We are the Other - Reggie at 38th Avenue & 4th Street, South Minneapolis, Minnesota (2012)
This was the spot. Back in the day, some forty years ago when Jet Record and Crown Barber Shop were on the corners, Reggie would hang out with his boys doing the things bad boys did, smoking, drinking, singing, shooting dice, stealing potato chips out of a potato chip factory or beer and pop off a truck. “We weren’t a gang,” he says. Just the guys other moms would tell their children to stay clear of.
“Mom worked several jobs, but she didn’t have the money to go out and buy me a bike, so we stole them,” says Reggie. “Not that stealing is right.” He was in and out of juvenile detention, kicked out of two schools and ended up in jail for seven months before getting serious with his life. He worked construction for 30 years and is now retired. Many of his friends from those days are dead or in prison.
Reggie never married but he fathered four children, and now lives in a studio apartment with two of his boys, age 25 and 33. The younger one just got out of prison and he’s trying to keep them both off the street. He tells them the same thing his mother told him: “Give me my flowers now. Don’t bring them to my grave.” In other words, make me proud now instead of when I’m dead. When he says this to his boys they tell him, “Dad, you ain’t going nowhere.”