Editor’s note: Kevin and Dave roamed Bruce Randolph Avenue and talked to most everyone they saw. Every day during Street Week, we’re rolling out mini profiles of the everyday heroes they found. Find more here.
Roderick Richardson spells it out for the new kids on the block. It’s the name of his favorite cheeseburger from Brown Sugar’s Burgers and Bones, a long-closed restaurant in the neighborhood he’s lived in for 51 years. George Brown, Richardson’s foster dad, owned the spot.
“It’s a cheeseburger with his special-made chili on it,” Richardson said, leaning on the chain-link fence in his backyard along Bruce Randolph Avenue, where he and his family and friends were getting into a Friday evening vibe. “And it was the best.” Then, his voice forlorn and his speech slurred, “I wish I had Brown Sugar’s back.”
He can remember when “Daddy” Bruce Randolph’s barbecue spot was still open, about a half-mile west. He said Randolph was like family. He watched the street and its people shift through time.
But Richardson doesn’t really mourn change. His street has seen new development and new businesses in recent years.
“I don’t mind the community building up,” he said. While he’s quick to go long on any back-in-the-day topic, he’s OK with the newness in and around Bruce Randolph. He said a lot of Black people in the neighborhood have died and passed their houses on to their kids, who sold their homes in a market dominated by white people.
“Don’t care if you Black, white, Chinese, whatever. You got something to say, say it in a positive way. Come up here negative, please, just leave. We don’t need that,” he said.
Richardson goes by Squeaky. He jokes that he came out of the womb with the nickname. It’s even tattooed across his chest. Squeaky is his street name — he used to be in a gang but “it’s been damn near 30 years.”
“Good neighborhood, good people. But sometimes, you know what I mean, we have a little corruption.”
What kind of corruption?
“Gang violence, whatever bull crap goes around. But the point is, everybody gets along with everybody.”
“A lot of Black people moved out of the neighborhood. And the neighborhood still the neighborhood, but the point is a lot of white people moved in, and a lot of people’s houses — there’s so much new stuff around here. I don’t care because I’m from here. This ain’t gonna change,” he said, presenting his home with a wave of his hand.
Family endurance. That’s what squeaky calls it.