Too Proud to Beg

He walked the streets of this neighborhood
Long as anyone knew
Used to work in construction
But those days are long through
On this hot summer morning
Everyone lowered their heads
The heat wave is over
And Pat O’Leary’s dead

He was too old to work
And he had a bum leg
But they cut him off welfare
And he was too proud to beg

For a roll and some coffee
He’d be up at sunrise
With a joke for the vendors
And a smile in his eyes
With the other old-timers
He’d wile the years
With a wink for the children
And a listening ear


His niece and his sister
They asked him to stay
But he liked the old neighborhood
He said “it’s better this way”
He said “soon I’ll make it
To sixty-five
And I got my old Buick
Til that day arrives”


Sheet music to this song may be found inĀ Songbook Vol I (1997-2004).

“Too Proud to Beg” appears in the 1998 CD, We Just Want the World.

This song is based on a story I read about a homeless man who died during the 1995 heat wave in New York.