Reed was on The Avenue welding his first piece of pipe in 1935. By World War II, the Reed Machine Shop was working around the clock to keep oil flowing from the drilling rigs that had been raised by a booming industry.
Although Reed built a home 35 years ago for about $8,000 near the city's east end, the 75-year-old businessman still looks to The Avenue for his livelihood.
"The Avenue is just what it is," said Reed, who employees 16 people at his shop.
"It's never been upper-crust. It's a source of a living."
McDonald, a 26-year-old hairdresser from Ventura, grew up being told The Avenue was the bad side of town.
Today, she and her husband, Scott, a produce broker in Oxnard, live in a new $200,000 house at the Brock Hills Paseo Del Mar development--a tract of 101 pink stucco homes at The Avenue's north end.
"I was a little concerned, but with the freeway on-ramp so close and not having any school-age children, we decided it was OK," said McDonald, the mother of a 21-month-old boy.
Peterson, 35, an art instructor at Ventura College and curator of its two galleries, bought a small bungalow on The Avenue for $99,000 last year.
Peterson saw The Avenue's funky charm and its cast of misfits as inspirations for his painting.
"I like the bag people and the alcoholics and the street people, who even might be schizophrenics. It gives some excitement to the place," he said. "It's like the last stop before boredom and middle-class values. It's the only place where you can really be who you are."
Padilla, mother of 10 and grandmother of 21, has spent the last dozen years on The Avenue living at Westview Village--a 180-unit federally subsidized housing complex known as "The Projects."
At 62 and disabled from her job at an electronics assembly plant, Padilla passes her days caring for the children and tending to the $500-a-month apartment, which she shares with a daughter, 24, and a 5-year-old grandson.
Padilla said: "People tell me, 'How can you live there?' I say, 'Where do you expect me to go?' Besides, I'm comfortable."