Alice

Alice

Alice has traveled a long and increasingly open road, from New York debutante to doyenne of the Washington homeless. She put in long years as a seamstress in Manhattan's garment district, and for a time, during her barfly years, was profoundly acquainted with a particular stool in a neighborhood pub whose bar was tended by Zonker Harris. On the streets for nearly 15 years, she makes it a point to return to New York's Roseland Ballroom for her annual spin as a taxi dancer. Her innumerable dance partners included a memorable spin with oil biz honcho Jim Andrews. A master of the soft touch, Alice has made panhandling a sophisticated survival skill, peddling subscriptions to the National Review, and developing a monthly contribution program, with membership buttons to identify paid-up donors. Her knowledge of weather and her urban camping techniques are unparalleled. Her husband and grill-mate Elmont is unhinged.

But for all her street savvy Alice has nearly frozen to death several times -- a dramatic photo of her, unconscious, buried in a snowdrift, appeared on the front page of the Washington Post. In the wake of this dual brush with fame and mortality, Alice was befriended by Congresswoman Lacey Davenport, who was gradually succumbing to Alzheimer's and mistook her for her long- dead sister Pearl. In Lacey's will, she left her estate to Alice, whose husband Elmont blew it all day-trading just as they were making the transition to a roofed existence.