The Richland Chronicle
Nov. 9, 2010
His name is Robert Crawford, but to anyone who has had either the pleasure or misfortune of knowing him, he is just Bob.
At 58, he spends most of his days wandering around downtown Dallas, usually in Deep Ellum where he revels in the music scene. He is often seen carrying his keyboard, wearing a lanyard with a set of keys attached, and asking unsuspecting drivers for rides.
He has no car, no income, and an apartment that’s paid for by an anonymous donor.
On the surface, Bob seems to be just another dirty, old homeless person panhandling on the streets.
However, this strange man was interesting enough to producer and co-director Lisa Johnson that she decided to follow his story and record his life on film in the documentary titled His Name is Bob.
“It was a moment,” Johnson said. “I looked at him and the word documentary came up because there’s a story there.”
During filming, the layers of the onion began to peel back and it was soon apparent that there was more to Bob’s story than just a man walking the streets of Dallas.
To begin, Bob found himself in the city when he was about 40. His sister left him at a street corner on Swiss Avenue and never returned. That was the second time Bob had been abandoned.
When he was 8, his mother took him to the Laconia State School for the Feeble-Minded in New Hampshire, the state Bob is originally from. She never came back to see him.
He sometimes talks about the verbal and physical abuse he suffered from his mother and the workers at the institution.
It’s possible that this abuse, along with a blow to the head he suffered at a young age affected his mental capacity, giving him an IQ of 63.
Despite his harsh life, Bob seems to have overcome the hardships and moved on.
“He is so content after living such a horrible life,” Heather Lee, producer of the film, said. “He still likes other human beings and he’s not afraid of them.”
He coped with his anxiety at first by drinking. Though he admittedly became an alcoholic, he’s been sober since April 4, 1970.
“I haven’t touched a drop in 40 years,” Bob said.
Before he came to Dallas, Bob was involved in the African Methodist Episcopal Church where he would play the organ. He learned how to play several hymns while he was there, but he doesn’t know how to read music and plays by ear.
Bob can also recite scripture from the Bible by heart including his favorite verse, John 3:16.
The documentarians agree that others’ reactions to Bob as a person says a lot about their spirituality.
“Bob is sort of a litmus test of your spiritual condition,” Johnson said. “What does your reaction to his dirtiness say about you? What does your reaction to his forthrightness say about you? So, he’s always informing me of what my condition is.”
Since Bob doesn’t own a vehicle, his main forms of transportation include walking and hitching rides from others. Somehow, he finds a way to get everywhere he wants to go including to music events and his volunteer job at the Pocket Sandwich Theater.
“He kind of floats around like an angel,” Ms. Lee said. “That’s the poetic way of saying it.”
Whatever the circumstances of an encounter with Bob are, he is bound to create some sort of reaction from people, both negative and positive. He can spark annoyance, interest, intrigue and disgust.
“My least and most favorite thing about Bob is if you spend more than 30 minutes with him, you’re guaranteed to feel almost every human emotion that’s been created, and some are unidentifiable,” Sebastian Lee, co-director and producer, said.
Bob manages to capture the hearts of people by just being who he is. The filmmakers who told his story still keep in touch with Bob and spend time with him.
“He’s our friend, he really is our friend,” Johnson said.
His Name is Bob is currently being shown at film festivals around Texas and other states.
It was recently a film winner at the Fall Indie Fest in Grand Prairie. Bob wants his story to be shared with others and, if nothing else, he hopes that people will listen to his message: “go with God and he will go with you.”
He is a 58-year-old man who was abused and abandoned by his family. He is a social person who is not afraid of people. He is a musician, a Christian, and a friend.
His name is Bob.
Courtesy of The Richland Chronicle