People We See: Daniel Mathis Goes Home

An update to a ‘People We See’ from April 2023.

Photographs by John Hawkins

Daniel Mathis Goes Home

In April, Association President John Hawkins interviewed Daniel Mathis, whom John met while Daniel was living on Glendale Boulevard just north of downtown.

Because of that “People We See” interview, Daniel’s mother was able to locate him and bring him home.

“Until I saw your article, I had no idea where he was,” his mother, Christina Mathis, said by phone from her home in Petaluma. “I had looked for him before, but not in a while because I wasn’t getting anywhere.”

On her birthday, Aug. 11, Christina decided to search for him again online. This time, she discovered from the Alive! article that Daniel was living on Glendale Boulevard near the Clark Street Bakery.

Seeing him in Alive! “was kind of shocking because I had gone in circles so many times. When I saw him online, I about fell out of the chair.”

It was Daniel’s answer to one of John Hawkins’ questions that put her into action. “John asked him where he saw himself in five years, and Daniel said he hoped he would be dead. That got me,” Christina continued.

Christina then called John Hawkins, who gave her tips on Daniel’s condition and possible locations around the bakery.

A week or so later, Tropical Storm Hilary was bearing down on Southern California,
so Christina and her other son, Andy, hopped in their car in Petaluma and headed to Los Angeles. “The weather people were talking about flooding, so I figured we had to leave immediately.”

They left Petaluma at 1 a.m. on Aug. 20 and arrived early that Sunday.

“We started looking for him right away, but we couldn’t find him. We went to the bakery and figured to start there. They told us where Daniel tended to hang out, sometimes at Echo Park. I didn’t see him anywhere at the park. But we decided to walk down a street instead of driving. We got about 20 steps away, and there he was sleeping in a cubbyhole in front of a business.

“It shocked me the way he looked.”

By his response, Daniel couldn’t believe it, either. “When we were standing over him and he was asleep, it took me a few seconds to realize I wasn’t seeing things. That really was Daniel. And I think he was so shocked that I don’t know what he was feeling.”

Christina and Andy helped Daniel into their car and bought him some new clothes down the street. From there they were back in Petaluma that night, ahead of the storm that day.

“I haven’t had an epiphany or anything like that,” she continues. “But I had no doubt we would find him,” she remembered. “It was probably stupid of me to think that way. It’s kind of a miracle. I hope it all works out in the end.”

After she got Daniel back home, she called John Hawkins to tell him that Daniel had been found and brought home.

The Clark Street Bakery on Glendale Boulevard near Echo Park.

“It’s been an absolute miracle,” Christina says. “It’s a miracle you interviewed him, and it’s a miracle I found him.

“The people at the bakery were just fantastic, just so nice. The nicest group of people I think I’ve ever been around.

“And to John Hawkins, thank you for caring about all these people.”