In the mornings, come time for commuting, Andy Smith would rouse himself and his yellow dog Russ and walk the short way from his trailer at the old Fairfax City sewage treatment plant to his chair on Pickett Road.
The traffic would already be thick when he arrived, and he'd spend an hour waving to the drivers on their way to work. When one honked back, it made his day.
On weekends, he'd go to the Little League field across the street. Wearing a yellow hat and vest given him by some parents and children, he'd direct traffic before the game, occasionally giving a short-breathed toot on the whistle a city policeman had donated.
Andy Smith was an ageless man. Some said 50, others said 70. He said he didn't know himself. He was just always there. A remnant of the old days of Fairfax County, he grew up on a farm near Popes Head Road and went to school in a segregated, one-room schoolhouse.
For many years he worked on a farm. Later he lived in a ramshackle trailer on a patch of land his former employer left him when he died.
So when they took his lot for George Mason University, Smith got a new trailer and a rent-free site on the grounds of the sewage plant, with water and sewer and electricity included.
Women and Sunday school children bought him food and a television, a radio and boxes of cigars, and even another trailer when Hurricane Agnes destroyed the one the city had given him. But Andy Smith was no charity case: Need was his gift, appreciation his payment.
"The world needs a lover and Andy Smith loves everybody," former Fairfax City mayor Nathanial Young once said.
Though Smith was shabbily dressed and spent his days collecting deposit bottles from the roadsides, he was still, in the opinion of one 13-year-old Little Leaguer, "A pretty cool guy." The kind of guy who talked to anyone.
"And the funny thing," says city Public Works Director James R. Shull, "is that everybody would talk to him. You'd see these people all dressed up in suits talking to ol' Andy. It was a real contrast for Fairfax City."
When Andy Smith died in 1978, old and infirm in a chair in front of the television set in his trailer, his funeral was held at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, and hundreds of people were there.
A young girl sang a solo in his memory, and a Sunday school teacher eulogized him for 10 typed pages.
"Here you had all these people praying for an old colored man who done nothing in his life but be a good human being," recalls city Street Superintendent C. Wayne Marteny, who went to the funeral. "It was kind of inspiring."