Our very own Hoochie Mama on A&E!

by kelly

The house diagonally across the street from us has been quite the focus of neighborhood concern and curiosity over the past year or so.

Most of the houses on our street in our working- to middle-class neighborhood are well-maintained with nicely groomed yards. As neighbors, we have a mixture of retired people and younger teachers, policemen, and others who are required by their work to live within��the Milwaukee city limits.

When we first moved in, two and a half years ago, we quickly surmised that the house in question was occupied by a somewhat frail,��elderly woman with failing memory, and her deadbeat nephew.  The nephew seemed to be an alcoholic, who was always either falling asleep in a lawn chair in the yard or making his next run, in his truck, to pick up fast food or more booze.

Occasionally, we would wake in the night to the flashing lights of police cars and/or fire trucks at their house. The officers would spend some time in the house and then leave again.

About a year later, the nephew’s social and business life seemed to pick up considerably.  Although his truck had been impounded (and returned) several times, he started driving up in any number of other vehicles.

Where did he get the cars?, we wondered. Did he have a friend in the used car business? One neighbor kept a running log of the various license plates on the cars.

Meanwhile, traffic to the house began to increase.  A strange mixture of people began to drop by for very short visits. We feared that the nephew was selling drugs from the home.

Luckily, our observant neighbors weren’t content to just sit by. They reported not only the possible drug activity, but also notified the city of the deteriorating condition of the house and of the suspicious automobiles.

Things got even more interesting when he seemed to make a lady friend. Like the nephew, she would arrive at the house in various cars – usually occupied by men. She would make out with the men (different men) before going into the house.

We weren’t sure if she was there, ostensibly, to take care of the older woman (was she a relative?), or if she was only there to spend time with the nephew. It seemed quite possible that she was a prostitute, and we nicknamed her the Hoochie Mama. She wasn’t an unattractive gal, but the goings on over there were strange, strange, strange.

I had the chance to observe the house, and the frequent comings and goings of the nephew, the Hoochie Mama, and others, during my maternity leave last fall.

One day, Paul heard the nephew and Hoochie Mama talking about getting the old lady to sign a trust over to them.

They were clearly up to no good. Somebody reported the situation to the city’s elder-abuse hotline.

Finally, one day, the elderly woman’s family arrived from Colorado. They convinced her to go back there with them. They also changed the locks, and we learned that the nephew didn’t actually live in the house, at all! It turned out that the nephew had already gone through over $60,000 of her assets.

Suddenly, the nephew couldn’t get into the house anymore, although I saw him come back and try the door a few times.

The Hoochie Mama and her companions stopped showing up.

And the variety of cars parked on our street returned to a normal number again.

One day, Paul and I were intrigued to see a couple of cameramen with impressive-looking cameras filming the house.

More recently, a group of other people arrived at, and stayed in the house for a couple of weeks while they diligently repaired it; they scraped off peeling paint, gave the house a new paint job, and some new windows. They trimmed bushes, and probably cleaned inside. We had heard previously that the interior of the house had been terribly dirty.

And now the house is for sale. It’s a relief. We hope that some nice family who will take good care of the place will move in.

But last night was the real kicker. Some of the neighbors were watching the Intervention show on A&E, and suddenly saw shots of that house and of their own houses and part of our house! The cameramen we had seen had been from A&E!  And the Hoochie Mama (I guess her real name is Tammi) was being treated to an Intervention, courtesy of her family, about her alcoholism.

Call me a voyeur, but I can’t wait to see the show.  I hear one of the neighbors may have taped it. (I believe the episode is #27 from the second season.�� The title is Tammi and Daniel).

I certainly had a chance to see Tammi in action.  And although I hope that the program will help her to change her habits, she seemed pretty happy as a Hoochie Mama.  I don’t know that she’ll be up for leaving that life behind.

I never thought that the Hoochie Mama from across the way would get footage of our street on national TV. But she did. Way to go, and good luck, H.M.

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