You might remember Lovee Underhill as a regular 300-club vendor on the 16th Street Mall over the last couple of years. Lovee always talked of her home in Florida and the nostalgia she had for her time there. She celebrates sobriety and the positive friends she made there. So, in 2009, she decided to move home to Tampa. We wished her luck and health—and missing her dearly, off she went. She called us shortly after her arrival letting us know she had had what she called a mild heart attack, but something she still has to actively tend to maintain her health. We didn’t hear much back from her, but did catch wind of her struggles to stay afloat there.
In Tampa, the legislation is much more difficult on people living on the streets. There is no paper as a means of income, and Lovee even tried flying a sign for money—which is also illegal. She reunited with one of her friends, reconnecting after years, and on a dolphin boat he got on his knee and asked her to marry him. So fairytale!
So, in came “Beach Bum Bob.” Bob was originally from New Jersey, but had moved to Tampa over 15 years prior. He owned a trailer and their life seemed to be starting out together beautifully. But, even though he owned his trailer, the park where he lived had a no felon rule, and in Lovee’s previous life she carried that moniker and was not allowed to stay. Bob had a friend that had a truck and let Lovee sleep there. Bob sold his trailer and they lived in the truck together. Lovee truly disliked having to panhandle just to maintain.
It was a panicky time. No way to earn income,and being more and more marginalized from housing, the couple used the money from the trailer to get bus tickets back to Denver. It was a hard and bittersweet decision and a hard, four day bus ride back. They returned in May, spent the end of their money on a hotel for the month and both began selling the paper. As an article in this issue talks about, finding family housing together is extremely difficult. The couple has had to use the last of their money for the more expensive option, a hotel, just to stay together.
Bob used to work in computers and also struggled with addiction, but alongside Lovee celebrates sobriety. He was a staple in Florida, and jokingly said, “My time there was the longest vacation in history.” It was just over 15 years. He is a quiet and shy man, but never underestimate his humor and intelligence glimmering through those blue eyes.
Lovee plans to officially change her name to Kaufer soon, and the couple’s love for each other is apparent. The beauty of this relationship is so simple in the fact that they’re together. But in the context of the obstacles they have faced, it is breathtakingly astounding. They take care of each other. They keep each other going as the fear of being on the streets is immanent without income from the paper. The Denver VOICE is a vehicle for them to succeed. Of course, it isn’t guaranteed, but with this couple’s conviction, they have a fighting chance. Lovee has expertise in selling and a history of a successful clientele base. Bob loves Lovee and will do anything to keep them together. •