Little Compton fund-raiser is for the birds, literally

Effort underway to help Ed Aldrich and his birds, Sasha and Casey Jones, outfit a new bus to call home

By Ted Hayes
Posted 10/8/21

Ed Aldrich isn't worried so much about himself as the cold weather approaches, but for his two long-time companions and best friends, Sasha and Casey Jones.

Sasha is a former rescue bird, a …

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Little Compton fund-raiser is for the birds, literally

Effort underway to help Ed Aldrich and his birds, Sasha and Casey Jones, outfit a new bus to call home

Posted

Ed Aldrich isn't worried so much about himself as the cold weather approaches, but for his two long-time companions and best friends, Sasha and Casey Jones.

Sasha is a former rescue bird, a salmon-crested cockatoo that speaks constantly, and Casey Jones a quieter African gray parrot. Aldrich, 54, has owned Sasha for about six years, Casey Jones for 34.

"So long as the birds stay warm, that's all I need," he said Thursday evening, sitting on the back of his home for the last eight or nine years, the so-called 'Bird Bus.'

The black bus is a regular and instantly recognizable sight around Little Compton. School children wave and call out when he drives by the Commons. The bus can often be found at South Shore Beach, and Aldrich parks it at various friends' properties around town, moving regularly to a new spot "so I don't wear out my welcome anywhere."

But Mr. Aldrich learned recently that the old bus needed $8,000 or more of front end work, and even with that done would still be on its last leg. So with the help of his father, he recently purchased Bird Bus II, a small decommissioned school bus that once ferried schoolchildren around Durham, Ct. Though it runs, getting his $4,000 purchase habitable will cost thousands more. His friends in Little Compton have started a gofundme online-raiser to help out. So far, the effort has brought in about $1,800 of its $20,000 goal.

"Ed's a really nice guy," said his friend, Little Compton resident Rhonda Marvell. "I don't have the means to give him $20,000, but I'm hoping the community will come together. I guess I have a kid heart, or a weak heart, for people who need help."

Marvell first met Aldrich about three years ago and started throwing him a bit of work — painting, carpentry and other small jobs. They've been good friends ever since. She has spread the word about him, and Aldrich now gets regular odd jobs up and down the farm coast.

"He's done a lot of work for me," she said. "He would do anything for you."

Aldrich suffers from a neurological condition that results in frequent headaches, which often evolve into migraines and, without medication, grand mal seizures. The condition leaves him unable to hold down full time work, and he instead relies on handyman jobs to bring in a small income.

"It's not that I don't want to work," he said Thursday. "I wish I could (hold down a 9-5 job). But with my issues I can't do it."

But he is at peace with his life, and the divorced former Florida resident said he is happy in his small mobile home. Sasha and Casey Jones bring him joy every day, he said.

"I don't have a lot of needs. I'm single, and no matter where I go I have everything I need right here."

If he can raise enough funds in the coming weeks, he will begin fixing up the new bus. He plans to insulate the walls, put in a new floor, install a good set of cages, and hopefully install a small wood stove to keep warm, among other projects.

"As soon as I can," he said when asked how soon he'd like to get it all squared away. "We try to avoid the cold weather as much as possible. It's hard on them."

As he talks, Sasha sits patiently on his right forefinger, with Casey Jones perched on his left shoulder. The birds have their own distinct personalities, and while Casey Jones is quiet and relaxed, Sasha generally loves to talk. A lot.

"Building another bus?" a UPS driver asks as he walks by to deliver a package to the Burchard Avenue home, owned by friends, where the bird bus is currently parked.

"Yep," Aldrich says.

"Hello! Hello! Hello!" Sasha replies, as the UPS guy walks by and gives a thumbs-up.

"Hello!"

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