WWII Vet has lived in the community since 1954
William Carr is quick to tell you that he’s a liar, “I warn you, I lie a lot. And I’m always joking. But this is the true part,” a native of Brooklyn, he volunteered for the Air Corps in 1941 and served in England in World War II. His brother, a pilot, was shot down and spent time as a prisoner of war. “I haven’t spoken to him in years. I’m not sure if he is still alive or not.”
William is elfin, short of stature and tall of tales. He traveled from the East Coast to California with stops in Chicago and in Las Vegas along the way. He was drawn to Las Vegas by his love of gambling and to Los Angeles by his love of ‘the ponies.” He spends his happiest hours at the racetrack, diligently budgeting for his gambling each month. He made a decision in his youth to avoid marriage in favor of gambling. “Sometimes you’re up when you’re winning. Sometimes you’re down. Kids gotta eat; rent’s gotta be paid. When you’re a gambler you can’t be counted on, so I just decided to avoid all that.”
He has lived in the Skid Row community since 1954 and has lived in several SRO Housing Corporation properties, even before they were purchased and renovated by the organization. He lived at the Ford Hotel and at the Russ Hotel before moving to his current home in the Courtland Hotel over 15 years ago.
It was there that he celebrated his 92nd birthday in November 2013. “I tell you what, I never thought I would be this old, but I never think of dying. I just go about my business. I buy the paper every morning and check the obituaries and if I’m not in there, it’s a good day. I watch sports all day long, every day, unless I’m at the track. It’s pretty simple. It’s a good life.”
William has high praise for the Courtland Hotel, “The staff is great. I have my meals delivered by meals on wheels and I have the bathroom down the hall. It’s clean and it’s affordable. Not like on the Westside, where the rents are so high.” His room is tidy and simply decorated with a prized Veterans’ Day commendation from the City of Los Angeles. There are sports pages stacked neatly on a small dresser and a desktop TV is silently tuned to the sports channel. He shows off carefully preserved photos of himself smiling in a shiny new Packard convertible and standing proudly next to family members in his military uniform. His brother was the first to enlist in the military, just before the outbreak of WWII, and William followed his example soon after. William has been out of touch with his family for years yet takes comfort in the Skid Row community he calls home. “I have everything I need.”
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