How did you come to Chicago?
I’ve been in Chicago since I was 12 years old. I was born in Mississippi and raised by my grandmother. Then we came to Chicago.
Why do you enjoy selling StreetWise?
I’m the kind of a person that likes people and I like to be with people that are sensible or people that are trying to do something good. I like to be involved with people, and that’s mainly what I’m about.
Have you always been a hard worker?
I had a paper route when I first [came to Chicago]. I was 12 and it was up on Taylor Street. I used to get up at 5 a.m. in the morning and go and sell my newspapers. Then I’d come back in time to go to school. I did this, because my mother didn’t have a lot of money, so then I got a job after school at the hot dog stand. I would peel the onions and [cook hot dogs]. Those are the things that I learned from my parents, which is how to make a living and how to be alright with people. And everything will come out alright for you.
How do you connect with your customers?
I just say, “Good morning” or “How are you today?” I don’t make a big deal and I don’t try to cross nobody out. I don’t talk down to nobody. That’s the kind of person I am. Like I said, I have respect for people, both men and women.
Looking back, would you change anything about your life?
I don’t think I would change anything. My wife passed away and I never got married no more. It was just something that I never did. You can’t go in pieces when something like that happens. That’s the way it is. I really don’t make changes too much. I just smile when something is good and I just keep on going.
Do you have any family nearby?
My children, I have a son and a daughter. One of my sons died from a cocaine addiction. He did something that I told him that he should never do. But the other ones, they’re working and going along. And they all care about their dad. My daughter is married. [My son and daughter] come around me every day. And if I get sick, they’re right there for me. Because I never throw my kids under the bus, that’s not me.
What do you like to do for fun?
If I have spare time, I like to go fishing in the summer time. I come from a farm. But mostly I’m at home, especially if it’s colder. And when my son-in-law and daughter come by the house, we have barbecues and stuff. And they look out for me. So I’m comfortable with who I am now and with what I’ve done. And I’m happy for my kids.
Felicia Nichols & Brittany Langmeyer
StreetWise Intern & StreetWise Staff