Monday, 25 January 2010

abe honest, wolverhampton, uk

artist abe honest tells of a folk figure from wolverhampton's past...

It (the magnet) is placed on the nearest tree on Wolverhampton's Inner Ring Road, where the famous tramp Josef 'FRED' Stawinoga (15/12/20 – 28/10/07) lived for 40years in his tent.
He is thought to have been involved in the Soviet invasion of Poland (1939), before emigrating to the UK in the 1940s.

After the war he lived in Wolverhampton, finding work and a place to live – and an Austrian wife who left him after a year, according to Juliusz Leonowicz, who identified himself as Stawinoga's friend.

Official records show that Stawinoga married a woman called Hermine Weiss in Wolverhampton in 1952.

It has been reported that Stawinoga worked for some time at the Stewart & Lloyds steelworks in Bilston. One day, however, he did not turn up to work and the next his colleagues knew "...he was pushing a pram with all his possessions and had grown an ankle-length beard"

Thus, at a date given by different sources as 1954
and 1967, he opted out of society for unknown reasons, left his job, and became homeless. He was evicted from several lodging houses, and by the 1970s he had moved into a tent on the central grass reservation of the town's inner ring road. The council tolerated his presence, as he was claustrophobic, and he became something of a local character. A series of replacement tents was erected by the authorities over his original plastic sheeting; in April 2003 this involved "an operation involving the army, the police, social services and environmental health".

Fred was treated as a holy man by the Hindu and Sikh communities, with many people believing he lived a truly enlightened life.
A group devoted to him on the social networking site Facebook had over 4,000 members in early October 2007.

Józef Stawinoga died on 28 October 2007, aged 86. Wolverhampton City Council announced that it would cover the cost of his funeral if none of his family came forward, and the possibility of a memorial to him has been discussed. His tent was removed by the council at the request of West
Midlands Police, who were concerned that the area would become a tourist attraction.

I find this very appropriate to place the magnet by Fred's home of 40 years, it is giving him some sort of recognition that he was the beauty in the city during his time living there.

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