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Why I Live Here: The Fisherman

What if a home wasn’t just a place to live but dictated how well you lived? The wrong home-buying decision could make you house poor meaning, you get to work until you are 70 years old instead of 60.

Said another way, a home is really about the use of money. As the cliché’ goes, “Do you own your toys or do they own you?” The fisherman got it right.

Back then he was a teenager who attended St. John’s Cathedral High School. Throughout the year in the early morning hours, he delivered the Milwaukee Sentinel, finishing his route as the coffee began to percolate in the worker cottages that dotted the neighborhood.

In the summer, in the late morning (still early to most), he fished the breakwater off McKinley Marina. It’s what he liked best about his newspaper delivery job. It gave him time to fish.

He grew up on 3rd/Brown in the late 1960’s in a cottage-style home, the type of home that housed the kettle workers from Schlitz Brewery in the early 1900s. The 1967 riots caused the neighborhood concern but that’s not why he left.

He left because he was young and unsure of what he wanted from life. He was of draftable age – in the age of the draft. Vietnam.

In 1970 he moved to a cottage hut with a bunch of guys who dressed alike.  The uniforms were green with a tint of camouflage.  He was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.  He could fish the bay when not on duty and rockets not red glaring.

The fellas (they were mostly but not all, fellas) weren’t welcomed home after their tour of duty like the men and women who serve today. It was wrong, hell; he was just following the orders of leaders whose sons had deferments. Somebody had to do it. He should have been thanked.

He had experienced the 1967’ riots and Vietnam over a 5-year period and heard John Lennon singing something about “Giving Peace a Chance” which sounded like a good idea. He moved to Florida. Sun, water, fish – a safer version of Cam Ranh Bay. Thought he’d give peace a chance.

He wanted a home. He was young with a dream and not much money.

It was ‘75 or ‘76 when he arrived in Florida, he couldn’t recall but he’d just finished a book on sailing by a Wisconsin writer. The author spoke of a perfectly trimmed sail, writing:

“You may not go fast but with the perfect trim you can enjoy a great sail on a great boat on a great day, ordinary really. Ordinary as perfect.”

The concept of “ordinary as perfect” made him realize a simple home, needing a little paint up-fix up, could provide his housing start. If he waited until he could afford the perfect home – he’d never have a home. Besides, buying the ordinary would allow him to use some of his money to create the adult version of delivering newspapers. He could start a business.

Today he remains in the same home he purchased those many years ago. The money he didn’t spend on a too large home he didn’t need allowed him to start a business – a fish business.

This past winter while on my annual visit to a Florida island we purchased the last crab cakes of the day. His ordinary home has served him well. He runs his own business – which allows him to run is own life – which allows him to fish.

Why do you live here? I asked.

“I wanted to live in a warm climate and I wanted to fish. It was that simple. I may not have intentionally purchased an ordinary house but it’s what I could afford, so I bought it and worked on it. It’s provided me a place to live and the ability to sell crab cakes.”

In the end it’s about the use of money. I know little about fish. I know a good deal about real estate and the use of money. Don’t get hooked by all the real estate noise.

If you’d like to discuss your real estate options give us a call. We’ll talk over a coffee. Maybe you’ll buy a home. Maybe you’ll run your own life someday. Maybe you’ll attain the ordinary perfect.

Thanks for reading,
Michael D. Holloway

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Homebuyer Associates
1835 N. Riverwalk Way
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414-254-4129