“Milwaukee’s Drum Center” had been a computer-less sanctum that relied on a pair of rotary phones to communicate with the outside world. Wannabe customers often had to knock on the front door to get in, and then Regalado would lock it behind them with a long screwdriver. With a captive audience in place, he’d explain how the United States had lost track of the male gender’s primacy, how Milwaukee used to be a city of great industrial pride, how fast food was tantamount to paying for trash, how, like Jesus, he ate only bread and wine and fish, and how he never walked into a store without knowing what he wanted to buy and how much money he needed.
Most of his stories were believable. Famous people had shopped there, like Jimi Hendrix and jazz drummer Max Roach. But by 2012, his inventory looked picked over, every last piece of it inked with the Faust logo. During a one-day sale in 2013, a line of customers wrapped around the block and cleaned out most of the store’s remaining drums, leaving a few dozen guitars that ended up at The Music Cafe. A total of four buildings will be built on the lot, including two for apartments, something Regalado might not have liked. He would often gripe about Bay View property owners tearing down old buildings. He didn’t even like the neighborhood’s name. “They call it Bay View to get more money out of you,” he said. “This used to be Milwaukee.”