Old North Milwaukee, People

“We’re all god’s children”

Ed swaggers up a nondescript, but busy block of North 40th Street. He pulls a tallboy can of beer from a light-colored jacket and puts the drink to his lips.

“I was spoiled most of my life. But, um, bein’ out in the world has a way of, you know, you have a way ‘a gettin’ over that,” he says. “Just, you know, meetin’ people on your path — you know what I mean? Doin’ what your mom and dad didn’t raise you to do, you know, but … I mean, you learn.”

Ed was a youngest child — well, second youngest, but the youngest of his mother’s. He grew up on the east side, on Palmer Street between Locust and Chambers, and near Keefe Avenue. Ed attended Pierce Elementary, Bartlett Avenue School, 21st Street School and Sholes Middle School. He graduated from Riverside High School in 1987.

“I never had a problem in school,” says Ed. “The only problem I had was, uh, I just — I don’t know — I just felt like I shoulda been somewhere else.”

The learning wasn’t the hard part for Ed — in fact, he says he would even do some of his sister’s college homework from time to time. It was the racism he experienced, from both the black and white students, he says.

“The bullshit that went on there,” he says. “Some of the teachers were very good teachers but some of the shit you had to go through with the students that were there, or what have you, I didn’t appreciate that.”

“So, you know, you had to fight sometimes.”

Ed describes his mom as “probably one of the best moms I know.” His dad, he says, was a “rollin’ stone,” a ladies man. He still got an allowance, though. “He was, like, the enforcer,” Ed says.

“I was just basically rebellious. You know what I mean?”

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After high school, Ed worked “a series of jobs” and even had a son. But it sounds like that road was rocky, as well.

“I was in his life at a young age,” he says. “Then, when I was with his mother, she didn’t want him to be around. Then, later on, she dropped him off after she kicked him out because every time she saw him she would get on his case … because he reminded her of me. So, that’s all I care to say right now.”

Ed says he’s still close with a couple of his siblings but his relationship with the others is a bit strained.

“Of course your family wants the best for you. You know, when you make decisions that they don’t agree with … then they try to give you tough love, which never works. You know what I mean? I’m not sayin’, you know, uh … just hand everything to you on a silver platter when you’re fuckin’ up but tough love doesn’t work.”

Even though some of the people in his life don’t agree with some of the decisions he’s made, Ed is at peace with where he is.

“Basically I love my neighborhood — I love the streets. I can’t explain why, I just do. I love my neighborhood.”

And, he’s trying to make the best of it. “I’m looking forward to serving my purpose while I’m here on earth and being a positive influence on those that I come across in my journey of life, before I leave here,” he says. “Because your purpose changes from time to time — you know what I mean? [Sometimes] you don’t exactly know what it is. But, I just hope to have left a positive … mark on the lives that I’ve touched.”


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