Remember Ali Hakim from the Musical “Oklahoma”? By all accounts, that is the best way I know to describe Mr. Livingston. A confidence man, scam artist, two bit peddling thief, riverboat gambler, and opportunistic drifter. Depending upon which way his life might take him, he would sell ice to the Eskimo, snake oil to the snake, whiskey to the drunk, or salvation to the sinner.
I met him while I was still in college. I knew exactly what he was but, still, he had charisma … he showed a genuine interest in others. You couldn’t help but be drawn into him. It made you feel good somehow to be around him.
I often wonder what happened to him. That was over 20 years ago when I first met him and he was in his 70s or even early 80s then so I doubt he’s around anymore. He had family and they all seemed to always be fighting their own demons, looking for this tall man with the pencil mustache to bail them out. And bail them out he would, going from gig to gig looking to pick up a few bucks … or a lot … to pass long to those who needed him.
I met him when he was selling roofing to homeowners who I am sure would be as enamored to him as any of us. I, on the other hand, was selling roofing to him. He unfortunately did not care much about getting the roofing installed properly. I still clean up the occasional botched job with which his name is associated, even all these years later.
But I remember him and somehow I am glad I knew him. It may not be financially but somehow my life is richer, albeit perhaps a bit seedier, because I knew Wes. I hope that he is spending a peaceful eternity.