MARYSVILLE (CBS13) – Donald “Shortstack” Oliver had the odds stacked against him, but now the former homeless man is finding new meaning in life protecting the dead.
“I been homeless for the last three years down on the river bottoms,” he said Monday.
That was until four days ago when he got a proposition from the Marysville Police Department that he just couldn’t pass up.
“You know anybody interested in being a watchman out here,” he said police asked. “And I said ‘me!’ And here I am.”
Here is a tiny trailer in front of the historic Marysville City Cemetery, whose occupants date back to the Gold Rush when the city was established.
“Got me a microwave, got a stove, got a bed,” Shortstack said of his new accommodations.
In exchange for these relative luxuries, Shortstack and his canine companion watch over the cemetery turned devil’s playground by vandals.
“Last April we had $20,000 damage done to the cemetery,” said Roberta Shurtz with cemetery commission.
And vandals struck again this March. But with no money in the budget for security, police decided to take a long shot on Shortstack.
“We’re using him being here as a deterrent for anyone who would want to commit criminal activity,” Marysville Sgt. Christian Sachs said.
He doesn’t get paid, he’s only considered a volunteer, but Shortstack says he’s earning a fortune in pride.
“Oh, shoot my self-esteem is coming back up. I went hog-wild crazy yesterday just weed-eating,” he said.
He’s making a home and building a new life watching over the dead.
“It’s a graveyard. It’s a place where people have lived out their lives,” Shortstack said. “Every life has a history and we should protect that history, you know?”