Wow, that's really sad. I knew him. I've been shopping at that Safeway many, many years. Yes, I did buy Real Change on occasion. He was a fixture. He was quite cordial. I met him once on the bus and we discussed "Moby Dick" by Melville. Another time, I saw him on a scooter(!). I recall once that he stopped a man from using a grenade. Don't recall the circumstances but it made the news.

RIP Ed McClain
Something about the Grenade story:…
Man! That guy told me to have a great day so many times..
This is strange:
Born in Jackson, Miss., and raised in Chicago, McClain earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Northern Illinois University and studied microeconomics at Concordia University in Montreal. He spent 30 years studying cuisine in Europe, including 10 years in Paris, before returning to the United States. McClain arrived in Seattle in 1994 but found himself homeless after losing the $2,500 he had to his name. At that point, McClain turned to selling Real Change in the U-District to make a living, becoming one of the organization’s top vendors, sitting outside the Safeway for 10 to 12 hours a day, saying his trademark, “Real Change? Have a nice day!” to passersby.

What, he couldn't have got a job as a chef with all that talent in the burgeoning economy back then? He was homeless but that shouldn't have been a showstopper. He must have gotten deep in to drug/alcohol abuse or became tragically depressed and unmotivated.

Yeah it takes something more than that to go "whoops, I'm out of money" and stay that way for the rest of your life.
Ed wasn't an addict. He partied the last of his money away years ago, started selling the paper when he found himself out of money and living in a hotel on 99. Selling the paper was good for him, he loved it. He loved the people and the area. That is why he kept selling. Not because he was in a never ending circle of homelessness and addiction. He was not "out of money" for the rest of his life. He did well. He paid his bills and he helped me with whatever I needed for his grandson. He is an amazing man that most people could only dream of becoming half the person that Ed is. Please know that is his family is reading these articles. Try to be somewhat respectful that his grandson is only 13 and we are very heartbroken right now. Reading peoples memories of Ed is therapeutic. But please save your assumptions for gossip among yourselves. Anyone that actually knew Ed knew that what you saw is what you got and that was a not an addict or an alcoholic.
As soon as I read the headline I could hear his voice in my head. He was always good-natured and gracious. I rarely took his paper but always gave him the dollar if I had it. He was a treasure.

@6: I meant no disrespect. I'm glad he found fulfillment. But you can't blame those that find the history of his life rather astonishing and sad.
And with that, another piece of my youth bites the dust. What's strange is that on Saturday, for the first time ever, I bought a copy of Real Change from a vendor that was NOT Ed McClain. Up until then I had only ever bought the paper from him. My favorite memory will be the way he always called kids "little dude". I always thought it was charming.

RIP Ed. Have a great day, sir.
It is my understanding that real change does not employ drug users/abusers. You must be clean and sober, in order to work for their organization. Just something to keep in mind before passing judgment.
When I first moved to Seattle, I lived in the U-District for several years. And like everyone in that part of town, I shopped at that Safeway. I never new his name, but having the chance to say hello to him and him tell everyone to “have a good day” always made me happy.
I remember once, when I was first learning the area around the Safeway, I got a little lost in the parking lot (I’m totally Blind) he left his spot and helped me find the door.
I will miss him, truly a Seattle treasure.
Jeez, I've been going to that Safeway for most of my life, I remember when I became old enough that he stopped calling me "sweetie pie"
I never bought his paper, but he was part of the u-district to me, part of my childhood. I think the only time we really spoke was when I scared off some punk ass teenagers who were harassing him, and at the time I was too shy to stick around after.
It's amazing reading about the life he had, and I truly regret not getting to know him.
He was "The Real Change Guy" to my friends and I, I'll remember him as Ed McClain.
I just read about him because of a friend who knew him. What an amazing fellow. I wish I could have met him. Lucky to those who had. Well, I am glad I have gotten to read about him. What an inspiration to know someone who actually follows who they are inside and knows who they are instead of rushing after an illusion. Lovely indeed. Thank you to all for sharing.
@6: I am so sorry for your loss. I spent some of the darkest days of my life in the U-District, and there were times when Ed's "have a great day, ma'am," were the only words someone spoke to me all weekend. I always bought a paper from him and deeply appreciated the kindness he radiated.

