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Portraits Of Boston: The Celebrity Beacon Hill Town Crier

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When I first saw this man years ago, I was a little puzzled. He seemed to be switching randomly between weather reports and sports scores; he didn’t appear to be getting information from a radio or any other source, nor did he seem to have a specific audience.

Last week I finally spoke with him, and it was a pleasure. His name is Gilbert, but he has given himself the rather long title “The Celebrity Beacon Hill Town Crier, the Weatherman,” and has been doing this since the 1980s when he became homeless and thought this was a better way of making a little money than “getting into drugs or other crimes.” When I noted his fluorescent vest, he told me that when people ask him where he works, he tells them he works for the city. A lot of passers-by knew him, and he knew them by name. Most exchanged a few words with him; some left money; one woman gave him a granola bar.

Below is a verbatim three-minute sequence from last Thursday morning; only rare pauses when no one was around were eliminated for improved flow. I think the many exclamation points are necessary because he announces temperatures and game scores with equal passion rivaling that of South American football commentators.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! Sixty-two degrees today, with a chance of rain in the afternoon! Have a wonderful day, sir! Rain later this evening! The Celtics finally won one last night! Good morning, ma’am! Have a great day and wonderful morning, and thank you ma’am! Thank you very much! Have a wonderful Thursday morning! Showers this afternoon! Spare change for the town crier! Good morning! Nice day today, a little windy, but we’ll take that. Good morning, ma’am, and have a wonderful day! Sixty-two degrees this afternoon! And we have a new mayor called Marty Walsh. Good morning, ma’am! Nice dog, sir. Good morning! Sixty-two degrees today. The Celtics finally won a game last night, and also the Bruins are playing tonight. Sixty-two degrees this afternoon with possible chance of showers later on this evening. My name is Gilbert. Good morning! Spare change for the Beacon Hill celebrity crier, the weatherman. Good morning, sir. Nice tie. Marty Walsh is our new mayor. Sixty-two degrees today. The Bruins are playing tonight. Have a wonderful Thursday morning! Hello, ladies! Morning! Have a wonderful day! Good morning, Bob. How you doin’? I told you the Sox were gonna win. I said they’d win 6-2, but they won 6-1. Good morning, Becky, and have a wonderful Thursday morning! Good morning, sir! The sun is supposed to come out in a little bit followed by some rain. Good morning, little one! Listen to your mommy, and say good morning to your teacher when you get to school. Have a wonderful Thursday morning!”

Portraits of Boston is a project of independent photographer Ivan Velinov. He is regularly sharing some of his favorite portraits with WBUR. Visit his website to see the hundreds of portraits he has taken on the streets of Boston.

This program aired on November 11, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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