continued "In the winter, I don't notice the cold weather. I got adjusted to it so I don't even use an electric blanket. I used to ride from El Cajon to Alpine. Now I'll take rides to La Mesa or National City."
Both of Guthrie's parents are dead, but he still maintains close ties with his brother and sister. "My sister lives up in Riverside, and I see her on holidays. My brother lives in North Park. I have some nieces and nephews down in Imperial Beach." When asked if they've ever offered to let him move in, Guthrie waves off the idea. "I'd much rather live on my own. That's what I've always wanted to be able to do for myself. My sister's very proud of me. They don't deny me what I want to do. Most parents [board-and-care homeowners] don't want their [disabled] children to go out in the real world or get married. They're just too protective. I've seen some parents who wouldn't let them out of their environment.
"Like the two homes before the last one I lived in. One was very strict. They didn't let us go anywhere -- we all had to be together in the group. They never let us handle our money. We never got to associate with the outside. The other one, up in Alpine, did not want me to move out. When I moved out, they held it over me. Whenever I'd go there to visit, they'd say, 'We've got to cut back. We're losing money because you moved out.' When I moved in [at Alpine], they said they would help me in my goal to move out, then later they said I didn't stick to my bargain. After I moved out, another friend of mine moved out and they told her, 'Don't call nobody, don't tell them to come to visit.' It's a hush-hush type of thing. The ones that live there won't even say anything to me when I see them on the bus. If I say 'Hi' to them, they'll say, 'We can't say anything.'
"When a person goes into a home like that, they have to realize how to take care of that person as an individual and give them support when they do want to move out.
"The worst for me was in this board-and-care home where I was judged the same as everyone else there. They said I was retarded and not capable of living on my own. It was in Lakeside -- before I moved to Alpine. They wouldn't let me or anyone who lived there do anything. They took our money from us. They were more into money than helping us. It just depends on which board-and-care you go to. There are still people out there doing whatever they can to stop people from movin' out."
Now that he's on his own, Guthrie says his next goal is to get married. "It's somethin' I'd like to do, but I have to meet the right one. I used to live in El Cajon with Sarah and Larry [two developmentally disabled people], who got married. I videotaped their wedding. [Larry's] mom was more supportive of it. Sarah's mom helped them both out too. There's still people out there who don't want people with disabilities to get married."
Guthrie has a girlfriend, but he doesn't think she's the one for him to marry. "She lives in a home, and I visit her once in a while. I'll take her to People First meetings at Balboa Park. She's 51 and in a wheelchair; she can't use her legs. When I moved out, she had a crush on me. I tried to tell her that I wasn't ready for her. I would have to pick her up and walk her and help her out. I got her out of her depression when her dad passed away. So she's kinda attached to me."
Guthrie credits ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens) with helping him get his job. "They're the ones who got me in. A job developer who isn't there anymore helped me get this job. I started with ARC back in the '60s. Now I get to vote when they talk about new programs.
"I used to be a deacon in a church, but I only go once in a while now. What really turns me away is church politics. Instead of getting to what it really means to a person to believe in God and learning what God wants, they're out to outdo the other churches. Whether it's the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses, they're all out to bring in more people. But I don't think God is up there just to pick out a person from a certain religion or a certain church. He's gonna take all of us when the time comes."
A registered voter, Guthrie shows more interest for public politics. "I think Bush is going to win the election unless that thing that came up with the news reporter hurts him. I think most reporters want to help people figure out what's going on. I'm a Republican, but I'm not decided yet who I'll vote for."