By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Dec 29, 2002 at 5:04 AM

It's been said that Milwaukee is a magnet, drawing back people who journey to the farthest corners of the world. But not everyone returns to Milwaukee, not even just for the holidays.

Recently, two women -- both named Jennifer and both from Milwaukee -- lamented about their decision not to return to Milwaukee for the holidays, and expounded on their thoughts about living in this city in general.

Jennifer (Matyniak) Kruper moved to Milwaukee to live with her father at the age of 12 after her mother passed away. She attended Shorewood Intermediate School and graduated from Shorewood High at the top of her class in 1988. She later earned a degree from UWM in 1993. She moved from Milwaukee's East Side the same year to attend a graduate program at the University of Chicago, where she met her future husband.

The couple married, relocated to the East Coast, had a son and moved back to Chicago a few years ago. Kruper, now 31, is a writer for an educational software company.

OMC: Do you think you will ever move back to Milwaukee?

JK: No, but I should point out that although I didn't return to Milwaukee, it was a major, positive thing in my life to return to the Midwest. I think that was such a great thing because I returned to an area full of people with similar values. I think Midwesterners (be they in Chicago, Milwaukee, Minnesota, etc.) share a sense of values that is different from some other areas of the country. I think we value hard work (more than income), honesty, simple pleasures. Returning to Chicago felt like "coming home" in the best possible way. I think in much the same way that moving back to Milwaukee from some far-flung place would feel.

OMC: What is a drag about living in Milwaukee?

JK: Well, I seriously doubt that I'll ever move back so I must have some things for this category...Although they may be less what I find a "drag" about Milwaukee per se, more what I find "wonderful" about living in Chicago. Some of the very things that I "miss" about Milwaukee also cross-over into the "drag" department. The "scale" ... the limitations of economic opportunities, the limitations of choices in residential communities and the limitations of social circles. Living in Chicago simply presents more choices and more diversity in these areas. So, I think my decision not to return has less to do with very particular Milwaukee things, and more to do with size of city in general.

OMC: What do you miss about Milwaukee?

JK: The close ties with people, the shared history. I sometimes miss the scale, the ease of getting around, the ease of getting out of town. The facility with which you can be at the "center" of things that are happening.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jennifer Kulbeck was asked the same questions. Kulbeck was born and raised on the West Side and graduated from both Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and UWM before moving to San Francisco in 1997.


She currently lives in the Upper Haight with her husband and works as a continuing education director at a San Francisco university.

OMC: Why did you leave Milwaukee?

JK: I moved for three reasons: I was in love; I was at the perfect time in my life to make a change - just finished my undergrad degree and had been working for a little while, trying to figure out what I'd do next; and my mom encouraged me and gave me the best advice, "If you don't do this now, when will you? Don't be afraid to make a change."

OMC: What was a drag about living in Milwaukee?

JK: There are three major things that are a drag about living in Milwaukee. The crime in Milwaukee is oppressive. The racism and segregation in Milwaukee is also oppressive. Not enough art comes to Milwaukee. If you live in Milwaukee, you have to go to the music, go to the theater, go to the readings, go to the galleries -- they do not come to you -- which much of the time means going to Chicago or Minneapolis or Madison.

OMC: What do you miss most about Milwaukee?

JK: The thing I miss most about Milwaukee is the nose-to-the-grindstone, do things the hard way, hardcore work ethic of a blue-collar town. I also miss the way people in Milwaukee are super tough and skeptical on first impression and then go on to welcome you into their lives with such a kind, wholesome, trusting attitude.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.