Joseph Pounds gazed across Earl Street. He looked beyond the ceramic owl standing watch at his chain-link fence, over toward a pair of oak trees where, in an otherwise empty, grassy lot, someone had parked a backhoe.
The backhoe made Pounds, who is 69, think of his younger days — to a time before the shooting — to days half a lifetime ago when he didn’t need a wheelchair, when he earned a living as an earth-moving man.
He can’t recall exactly when the shooting was, just that it happened on Lowe Street in Macon’s Unionville neighborhood. He doesn’t say what prompted it — or if he even knows.
“Been about 25 years ago, maybe 30,” Pounds recalled. “It was on the weekend. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. They shot me right through here.”
He pointed to his left shoulder, then his neck, his torso, his spine.
Doctors have operated on him 11 times.
He can’t walk. He has adjusted to getting around in an electric wheelchair.
“I done been in it so long,” he said.
His house on Earl Street near Mumford Road, where he has lived for more than 20 years, needs repairs that he can’t make or afford.
Rebuilding Macon, a group that helps disabled and low-income homeowners fix up their places, needs donations to help Pounds.
The wheelchair ramp to his front door is rotted. His kitchen cabinets are falling apart.
“Repaired it one time,” Pounds said of the house, “but it went back down again.”
Pounds began operating backhoes when he was 15.
“I used to run a backhoe, a front-end loader, a bulldozer,” he said. “I was the best.”
Pounds, who can drive a car, looked over at the backhoe parked across the street.
“I could work that one if I could get up on it,” he said.
Most days now, he hangs around his house.
Sometimes he sits on the screened-in porch and watches neighborhood children play.
But the screens are ripped and sagging in spots.
Inside, rickety ceiling fans need replacing. Not to mention the bathroom, which has a messed-up toilet and a broken shower.
“All my life I worked hard,” Pounds said, “to end up with nothing.”
Editor’s note: To donate to Joseph Pounds, the subject of today’s Reindeer Gang feature — the Telegraph’s annual profiles of people and families in need at the holidays — call Rebuilding Macon, the agency that has sponsored Pounds, at 744-9808. To donate using the agency’s website, visit rebuildingmacon.org/donate.