Fond Memories of Detroit
These days you don’t hear much good news coming out of Detroit.Last month Detroit earned the dubious distinction of being the largest municipality in US history to file for bankruptcy.
But that is not the Detroit I remember. I was born in Henry Ford Hospital on July 21, 1960. I was only 8 years old when the Detroit Tigers came back from a 3-1 deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals by winning 3 games in a row to win the World Series. I remember driving around the city and honking the horn. I have a clear memory of seeing my first hippy. We were screaming and honking and he looked at us and smiled and flashed us the peace sign. My Dad was a big Tigers fan and we made many excursions to Michigan Ave and Trumbull, the home of Tiger Stadium, a classic ballpark with roots going all the way back to 1895.
Back in those days, Detroit had not one but two amusement parks. One called Edgewater Park was within a bike ride of my house. It wasn’t that big but had its own roller coaster and other rides. But the far more nicer one was the famous Boblo Island. The island located 18 miles from Detroit was serviced by two large ferry boats, the SS Ste. Claire and the SS Columbia. The boats could accomodate 2500 passengers each. The island itself was home to a vast array of rides including The Nightmare, Falling Star, Wild Mouse, Sky Streak, and Screamer. The Island also had its own zoo and small passenger train that took visitors around the park. Boblo Island also had the 2nd largest dance floor in the world, which could hold 5000 dancers at once. I went to a Catholic grade school which one day out of the year would treat the altar boys, patrol boys and girls to a day at the park. That was really living life large! A day at Boblo Island while the other kids went to school, and all on the school’s dime.
The Detroit Metropolitan area also sports Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. The facility is a huge indoor and outdoor complex that strives to preserve American history and display the various inventions of the industrial revolution. You can see how the first pilgrims lived and view historical artifacts such as Lincoln’s chair from Ford’s Theater, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, John F. Kennedy’s limousine and even Rosa Park’s bus. Not only was this an interesting place, but it was another good excuse to miss school! No teacher worth their salt could deny the educational value of a field trip there. And speaking of salt, Greenfield Village sold great salt water taffy and rock candy. Rock candy is basicly a big chunk of crystallized sugar on a string. I remember being fascinated by the glass blowers as they showed us how various vessels were made.
Then of course there was the tour of the Ford Rouge’s factory. Here you can see how cars are built from start to finish. I remember seeing the molten metal being poured into molds to form the bodies of cars. It was truly fascinating seeing the various stages of production. And yes, it was yet another chance to take a field trip and miss another day of school. All in all not bad. Instead of going to school, I could ride roller coasters, eat salt water taffy and watch cars being made.
There are so many other things that Detroit has to offer, that are still going on. One is the Detroit Freedom Festival, a huge firework display hosted by Detroit and Windsor, Canada celebrating the Independance Days of both countries. This event draws millions of people every year on both sides of the river. It is great fun to picnic by the river and stay for the show. Usually there is great entertainment too.
These are just a few of the things I enjoyed growing up in Detroit. There were many more. It is truly heart breaking to see the current state of the city. But don’t write Detroit off just yet. Just maybe Detroit will make a comeback just like those ’68 Tigers.