Leonard Gage Jr. has lived through challenges some could not even imagine. In the process, he learned from past failures and found a reason for hope.
Russell “Rusty” Green hauls buckets of tools from in front of a home just north of West Roosevelt Drive, where he’s just finished a concrete stoop. Green’s fingertips, stained with a thin, permanent-looking layer of white dust, match his grizzled beard. “We’re losing our future,” Rusty says, as he leans against his cream-colored pickup truck. “See, the youth are our future, right? And this is how we live forever, this is how our name stays in the book of life forever — through our kids, grandkids and so on, and so forth.
Emanuel Coe bounces a basketball down W. Ridge Ct., headphones in, music loud. His large frame, qualified by kind eyes and a soft-spoken-ness rare in someone his age, seems, somehow, less imposing. Coe grew up in the neighborhood and says that it, simply, feels like home. “I loved bein’ around here. I mean, my family’s all around here and…I come from here, so.”
Angie Opsahl stands in the street, just off the curb, in front of her home on the 4400 block of West Medford Avenue in Grasslyn Manor, sweeping up the final remnants of fall. Grey hair and a soft-yet-stern features define the aging visage. Indeed, the 64-year-old Opsahl has seen quite a bit but there isn’t anywhere else she’d rather be. “There’s no way I’d ever be able to move out. I absolutely love this city, I love this neighborhood – people are great,” she says.