Senior Living | Essay | Chicago Reader

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Senior Living

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Age: 70

Occupation: Photographer, jewelry maker, writer

Rooms: Convertible studio in senior citizen housing. Rent: $355

Location: Bronzeville

Oldest Possession: Photo of Malcolm X shot in Accra, Ghana, in 1964

Favorite Possession: iMac

Stairmaster: Never uses the elevator. Lives on the 11th floor.

Not Pictured: Group photo taken in Ghana in 1966 with Ashanti chief who'd adopted him: "When the chief says you're OK, doors open for you."

About his work space (located on the flip side of his Korean War shrine): "If I didn't have it, I might go crazy. I might have to go out and get a job."

In his own words: "When I was six, seven years old, I would spin the globe around, put my finger on a spot, and my grandfather would tell me what country it was. My favorite places were Africa and Asia. At that time large spaces on the globe were labeled 'Unoccupied Territory,' and I would say, 'I'm going there.' My relatives said, 'You can't go, black people can't travel like that.' But I was determined. When I was ten I saw a sign, 'Uncle Sam Wants You,' and that's when I decided I would go with the army."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Lloyd DeGrane.

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