After spending his last four days in jail, Gavin Groce reflects on his past and where he wants to go from here.
David Cisney lounges on the stone steps of his home in Arlington Heights. He’s resting, taking a break from raking the yard. On this Saturday afternoon he’s getting some work done around the house because it’s the only day he doesn’t have a church-related activity planned. You won’t often find David sitting still. “I’ve lived a good life,” he says. “You know, when you live in the city, there’s always stuff to do and I can’t understand why the young people today have so many problems.”
Timothy Seeger greets “Mo,” a Muslim employee at Capitol Smoke Shop, 6924 W. Capitol Dr., with the customary greetings of “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greater”) and “As-salamu alaykum” (“peace be upon you”). Seeger, who’s there for two packs of Pyramid Blue King cigarettes, which he refers to as “modern-day peace pipes,” pays the bill of $11.50 in dollar bills and pennies. “When you think about it, there’s no fighting and no arguing when people are smoking cigarettes, for the most part,” says Seeger, who only began the habit three years ago, at 58. “They’re calm, relaxed; It’s like weed … but this is legal.”
Steven Davis stops to ask for a dollar near the corner of Capitol and Teutonia. He just got a job at Burger King, he says, but, today, he doesn’t have enough for the bus. “Just about three hours ago they called me on my phone,” says Davis. “At least I’m tryin’.” Davis sports a worn black leather jacket and a Green Bay Packers cap, despite the fact that his family is from Minnesota – he’s been in Milwaukee for about a year-and-a-half. “Oh, it’s beautiful; it’s different,” he says of his home state. Davis gestures to the corner where some young men are milling about. “They don’t play that in Minnesota. You go to school and you work and they don’t hang no dudes like this on the corner – you’ll never see that. Na, they do not play that.”
Calvin Weston lingers in the parking lot of Lena’s Foods near Teutonia and Capitol. Today, Weston’s selling CDs for two-dollars-a-piece; that’s not what’s on his mind, though, as he walks up to the thigh-high fence that divides the lot and sidewalk. Weston says he’s been trying to get his kids – who were taken from him and his fiancé and placed in foster care – back for the last 15 months. But, despite questions about their safety, the children have not been allowed back with their father. “It’s crazy because they say they take the kids for their protection but they took ‘em from us and called it ‘protecting ‘em’ but put them in an environment which was dangerous, actually. Before my son got abused, I was lettin’ the judge and everyone know, like, ‘I’m concerned about son’s well-being, something’s going on over there, could somebody check it out?’ And it took for him to get hurt for them to…finally, say something or do anything,” said Weston.
Douglas Moore tends Baylor’s Watermelons stand on the corner of Capitol and Sherman in Roosevelt Grove. “After I retired I just left home one day to go and get a watermelon and ended up working selling watermelon,” said Moore. The way he ended up doing what he’s doing might sound like chance – it was anything but.
Carl Anderson grew up in Chicago but he came to Milwaukee when he was young, in part to escape the violence there. Unfortunately, he said Milwaukee doesn’t seem so different, these days. “I got off track for a minute, started messing around in the streets, ended up going to prison, now I’m back out on parole and stuff and I’m trying to do right now,” he said.