Norman Threatt doesn't like to ask for help.
Threatt, 55, a roofer by trade, prefers to navigate through the world on his own – which means that during the winter months, when roof work is scarce, he finds himself on the street.
But there's a nagging question he wants an answer to, and he'll accept some help on this one: Is his father still alive?
Threatt was born in Georgia, one of 11 children of Lucy Jordan, who was once married to Threatt's father, Norman Willis Threatt.
But Threatt lost touch with his father years ago, after the younger Threatt, a Vietnam veteran, moved north for work and a woman, neither of which panned out the way he had hoped.
Threatt's dad would be about 94 years old now.
“I just want to know if he's still alive and talk to him, ask him some questions that would give me some closure,” said Threatt. “It's been on my mind for a long time now.”
Threatt graduated from Southest Macon High School in Georgia, a perennial basketball powerhouse in the 1970s that produced NBA star Jeff Malone.
He grew up, he said, in a family of moonshiners, and drank heavily by the time he was in high school. A recovering alcoholic, he doesn't go back home much because he's afraid he'll start drinking again if he's around the liquor. And even though he's had his share of problems that have led him to the streets, Threatt said he doesn't want to go down that road again.
Threatt is gentle, introspective and polite, addressing people with “Sir” and “Ma'am” in his Southern drawl during conversation. He's easy to like.
He looks for ways to earn a couple of dollars while he waits for roofing jobs, including rooting through Dumpsters to fish out jewelry and other treasures to sell so that he can buy food and supplies.
“People throw out some nice things,” he said. “You'd be surprised. I find a lot of things I can sell.”
Threatt said he has asked a friend who is an attorney to help in his search to track down his father, but he hadn't had much luck.
He has no plans to give up, though.
“I'm not going to stop until I find out for sure whether or not he's alive. I hope I get a chance to talk to him.”