Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.
Between the snow of a couple weeks ago and the rain today, I took a walk. It was great walking along the path through the park without having to worry about slipping on ice. I followed it toward the business district. It had been a while since I’d been on Milwaukee Avenue. So many empty storefronts.
I stopped by the Wild Flour bakery. Thank goodness that’s still there. It was buy-one-loaf-of-bread- get-a-second-one-for-$2 Wednesday. Out of cranberry, my fave. So I settled for one raisin and one sesame seed.
On down the street, I decided to drop in another place I’ve frequented on occasion. The consignment store. A sign was in the window. Going out of business.
How come? I asked the woman inside I assumed to be the owner.
The economy, she said, and spat out the name of the current White House resident like an epithet. People don’t come in the way they used to, she added. No one has money to spend and even if they did, they wouldn’t be spending it on antiques.
I looked around. A few pieces of nice-looking furniture left. No room in my house to put any of it. A bowl that looked like it might match my daughter’s dishes, but I couldn’t tell for sure. And even if it did, I didn’t know if she needed one.
We chatted a bit more about the current dismal state of affairs. Crumbling infrastructure, watchdog and regulatory agencies underfunded, understaffed, and more. That all seemed so remote from South Milwaukee and her plight.
These’s one good thing she thought might emerge from the belt-tightening. People would get back to the basics, back to being closer as families, back to spending time with each other. That, I said, would be a good outcome.
I wished her well and left. Walking into a chilly wind on the way home, I thought about an interview I’d heard on the radio a few days earlier with Bucyrus owner Tim Sullivan. He talked about the great work ethic of people here and his commitment to the area in deciding to keep his company in South Milwaukee.
Sure hope the benefit to the community starts taking hold soon.