In case you spotted litter on the streets of downtown Gilroy in the past week, it’s not Downtown Dave’s fault.
Dave Armitage, the good-natured self-appointed sidewalk sweeper for Monterey Street and assorted side streets for more than a decade, is recuperating in a Morgan Hill skilled nursing facility.
Dave wants to let folks know that he is doing fine, thanks to several of his guardian angels—local business people.
“I tripped over a high spot in the sidewalk on First Street, and landed on my knee cap, then last week a couple of skateboarders pushed me and I fell on the same knee,” he said from his bed in Pacific Hill Manor this week.
The 64-year-old Gilroy native is undergoing physical therapy, and is securing treatment for an infection in his leg injury. He said he won’t be released until the leg heals and he can walk again.
One bright spot for Dave this week—courtesy of Cindy Parks of the Gilroy Downtown Association—was a telephone call to one of his sisters, Peggy Daugherty of Red Bluff. Dave had not seen her or spoken with his youngest sister since the 2016 funeral of their father Ed, a retired California Highway Patrol officer who had served for years in the Gilroy area. The conversation brought a smile to his ruddy face.
“I didn’t know where he was—we write letters to his post office box—and it’s so good to know people there are taking care of him,” Daugherty said later.
Things definitely weren’t rosy for Dave in mid-February, when Yolanda Casteneda, owner of the Fifth Street Coffee Roasting Company, spotted him sleeping on a Fifth Street bench in subfreezing morning temperatures. Dave usually sleeps on benches in the downtown area.
She said Dave often helps her in the morning, putting her chairs and tables outside the popular coffee shop on Monterey Street. On this morning, Feb 17, he appeared listless.
“He looked really exhausted—he wouldn’t eat or drink anything,” she said. She was worried that he might not survive the cold, so she called around, and Dave’s army of downtown angels went to work.
Gardner Health Services examined his leg, and Castaneda paid for him to stay a couple of nights at a downtown motel. Mafalda’s Bridal Shop pitched in to help, and Visiting Angels lined up a nurse to help him at the motel. By the end of the week, the Gardner clinic got him a referral to the Morgan Hill nursing facility, out of the cold and into treatment.
“This was like a little miracle in our town,” said Parks, describing the way folks pitched in to help Dave.
Dave said he is eager to get back to work. “I know what day every dumpster in downtown Gilroy is dumped,” he said. “I walk all over town and get everything cleaned up.”