Patricia Huff stands next to her grocery bags as she waits for the bus on the corner of 35th and Meinecke. She’s unassuming besides the largely toothless, lipsticked mouth and smoking cigarette in her hand.
Huff grew up in Logansport, Ind., but came to Milwaukee at a young age. “My dad molested me when I was five years old. And my mom sat there and watched him do it,” she says. “And, I went to school and said, ‘My pee pee hurts inside.’ I said, ‘I’m not goin’ back there.’ I didn’t go back.”
“They were two drunks. She was a prostitute and my dad was a drunk,” says Huff.
“I was ready to get away from there. Yeah, I was ready to get away from there.”
But, once she got to Milwaukee, it was completely different.
“It was alright,” she says. “I had some strict foster parents — they wouldn’t let me go nowhere. And, then, I couldn’t have no friends and stuff … and I ran away from there 21 times. Then I went to girl’s school and I ran away from there. And, then I got pregnant with my first child at 18 years old.”
“I was just here and there livin’, you know.”
It was during this time that Huff became “a drug dealer and user and an alcoholic and dope fiend.”
“I was with the wrong people, the wrong people,” she says. “But … I prayed the good Lord take it out my life and it’s been nine years without that.”
“I’m a daycare teacher; I’ll be at my daycare for eight years [on] May thirteenth.”
Huff takes care of newborns up to one year old. “It’s wonderful,” she says. “You see them learn how to talk, learn how to walk and … you learn a whole lot of things from them.”
“And I like to have a paycheck, ‘cause, see, I used to go pick up cans to support my needs. Didn’t work, no place to stay — [I’d] sleep in cars, abandoned houses — you know, didn’t give a damn.”
Now, Huff dreams of, one day soon, owning her own daycare. “Yeah, I’m qualified to do that, now,” she says.
“I felt like I was bullshit … but, now, I work with church people. Church people, yes.”
“Yeah, so, the Lord is good to me.”
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