Just a quick update on my winter lodging situation. A few weeks ago I came across a Steam Man named Len fishing in the Donner Street sewer and asked to sit with him a while. After a friendly conversation (and a thorough vetting), he invited me to stay the night at his industrial home--an old, abandoned factory, office and warehouse facility on 8th and Glenny once called "Cunningham Materials". I guess they used to manufacture custom metal shelving units.
There are eight Steam Men in the group: Len, Matchsticks, Steam Kyle, Ratchet, Marbles, Tummy, Steam Bud and Sweat Nuts. They call themselves Clear River Steamers. I explained my dire situation--the fact that my home had been under the bridge but it's just too cold to stay there, and my medical condition makes me immobile at the moment.
Thankfully, they took pity on me and took me in. Not as an official member, by any means, but as a semi-permanent guest until spring. I have some extra dues that are expected of me to stay there, but the warm lodging, safety, companionship and social gravitas offered by the other men are well work the extra expenditures. I could have found a way to survive the winter on my own, I am sure, but a warm, safe place to stay and a relatively friendly group will sure make the season easier to bear.
The stereotype about Steam men is that they enjoy tinkering with the abandoned equipment and other supplies harvested from their industrial settings. That's obviously not true for everybody, but this group has done some interesting things with the leftover Cunningham Materials machinery. Steam Bud is going to have me assist him in converting an old hydraulic press into a way to make soap. Matchsticks found a big stack of damaged screen doors and has been repairing them for some reason, and Sweat Nuts is convinced he can get an enormous old backup generator up and running again.
Should be an interesting winter, will keep you updated!