William McGee has struggled to find meaning in a life where the next day is never guaranteed. But, through self-reflection, he’s been able to see himself, and the world around him, differently.
M.D. Dangerfield Jr. sits in a yard near 2nd and Nash in Williamsburg Heights. A small, portable grill is filled to the brim with meats; children play on the sidewalk nearby. Dangerfield — draped in a white, tank top undershirt and a towel that hangs from his shoulder — looks on. “I’ve been around here ‘bout a good six, seven years. It’s a big difference from where I’ve been,” says Dangerfield, who was born and spent most of his early childhood in Chicago. “It’s more peaceful.”
Bessie Jeter leisurely drags on a cigarette while standing on the porch of her longtime home on the 3700 block of North 2nd Street. She wasn’t born in Milwaukee but she’s been here for more than forty years. “I was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi,” she says. “It wasn’t bad. I grew up, I learned how to work hard, I picked and chopped cotton until I was 18 years of age and I left home when I graduated from high school.”
Norma Wheeler sits on the front port of her home in Williamsburg Heights. Wheeler raised all of her children in the house, located on a one-way strip of 2nd Street, where she’s lived for more than 50 years. “I’ve been livin’ in Milwaukee all of my adult life. I raised all of my kids here, in this particular house, and I get along with my neighbors pretty good,” she says.
Aaron Wood sits in an alley near 2nd and Ring, just outside his garage, working on a friend’s car. Doing bodywork and car interiors are just a couple of Wood’s many hobbies. But, when it comes to work, when it comes to paying the bills, Wood found something that worked and stayed with it. “I’ve been at the company I’m at now…for like 16 years,” he says.