There is often a point in one’s life when there seems to be only two options: succumb to hardship or rise above it and create a new destiny. Thirteen-year-old Jerry Winkle chose the latter when he decided in late May to change his living situation in order to escape the clutches of one foster family after another.
After a circus visit, his father flew out of the tilt-a-whirl, never to be seen again. His mother spiraled into a crippling gambling addiction and unemployment, leaving little Winkle all alone. Foster care was no better. There, between court hearing and frequent beatings, he met some of the most unfit parental figures ever.
“I just wanted to go back to my mother,” Winkle said. “I really didn’t mind giving her my lunch money so she could try to hit the big one. Honest.”
But as time went on, Winkle’s mother made less effort to win him back, until eventually he had no other choice but to lose hope in her.
“It was a dark time,” Winkle said. “I spent a lot of time sleeping in the bushes in front of my best friend Jojo’s house wishing I could find someone to hold me."
It was a Jojo’s house that Winkle tried Sushi for the first time, which ended up being his favorite food.
“The food was good, but I was fascinated with the chopsticks used to eat the delicacy. I knew I could use these for something, so I tried using them for different things, claws and walrus teeth, until I finally ended up settling on whittling the ends into points so I could start knitting,” Winkle said.
And knit he did. He taught himself how to k1, p1 to create any type of pattern, shape and form. Once he grew bored of knitting scarves, beanies and socks, he tried to make something with more feeling, more personality, to fill the empty void that should have been overflowing with parental love.
“I saw Zooboomafoo and thought that if someone could make a puppet come to life then why can’t I knit myself a family? Then I tried and it worked,” Winkle said.
It took him six years, but Winkle did knit his family. His dad was a massive, 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and his mom a petite, curvy woman with curly brown hair. Winkle even knitted that little sister and Labrador puppy he always wanted.
“Life is perfect,” Winkle said. “We live together in a cottage by the river. I knit everything we need…couches, beds, even a refrigerator.”
Now Winkles home is in danger. Local officials, backed by the residents of the area hope to evict Winkle from his current location. Tim Daily, spokesperson for the California Sanitation Department, told us that the main reason is his location. The house, which isn’t actually a house, is just a stack of cardboard cereal boxes stolen from a local elementary school, stacked three feet high held together by rat tails.