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Concrete's back

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Concrete is back. Just as unexpected and unannounced as his disappearance, he has returned to what all seem to agree is his rightful place on Ninth Street in Durham.

In February, the rumor began flying that Anthony Harris "Concrete" Graham, a 48-year-old homeless man who was among a group of men who once lived in makeshift tents along the railroad tracks, had disappeared and perhaps had died. (See "The disappearance of a homeless man," March 7.)

A store owner called last week to let me know that he'd reappeared, smiling and happy, with word of his return spreading good cheer across Ninth Street. The regulars who knew him celebrated by giving Concrete, who never asked for anything, a variety of gifts, including money to spend the night in a hotel.

He'd apparently been at John Umstead Hospital, a state mental institution in Butner, after slipping so thoroughly through the cracks that the police—who issued a missing person's report on him—couldn't find him. Maybe it's optimistic to expect the right hand to talk to the left in the case of a homeless man with few (if any) claimed kin, to assume that full resources would be brought to bear on a case like his. That's probably just as well, since Concrete never wanted to be a burden or the center of attention.

No matter, he's back with us now. And if it's possible for a homeless man to be home, then Concrete most certainly is. Welcome back.

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