David Arledge spends hours every day in this spot. From the bench behind an empty baseball field, Arledge surveys his neighborhood’s centerpiece, Welles Park. He’ll stay here until noon or 1 p.m., when he walks across the street to his apartment to take his diabetes medication.
“Oh, I like this neighborhood," Arledge says. “When I first moved out here, there was all kinds of wine bottles, whiskey bottles out here in the park, but [former 47th Ward Ald.] Gene Schulter – he cleaned all that up. He was a good alderman. To me, he was.”
Arledge is 59 years old, and still has a deep southern drawl despite moving from Alabama more than 40 years ago, following his mom’s death. His older sister brought him to Chicago, and at 15 years old, he started working at a Chicago roofing and siding company. He worked there for years and years, but is now getting disability.
“I get $1,022 a month, but my rent is $745 a month. I don’t have nothing left out of my Social Security disability check,” Arledge says. “I got pins all in my right leg where I got hit with a baseball bat."
"I was leaving on my way to work to catch a bus, and they hit me and robbed me with a baseball bat. Yup, my right leg on both sides is full of pins. They stole my money, got my gold chain off my neck.”
That attack happened in the nearby Uptown neighborhood, before Arledge moved west to his current apartment. He says he doesn’t want to go back, but his rent in the Ravenswood-North Center area goes up every year.
Money issues weigh heavily on Arledge, and he’d like Mayor Rahm Emanuel to do something about rent costs.
“He probably could if he wanted to, I guess,” Arledge says. “I don’t know how it works.”
Arledge says as far as he knows, Emanuel’s done a good job in his first year in office. This park, he says, is still clean.