Article connects homeless street comic with long-lost photos
For Times staff writer Catherine Saillant, an article led to a reader email, which led to a family reunion of sorts.
Saillant wrote last week about Fernando Anglero, who lives on the streets in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District. He’s known for his off-color cardboard signs that one resident told Saillant bring a “fun energy” to the neighborhood. And he uses social media to market himself, despite not having an apartment, computer or cellphone.
He keeps close track of how many times his hashtag, #fernandolove, is used on Instagram.
With his interest in the online photo-sharing site, it was perhaps fitting that Saillant’s article reunited Anglero with an album of old family pictures.
Saillant said that after her article was published, she received an email from a stockbroker in the Fairfax District who had his own story about Anglero. The man told Saillant that in 1993, he’d hired Anglero to help renovate his home. After several months of work, the stockbroker dropped by to find Anglero using drugs. He said he tried to help Anglero get sober, but Anglero fell off the wagon after a few weeks. The man then discovered some property missing and suspected Anglero, who disappeared.
But he told Saillant that Anglero had left a photo album behind, and the stockbroker had kept it all these years, hoping to be able to return it.
The album had pages of family memories: Christmas mornings, nieces and nephews, and Anglero’s now-deceased mother and sister. After reading Saillant’s story Wednesday, the Fairfax resident wrote to ask if she could help.
“Oh, yes, I could!” Saillant said.
She picked it up Thursday, and on Friday delivered it to Anglero.
“He didn’t know I was bringing it,” Saillant said, “and when I pulled the thick, faded album out of my bag, his eyes grew wide. He grabbed it and started wailing, tears running down his face, holding it to his chest like a baby.”
She said he cried over and over, “My family! My family!”
“After a while, I sat next to him and we went through the album together,” Saillant said. And she recorded the short video, below.
“Today,” she said, “was one of those days when being a journalist is not just a job but a privilege.”