Posts Tagged ‘Johnny McCormick’

By: Ashley Hemmy

When taking on this opportunity at the Homelesss Voice, I knew I wanted to write about someone extraordinary.

Johnny McCormick intrigued me right away.

Suffering from Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease developed from smoking, Johnny resides on a mattress on the second floor of the COSAC shelter. He shouts and curses at passing residents.

And they all love him.

Johnny was the first  resident and the reason why this shelter exists. And he is the favorite of Sean Cononie – the director and founder. I was so excited to write about such an amazing, lovable person.

I sat with Johnny from 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010, and all I got was that he loves bologna and Dick Tracey. Sean later told me that he had never talked about Dick Tracey before, so he was probably lying to me.

Besides the  lying, Johnny wasn’t short on insults to me:

  • “You are a fucking whore. Stop smelling up the place.”
  • “Get out of my face, you creep.”
  • “I’m gonna call the police on you!”
  • “Are you drunk right now?”
  • “What are you selling, lady?”
  • “Little girl, your mommy and daddy are calling you.”
  • “Why don’t you go play with your dog or something?”
  • “You are a real nut case.”
  • “Just go home already, lady.”

As you can see, Johnny was a lovely person.

Once he saw I was done conducting interviews and was ready to leave, he sat up and shook my hand.

“It was real nice talking to you,” he said.

And all I could do was smile. After being the nutcase that sat in the hall for six hours, I knew I had a really good story.


So far today, half a dozen students have visited another shelter, followed a vendor on a street corner, or posed as a homeless person.

Others have interviewed shelter founder/director Sean Cononie, long-term resident Johnny McCormick, or former European basketball player Horace Brawley. They’ve talked to prostitutes, amputees, mentally challenged, physically impaired, and suicidal lesbians.

With copy slowly coming in on Sunday afternoon, Art Director Stephanie Colaianni is starting to lay out cover page options for the October, 2010 issue. The book is set for a minimum of 16 pages. An Outreach mission – where the shelter medical staff go out in search of homeless on the street – is set for Sunday evening. The Outreach volunteers – a nurse practitioner and a police officer – go in search of homeless living on the street and give them food, cigarettes, or medical supplies out of an ambulance that belongs to COSAC.