In April 2014, City Weekly
published a Best of Utah for Dennis Gray, the charming 'newspaper boy' who sells Salt Lake Street News around downtown from early in the morning till late at night.
Gray had big plans for his Best of Utah plaque. A friendly attorney had offered to pay for T-shirts featuring a caricature of Gray on one side and a picture of the plaque on the other. Gray, needless to say, is someone whose cheerful demeanor and charisma gets under people's skin. Sit with him for a few minutes and passersby salute him left and right.
However, the T-shirt scheme ran afoul of a fellow homeless man who stole Gray's bag with his plaque in it, and indeed was seen about town by one of my colleagues with the plaque, perhaps intending to use it to raise funds.
Theft is unfortunately a common-day occurrence for the homeless, Gray says, noting that on July 5, 2015, he had his eighteenth bicycle stolen.
A colleague made up a new plaque for Gray who took possession of it yesterday, shortly before he was going to a dentist to get his dentures addressed.
Gray currently resides in a North Temple motel that costs $200 a week, a small fortune for someone who relies on selling the Street News for $2 a pop.
He says the T-shirt idea is a "little heady" for a man who says he is wary of being prideful. While the heat has been "a bugger," as he puts it, he has managed to sell enough papers to keep a roof over his head. "Nothing's going to happen if you sit in your room," he says.
So he's out at 7 or 8 a.m., working Third & Main, then goes to Squatters and finally for the last hours into the early morning works Main Street.