RC Vendor Profile:
Paul Von Kempf

Earlier this year, standing outside the View Ridge PCC selling Real Change, and feeling a little bit sorry for himself, Paul Von Kempf, Jr., began to write a poem. "I was in a lot of pain, and wanted to learn how to express it," he recalls. "I have a lot of ideas that lie behind the self-pity; if I get rid of it, I can get to those ideas."
Paul sees the poem, "Standing with Dignity," as a capstone to a life he could put down in the same style. He followed that poem with a second one, recalling a moment in his childhood, called "Dragonfly Pond." Now, he's going to put down his own autobiography in verse.
That epic would take place mostly in Seattle, where Paul's lived and worked odd jobs since 1967. He helped solicit funds for the non-profit First Avenue Service Center when it opened in the early '70s, by telling his story to congregations. For a while, he made his living remodeling houses in the U-District. His boss owned a local ice cream parlor, and struck a deal: Paul would make 50 cents an hour plus all the ice cream he could eat. The deal was soon modified, once Paul's diet made too big a dent in the inventory. After paying for rent at a local hotel, "it was all I could afford" to eat, he said.


© Real Change, December 13, 2001
used with permission

Paul's Page