50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 24th Ward’s Loretta Scott, an aspiring tailor, feels tension between old-timers and new renters

May 23, 2012

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Loretta Scott, with Manuel Cedeno at work in his tailor shop.

I meet Loretta Scott in Bridgeport, six miles south and east from her home in North Lawndale. She’s behind the counter at a Halsted Street tailor shop. But she’s not an employee.

“I’m unemployed,” Scott, 54 years old, tells me. “I’m just observing.”

Observing Manuel Cedeno, owner of Cedeno Tailor Shop. Scott says she’s a fashion designer, mostly self-taught, looking to open her own tailor shop someday.

 

“I just came by looking for tailor shops,” Scott says. “And I just came in here and we just got to talking and everything and I asked [Cedeno], could I come in and watch him sometimes, and he said, ‘Sure.’ So I come every Monday… for two hours. “

How cool is that?

What is not so cool, according to Scott, is a trend developing in her North Lawndale neighborhood.

“What I like about my neighborhood is, most of the people are homeowners, and they take very good care of their homes,” Scott says. But “we have new neighbors from Section 8 [housing vouchers] and what I don’t like about it is that they’re not taking care of the property that they’re renting. And it’s making the people who have been living there for a while kind of upset.”

This causes tension. Old-timers complaining to each other about the newcomers. Quietly complaining.

“We don’t really know them and we don’t know how to communicate with them,” she says.

Scott wants the city to put more regulations on landlords – or at least enforce current rules – to make sure they keep up with yard work. Overflowing trash cans are also a problem.

 

“It got to the point that I had so many pictures on my phone of garbage I took them to the [Department of] Streets and Sanitation and I got a little upset and I just showed it to the manager or whatever,” Scott recalls. “I asked him, ‘Could you drive down my alley?’ So when he got off work, he drove down my alley and he saw what I was talking about. But it goes on so much I can’t keep going down to his office. He can’t keep coming through my alley after he gets off work.”

Scott grew up in Milwaukee and moved to her house more than 30 years ago, when she was a newly married 22-year-old.

“Sometimes I wish I could move,” Scott says, adding that finances prevent that. And so do memories.

 

“Every year we have a block party. We have, just, the neighbors that’s been there for so long. You know them, you know the children even before they were born. And it’s just like, [if you move] you just giving up a lot of people that you know and you probably will never connect to them again once you move.”