Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Deep Roots,Relations on Detroit's East Side

My dad would say that I think too much.

And, when he did, I'd leave my studies and go play some.

I ponder at times about growing up on Detroit's East Side near Lynch Road and Van Dyke, a stone's throw from the Detroit City Airport on French Road.

My parents drove us to that airport on Sundays to watch the planes land and take off.

Up until perhaps a decade ago, I could catch a plane from City Airport to Chicago and back home. My young nephews, Jeff and Tim, flew to watch the Pistons play the Windy City team.

Times have changed. Only comercial flights do business there now.

Nevertheless, family and neighbors were tight then. We knew each other well.
In fact, gossip served to keep us kids accountable. We knew how to behave or pay the price of punishment from dad or mom who would hear about my brother, his friends and me, raiding the neighbor's piegeon coop, for example on Tappan, the street through the alley from our Arcola Street home. We could be bad boys also! And, be disciplined when caught, however!

Alleys are a thing of the past also, however. Horse and buggy with driver would search them to recycle or cash in on selling the goods lifting from our garbage each week.

Mr. Kowalski, Mr. Suminski, Mr. White, Mr. and Mrs. Sakmar, Jesse and Red Edgette and Terry. A litany of names emerges for me. Many were Polish and Catholic Americans who loved this land and would spill blood for it as so many vets I know did.

Mrs. Lewandowski was a nurse who lived across the street from our aluminum, two-storied home that contained the nine of us, our dog, Chipper, and our harem of friends who gathered often when mom's home-baked apple pies filled the notrils and olfactory of hungry and hearty eaters who were growing fast.

That's changed also.

Few people I know cook from scratch these days like mom who made chocolate cake with flour, eggs, cocoa, eggs, baking powder and an oven. Creamy chocolate icing was indeed icing on the cake!

Sundays saw neighbors gather at the local parish church of Saint Thomas the Apostle on Miller at Townsend, further south on Van Dyke, or, Holy Name of Jesus just north of us near McNichols, off of Van Dyke.

Walking there often, we went past Forestlawn Cemtary (the Prostestant one), and, got very close to Mt. Olivet Cemetary (the Catholic one) where mom, dad, and our brother Lucas who was killed in Vietnam in '68 now rest, along with countless other relatives of Polish-American stock and heritage. Chipmunks in either cemetary fled from my brother and me. We poured a jug of water into their holes and bottled them for the trip home. God knows what we did with them after. I think we just let them go. Memory fails. (Wait 'til you get older!)

That's the past.

And, there's no future in it.

Yet, that past formed and fashioned my four sister and two brothers and me.

We learned the "courtliness" of Saint Francis. We grew the courtesy that was required in our daily discipline, or else.

That's seems to be a thing of the past for many today also.

Oh well...


I love it. Won't leave it. I will relish and savor it forever and squeeze every moment out of its beauty and awesomeness in the roots and relations that made me, praise God.

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