And it's Friday morning, time again for StoryCorps. This project is recording conversations between friends, and today we're going to hear from two veterans. Anthony Bravo Esparza is known by his friends as Dreamer. From a trailer in the parking lot of the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Campus, he offers free haircuts to fellow vets and a space to hang out.

Last year, Paul Crowley went in for a haircut. Today he's Dreamer's assistant.

PAUL CROWLEY: When I showed up, I was washed.

ANTHONY BRAVO ESPARZA: Yeah, you'd been drinking.

CROWLEY: I was totally out of hope. And part of that was the way I looked. I hadn't shaved in a couple of weeks; my hair was filthy and scraggly. But getting the haircut made me feel, for lack of a better word, normal, which I hadn't in a long, long time.

ESPARZA: When I first ran into you, I saw a guy that could, at some point, rise above it. And I just felt that I can help ya. Abraham Lincoln once said, never underestimate the power of a haircut. Of course, he never said that, but he should've said it.

CROWLEY: I try and help you out.


CROWLEY: I mean I'm not cutting hair. But when I'm there at the trailer I've watched a guy that just came right off the streets, not doing too well, and the only thing he has to pay you with is an orange.

ESPARZA: Whatever you got, we'll make a deal. I got rubber band balls; I've got pebbles, rocks, washers.

CROWLEY: I've never seen you turn anybody away. It's amazing to me to see the guys that come in, in the beginning. And then after they've been there a little while, they're going out to look for work.

ESPARZA: Um-hum.

CROWLEY: And they walk in with a suit, and the haircut you had given them the day before. And you can't even recognize them compared to the day they walked in there. You impressed me from the very start, and I respect what you have imparted to me. It's what has made me into a better person, because of my interaction with you.

ESPARZA: Thank you, buddy. We're going to move forward - that's why we comb our hair backwards.



INSKEEP: Anthony Bravo Esparza, known as Dreamer, and Paul Crowley at StoryCorps in Los Angeles. Their conversation and all the others are archived at the library of Congress, and there are pictures of Esparza's trailer at npr.org.


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