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Eddie Bernstein
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    (1898-February 1979)
    Born in Atlanta, Georgia
    Resided in Pensacola, Florida, during autumn and winter
    Panhandled and sold pencils and newspapers in Washington, DC, during spring and summer
    While panhandling, was usually accompanied by a capuchin monkey named Gypsy
    Nicknamed ‘Eddie the Monkey Man’
    When Washington, DC, authorities demanded that he pay a dollar a day for an exotic animal permit for Gypsy, he got an exemption by claiming to be unable to afford the fee. (At the time, he was clearing around $100 a day from panhandling.)
    When another beggar told the Washington Post that Eddie actually owned a Cadillac and a house in Florida, he went to the Post’s offices and complained, ‘If I had money and property, do you think I’d be sitting out in the cold all day?... If you think begging’s a good life, just try it.’ (1972)
    Actually, in addition to a home in Pensacola, he also owned three bars and a delicatessen.
    He kept begging long after he had any financial need to.
    He was diverting money away from other beggars who probably needed it more.
    He refused to tell people in Pensacola how he earned his money.
    Both his legs had to be amputated above the knee after he was run over by a train when he was thirteen (1911).
    He dressed dapper even while panhandling, wearing a bow tie and straw fedora.
    He originally was accompanied while panhandling by a dog named Snowball, until Snowball was struck by a car and killed (1938).
    His monkey was a gift from famed DC socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean.
    He made most of his wealth by successfully investing the money he got from begging.
    He said, ‘I’m a landmark in Washington. More people have seen me, and know who I am, than any other person in this town.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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