EAST ST. LOUIS - To be a catcher in the Negro Leagues, Sam Taylor Sr. needed good hands.
His son, Sam Taylor Jr. of East St. Louis, is also known for his hands. Sometimes it's hard to see the waving through the trees out front, but commuters in the know, know to look out for Sam "the waving man."
Taylor is Missouri Avenue's unofficial ambassador.
"Well I have been called that, I have even been called the mayor," said Sam. "I just like to wave."
Taylor says he likes to hear horns all the time.
"It makes my day," said Sam.
Taylor's wave can be understated. There's the finger point or the two finger wave, but once Sam gets warmed up, there's no wavering.
There's the wave, two fingers, wave and then point or the intricate wave which is two fingers, wave, opposite hand point and the two-finger wave.
Sam's been at this since the mid-nineties when congestive heart failure meant he couldn't work and had to stay home.
"Every day, this year makes 20 years," said Sam. "I don't miss a day!"
It took people awhile to get it. Some people incorrectly assumed Taylor was mentally ill.
"One lady stopped and said I just want to know what's going on with you. I said, 'What do you mean?' 'Why do you do this?' Just a friendly gesture, just to make people smile," said Sam.
East St. Louis is known for jazz icons, Olympic champions and lots of bad stuff.
"You got drugs, politics, crime that's what makes the world bad," said Sam. "Without all of those things, we'd have a beautiful world."
In this part of the world, along Missouri Avenue, you can find beauty in the form of helping hands that come in waves.
"God blessed me to be here for a reason," said Sam. "What I do is this year because it's a ministry for me."
Sam says he's just like the mailman. Winter, spring, summer, fall he's on his front porch, doing the wave.
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