When Gladys Moon walks down the street, you can tell she has a little country in her. Usually wearing a bright pink cowgirl hat, she’s hard to miss. “I grew up on a farm,” Moon said. “My dad always had horses, chickens, goats and even bunny rabbits.”
Moon grew up in rural Missouri on her parents’ farm with her five siblings. For eight years, she was even a barrel racer. Moon traveled all over the Midwest and the South with her own horse, Phoenix, for competitions. “My best friend was a rodeo girl, too, and after I saw how many ribbons she was winning, I wanted to win some too,” Moon said.
Moon has always had a competitive streak in her. In 1975 and 1987, Moon was a Missouri Princess. She competed in beauty pageants all over the state of Missouri. Her talent was tap dancing. “I was the cutest in the family, so my sister helped me compete in the pageants,” Moon said with a laugh. Moon’s grandma made all of her costumes for her. Once her grandma passed away, though, she couldn’t compete any longer. “It just made me too sad seeing her costumes that I decided to stop,” Moon said.
When Moon helped move her friend who was dying of cancer back home to Seattle, she decided to stay herself. “It’s my heaven on Earth here,” Moon said. With wages so low in the Midwest in general, it was hard to make ends meet. At that point, Moon’s husband was working as a taxi driver for himself and making good money. Unfortunately, that also led to a lot of drinking, and when he drank, he would come home and abuse her. “The last time he was choking me, I started seeing black—I decided that was it,” Moon said. So, she left. Soon after, her husband committed suicide. Moon talks about how thankful she is for her husband’s family. She still talks with them every once in a while, even after how things ended.
With little to no money when she moved out here, Moon was stuck staying in a shelter. Eventually, her case manager helped Moon get her own place, which she is so thankful for. “When I first moved here I was drinking a lot. I was at a state park, got drunk and beat up the security guard’s truck. He decided to come up here and bring me to the police station. I was talking about committing suicide, so they had me see a mental doctor. They dropped charges and didn’t even make me pay for the window. I told him I was homeless from Missouri, and I owe that man so much,” Moon said.
Moon found out about Real Change from seeing another vendor selling the newspaper on the street. She went up and asked about it and, after some poking and prodding, eventually came to the vendor center and has been selling the paper for the past three years.
One of her biggest highlights was selling the paper when Macklemore came down the street, and she got a picture with him. “He just came back from a tour and gave us some money, and I got him to autograph a paper for me,” Moon said about the occurrence at a Capitol Hill QFC grocery store. “I call him ‘Ben’ because I see him all the time at that QFC. He’s a good guy,” Moon said with a smile.
With all the transplants in Seattle, Moon is among those who now call Seattle home. Even if she does still have a lot of country in her, you can see how much this city means to her. If you’re ever around Capitol Hill, don’t forget to look for her bright pink cowgirl hat.
Gladys is one of approximately 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
Read the full September 18 - 24 issue.
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