‘Hollywood’ hopes to sell pens again

Wayne Joice is a man who knows you can’t trust everything you read.

The report of his death, as Mark Twain famously said, is exaggerated. Wayne Joice, known to Beachers as ‘Hollywood’, is alive and recovering from a serious illness.  PHOTO: Andrew Hudson
The report of his death, as Mark Twain famously said, is exaggerated. Wayne Joice, known to Beachers as ‘Hollywood’, is alive and recovering from a serious illness.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

Joice was in the Toronto General Hospital last month when a nurse told him the Beach Metro News had just published a letter saying he had died.

“I didn’t believe it,” he says.

The letter was a tribute by one of the many Beach residents who knows Joice by his nickname, ‘Hollywood,’ or simply as Wayne – the man who has sold pens at the corner of Queen Street and Lee Avenue for more than 25 years.

When Wayne stopped showing up at the corner in late April, she got worried. Disabilities, bad weather, kidney dialysis – nothing had ever kept Wayne away from work before.

When she finally asked about him at the Foodland grocery on the corner, she was told Wayne had passed away.

Last Monday, Wayne spoke with the Beach Metro News to set his story straight.

Although it didn’t kill him, the pneumonia he got this spring came awfully close. He is now recovering from a kidney-stent surgery and adjusting to life with the tracheotomy that saved his life.

Speaking at Toronto General, Wayne said he was so badly swollen when he came in that he could hardly open his eyes.

“I know I got here by ambulance,” he said. “That’s all I remember.”

Pat Pypher remembers that night – she’s the one who phoned for help.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” she said. “He’s hanging in there. For a little man, he’s stronger than I am, boy, to go through all that.”

Although they are not related, Wayne says he and Pypher grew up like brother and sister. Their mothers were good friends.

“She’s a terrific lady,” he said. “I love her with all my heart.”

Pypher was already an old friend of Wayne’s when he first got into the pen-selling business.

He was following his father, who was blind and who used to play a mouth organ outside Honest Ed’s until an illness made him switch to selling pencils.

“I expanded,” Wayne said, smiling. “I moved it up a bit, selling pens.”

Over the years, as Wayne kept coming to the Beach, Pypher twice helped him to find better apartments, the last one just down the hall from her own. As his legal next-of-kin, she has also helped him through medical issues and a few scrapes with the law.

And six years ago, it was Pypher who made sure Wayne could quit dialysis by donating a kidney to him.

“My poor husband – he was the last one to find out,” she says. “I told him I was going on holiday.”

In the next few weeks, Wayne will move from Toronto General to Bridgepoint, a rehabilitation centre where he can get 24-hour nursing care.

Pypher says it’s a good place, where he will have more independence and a level of healthcare beyond what she can provide. But neither of them is totally happy about it.

“I can’t go to my real home,” Wayne said. “I’m upset about that part. I can’t accept it yet.”

“He likes Queen and Lee,” Pypher explained. “He likes the people there.”

Wayne says people from the Beach are more likely to stop and say hi.

As if to prove the point, on Monday a Beach resident recovering from open-heart surgery came over to tell Wayne how glad he was to see him doing well and ask why he wasn’t at work.

“Are we going to be in Bridgepoint together?” he asked. “I’ll have to look for you.”

The week before, Jennifer Butterly, also a Beach resident, crossed the street to say hi to Wayne after spotting him from Princess Margaret Hospital, amazed to see him very much alive and trying to sell pens on University Avenue.

Asked what he would like to say to everyone who was worried about him, Wayne said he hopes he  gets well enough to return to his usual spot.

“I want to come back,” he said. “I miss you people a lot.”

Update: Wayne Joice left Toronto General Hospital in September and is now making day trips to his usual pen-selling spot at the corner of Lee Avenue and Queen Street East.

Joice told  Beach Metro News he is working hard to manage day-to-day life with a tracheotomy through a rehabilitation program at the Toronto Grace Health Centre and hopes he can move back to his own apartment by the beginning of next year.


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23 comments

While I’m thrilled that “Hollywood” is still with us I’m deeply concerned at the lack of professionalism shown by Beach Metro News. Let’s hope there’s a lesson learned here with respect to verifying information you publish.

Well they may not always get it right, but they are still a fabulous community paper and insults don’t help much.

You can’t blame the paper for being misinformed. It’s not like Wayne has a facebook page where we can track his whereabouts. How would you propose verifying the death of a seemingly homeless person who’s name most don’t even recognize as being his? In addition, it was their professionalism which prompted them (the kind folks of Beach Metro) to post this retraction. I personally am deeply concerned with your apparent lack of understanding in regards to punctuation. All that said, I’m glad Hollywood is alive and well.

