50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 37th Ward’s ‘Winky’ Buchanan wishes he was in Iowa

June 20, 2012

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Greg "Winky" Buchanan is done with Chicago.

“My name is Greg T. Buchanan and my neighborhood sucks.”

That’s how my interview with Winky begins. He doesn’t use “Greg” much, he tells me, standing next to the deli counter at a small grocery store in the city’s Austin neighborhood.


“You have violence. The kids don’t have a place to go anymore. Like, when I was growing up we had a place to go after school,” Buchanan says. If the kids had more activities “they wouldn’t be running the streets night and day.”

Still, some of the problems he sees with the city, with his neighborhood, he says they’re self-imposed and have a lot to do with drugs. He wants things to “go back to the old way.”

“It took a neighborhood to raise kids. You know, and it’s like, if I done something at your house I got a spanking, and then if you took me home I got another spanking. You know, so it’s like now kids having kids, so if nobody teach you how to be a woman or a man, how’s somebody going to teach the babies to be a woman or a man?”

Buchanan, 45, was born and raised in Chicago. But he doesn’t want to die here.


“To be honest with you, I just want to leave Chicago,” Buchanan says. “I just said I was going to take…a coin, throw it on a map and wherever it landed, that’s where I’m going.”

“I used to stay in a small town called Clinton, Iowa. And it was…nice, small, nice place to raise kids, boring, but it was nice for the kids, though.”

Buchanan lived there in Iowa about five years ago, for about three years. He had a job driving trucks, but moved his family back because he missed the rest of his family.

“I wish I’d have never came back. That was the biggest mistake that I’ve ever made,” he says. “When I left here [for Iowa], I was doing a whole lot better and I don’t know why I came back...because you think you missing something and really you not missing nothing, you know.”

He’s made other mistakes. Buchanan, without hesitation, says he’s been in prison twice.


“Once, for five bullets that I didn’t have. And in ’92 I used to be a drug dealer. You know, so yes, I used to be a part of the problem that was going on out there in the neighborhood," Buchanan says. "And actually when I sit back and I look back, and I see the things that I’ve done it actually makes you feel bad, if you grew up with morals and I grew up with morals.”

Now, he’s an entrepreneur, he says. He has a small, outdoor retail business in front of a closed down Moo & Oink a few blocks away.

“Towels, clothes, shoes, stuff like that,” he says. “I’d rather work for myself than work for somebody else. Because I don’t have to deal with no headaches. I can sit all day, have fun and people bring me they money. So that’s fine, you know.”

But Buchanan wants to get away. He wants to be a bible teacher – a bible teacher somewhere else. Chicago, he says, has left a bad taste in his mouth.


“Our mayor? I think he sucks,” Buchanan says, before he acknowledges one of his biggest beefs with Rahm Emanuel actually goes back to the car-booting policy of former Mayor Richard Daley.

“If you take people’s cars, how’re they going to get to work? You know? And the doubling and the tripling of the tickets, I don’t agree with. I think that’s called being greedy. You know, if I didn’t have the money to pay the first time, you doubling it, then you taking my license, then, is everything is about, ‘I wanna lock you up now.’ You know?”