From growing up in one of Milwaukee’s most challenged neighborhoods to running a business of her own, Kathy Kingcaid has lived her life with no regrets.
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.”
Deirek Smith pushes a tattered stroller down West Lancaster Avenue on a sunny spring day in Old North Milwaukee. The stroller is filled to capacity with a mound of scrap metal — mostly an air conditioner he had the fortune of coming across. Smith, 57, walks with a leisurely gait toward a scrap yard on Mill Road. “I was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I been here since 1964. And, my life took some real [turns], after one lady I was with for, what, 20 years, she died of cancer. And, then, after her, I met another lady and she died of cancer after 8 years,” he says. “So, I’ve been just doin’ this.”
Greg Greer grew up on 9th and Keefe. The 50-year-old Greer, who now lives near Teutonia and Villard, had a lot to say about neighborhoods, gangs and the cycle of violence. Greer points down the block. “Been living in that same building over there 20-some years and, I mean, I’ve done seen this [neighborhood] just fall apart,” he said.
Ursa Worlds sits on the porch of her daughter’s home on North 31st Street as her granddaughter rides her bike. World recently returned to Milwaukee from Beloit and is currently at the Boudicca House, which provides transitional housing and other programs for homeless women veterans. “They help you with employment, they help you with, you know, whatever issues you might have.”