He was a real treasure.
I will never forget that my son and daughter are, respectively, "little dude" and "cutie-pie". Some of the most memorable people are some of the humblest people. It's a conundrum. So long, Ed: good luck in the next turn of the wheel.
He wasn't homeless, he had an apartment in Lake City and he drove a scooter. About ten years ago he was a regular at Earl's when it was at the north end of the Ave and I'd see him all the time. He was a good guy, though, as far as I ever saw. I still go to the that Safeway, and am saddened by the loss.
I haven't lived in the U District for over 10 years, but I still remember Ed clearly from my days shopping at Safeway, on the way from school to home. His warm demeanor and upbeat attitude brightened many of my days. His positive impact was far-reaching, and he will be missed--I'm sure by family, but also by many who he barely knew.
JustHallie @6: thanks for that. I am one of the multitudes who came to know, admire and respect Mr. McLain over the years. I lived 3 blocks from the U-Dist Safeway for many years and came to love my brief conversations w/him when I would see him at the store (which was often). I also served on the Real Change board for a few years and he was much admired and respected by other vendors, staff, and board members who knew him.

For all of those pulling crazy ass assumptions out your ass about him being an alcoholic/dope fiend/whatever: do you ever check your shit before just going off? Seriously. For fucking shame.

And kudos to Univ. Temple United Methodist. The most socially engaged church in Seattle. Ya'll rock.
I, like so many remember Edward so fondly.... I raised my daughter (now 24) in the U Distict and he never forgot us... Always asking me how "cutie pie" was even when she was grown up and not by my side over the past few years. I wish Ed could know how much his kindness meant to me over the years. It was sweet to be able to give to him! A few years ago when it was really snowy one Christmas eve I ran across the street and bought him teriyaki. Love to his family and all the folks who are missing him.
I stopped to talk to him everytime I saw him in front the Safeway; he'd always greet me with "new paper" if it was the first I'd seen him that week. We'd chat as I left the store. About a month ago, he asked me if I went to church. I replied that yes, I did on occasion go to Blessed Sacrament. He handed me a few dollars and said "go put this in their donation box". That was the last conversation I ever had with him. I'm going to really miss him, he made the lives of everyone around him much richer by his mere presence. The world is diminished without him.
I have shopped at the U District Farmer's Market for years. I always purchased my real Change from him.

He always gave me a bad time if I was late but he always had 19 one dollar bills set aside so i could trade a 20 for the ones for the farmers market.

Over the years I took him cookies and fruit from the market as well as homemade jam and applesauce. I have looked forward to seeing Ed each week and will miss him greatly.

Dance with the Universe, my eldest brother. I miss you and will always love you.

Your sister
Why is it when a man's life changes directions, that people automatically imagine his failings. " Oh, he must have been heavy into drugs..." Bullshit, man!
Maybe he didn't want to cook for a bunch of yuppified snobs that THINK they know the difference between Haute Cuisine and Hot Dogs! Maybe he didn't want to take his degree in Economics to Wall Street. MAYBE, he was perfectly happy selling his newspapers at the Safeway.
He lifted the spirits of dozens of people every day. Judge the man on THAT and not some presupposed notion of what YOU think he did with his life. I was never fortunate enough to have met the man, but I know that my day would have been brighter for the experience.
Rest peacefully, Brother. Safe Journey.
Does anyone know the location of his grave, our children would like to bring some flowers...
What a load of BS. Of course the Slog would not bother to investigate this guy and his claims.

Lets break it down.

1) He claimed to have 2 degrees. If this was true and he got them concurrently he would have graduated in 1966 at 22. It would be very easy to find out if this was actually true. (I'm sure it's not)

2) He claimed to have spent 30 years as a pastry chef in Europe. How does one have such a long career and then come back to the USA and not have a job as a pastry chef? Wouldn't a restaurant love to have a guy with that much experience?

Nope. It's all a lie that he told knowing that Seattlites would eat it up and never question.

What was never mentioned is that 30 years is the perfect amount of time for a prison sentence.

Do the math.

The guy was more than likely nothing like he claimed. But, The Stranger wouldn't want to actually report about who the guy was because that wouldn't fit their liberal narrative. Just like they published the drivel of a murderer without question. Remember their story on Gary Sanford Raub? if not look it up.
RIP ED sorry for not being there to say goodbye!!

Your 2nd Fam


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