Life hasn’t been kind to Mostafa Saifula lately, but he remembers what a “normal life” used to feel like.
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.
Bonnie Drew bends over to extract a weed from her garden, which covers almost the entire yard of her home in Enderis Park. Though, long ago, Drew picked up and left the northern Wisconsin town she was born in, there are still elements of that life she hasn’t been able to leave behind. “It was completely different,” she says. “I mean, it was a small community so, you know … everybody helped each other out. You don’t see that too much anymore.”
Diego Sebastian pushes his cart of elotes (boiled or grilled corn on the cob), papas (hot and spicy Mexican potatoes) and chicharrones (fried pork rinds) up South 30th Street, honking a loud horn. Sebastian, who’s been in Wisconsin for 10 years, is trying to attract customers. “Me, I push carts,” he says, as he scans the street. “[There’s] nobody outside, no have monies.”
Reuben Coleman grew up in Cleveland, Mississippi, during the 60s in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. “There were the riots going on and the marching and all that old type of stuff.” But it didn’t take long until Coleman decided to move on. At 19 he left his hometown with a taste for adventure, making stops in California, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas before ending up in Wisconsin.