Feature: Suburban homeless (the travel trap)

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

text and images by D. Giles Clasen

For a Minnesota country-man, coming to Colorado meant becoming homeless, and inching ominously closer to the city every day.

Terri Schweppe does not belong in a city. His handlebar mustache, black cowboy hat and duster expresses clearly that he is a man more comfortable in a small town than downtown.

When he moved to Denver, it was a move full of both tragedy and hope.  He drove his unreliable van from Minneapolis, across the barren cornfields of the Midwest, to Colorado’s Front Range expecting to find open air and a job.

But Schweppe didn’t find the sanctuary he expected. Instead, he quickly became homeless.

It is one more setback for Schweppe, who moved after his identical twin, Larry Schweppe, died of a stroke in April. “I have been a little lost without him,” Schweppe admits.  “He was my compass.  I sometimes feel like when he died I lost my identity.  Now I have lost everything.”

The two had been roommates and best friends. Schweppe continues to carry Larry’s birth and death certificates.  He handles them gently and with great reverence when he shows them.  He pulls out his brother’s Minnesota driver’s license.  

"I only know how to do two things. I know how to work with the dirt and I now how to cook. I work hard and I’m honest. Those qualities don’t amount to much when you are trying to get a job.” — Terri Schweppe

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