Liam, a retraction isn’t a kindness. They screwed up. If they couldn’t confirm it, they shouldn’t have printed it. Laura’s criticisms are valid. And her punctuation is fine. I’m personally deeply concerned by your lack of understanding of contractions (it’s “whose,” not “who’s,” genius.)

While I’m not going to comment on the actual discussion at hand, I do feel the need to point out that, yes, Bob, there is a problem with “who’s,” but there is also a problem with Laura’s punctuation: a comma is required after “us.”

I would like very much to know that all is well with Wayne, “Wanna go to Hollywood”, or “The Pen guy”. Please confirm if you can he is still alive and well, before some of us set up a memorial for him, and make us all look just a little bit “creepy”, when perhaps he is just having a latte somewhere after a long hard day sending people to Hollywood. VS

Hi Wayne:

Well we are so glad to here that you are doing better. Never believe “everything” you hear. My daughter and I will be so happy to see you back at work on Queen.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Maggie Bedford

Hey Wayner, I’ll be burning some CD’s of your old buddy, Johnny Cash, for you when you return to the Beaches. My daughters, John and I were all pretty upset to first read about you and now this is the best news yet!

My daughter Erin , called me tonight to tell me that you are alive and well.

Hang in there Buddy! See you at Queen & Lee soon.

This story made my day! Thank you Beach Metro for sharing the great news. Mr. Joice, I hope your health continues to improve and that you can come home to the Beach soon.

So glad o hear that Wayne is still with us and miss you at Queen and Lee.
Thanks Beach Metro for this story!

Sue

If Pat Pypher is not related to him she is not his legal next of kin. She may have been legally designated as a substitute decision maker or power of attorney for healthcare or property but she isn’t legally next of kin if they are not related!!

You don’t need to be related to be someone’s kin LEGALLY. That is why they put LEGAL next of kin. Otherwise, just ‘next of kin’ would have been sufficient to get the point across.

Harold Pinter! How could you turn a wonderful story like this into a cold, legal situation??
Pat Pypher may not be related by blood to Wayne, but she’s definitely a ‘saint’ looking out for him! (She gave him her kidney!) …
So, thank you Pat; it’s good to know Wayne isn’t completely alone in the world.
And Wayne, try to relax and accept the wonderful care you’ll receive at Bridgepoint because the sooner you get well enough, the sooner you can come home to The Beach. We miss you, but we want to see you back healthy!
Get well soon, Mr. Hollywood!

Paul Quarrington wrote the most beautiful song about “Hollywood”…One of the great treasures in my world is having heard Paul sing that song, live at a bookstore in Kensington, on the Hoser march with Dave Bidini…
It’s not a bad thing that his obit was almost penned. It brought attention to Wayne, and he gets to understand how many people care for him, and wish him well, as do I.

“Hey, good-lookin’ !!!” and “…are you a movie-star?” and of course “Wanna buy a pencil?” ring in my ears.

Nice to know this Toronto fixture that I’ve been bumping into since High-School is still hanging strong!

Jase.

This news not only made my day, it made my summer. Wayne take your time with rehab cause although we want to see you, we can wait for you to be back to 100 percent. It is just great to know you are being well cared for. All the best.

If anyone should have their own reality show… it’s Hollywood. Unlike other ridiculous shows that fill the mind with b.s. – this one would fill a mind with hope and an almost baffling admiration for a person who carries on despite his physical limitations. He is unsinkable. Bravo Hollywood! His mandate is always accountable and honest. He just wants to smile and sell you a pen in the middle of a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. He has good energy – let’s spread it around. Welcome back Hollywood! Can’t wait to see you at the Beach soon! xxMarilynMonroe

Your story inspires me. I am the one who didn’t know anything about you. After learning how the community cares for you and how you kept trying in spite of weather,and illness and odds not in your favour, I will be one of the ones to line up to buy a pen from you. At any corner of the world you choose. Love “Marilyn”

I am happy that this man is alive but I don’t have a similar experience. Almost every time I’ve encountered this man he is swearing and screaming and saying very foul things to people. I know that he is sometimes a nice man and calls people Marilyn, and does his job, but he is not all there like this article is making him out to be.
I pray for his well being but I also pray he gets some help mentally.

In 1961 Elizabeth Taylor also had an emergency tracheotomy and she also read her own obituary at that time!
She said it was some of the best reviews she ever had! It happens !!
So glad to read about Wayne and his wonderful friend Pat. Very Touching!!

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