Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The New House

My parents moved to a new house with more room. Actually it was an older home that was converted into a three family home. My parents had the whole second floor.

On the first floor lived a Mexican family with several children. I first saw them when they were playing on the porch. They had a snack of buttered tortillas. I felt so sorry for them having such a poor snack. Guess what was one of my children's favorite snacks when they were older... right you are. Buttered tortillas.

A smaller apartment on the first floor was empty. My husband and I rented it.

The neighborhood was so nice and extremely clean. In Detroit there are ethnic pockets scattered throughout the city. This was a Polish neighborhood.  Newcomers are looked upon with suspicion. We had lived there for several years before being accepted.

The house on one side was home to a family from 'down South'. They had 4 little girls. They were such nice people and became good friends.

On the other side lived an older woman and her brother. The older woman also had a boyfriend who lived with her. Her boyfriend was THE MAN FROM DOWNSTAIRS AT THE APARTMENT BUILDING!

The only times we heard him was when they were arguing. That usually happened when they were drinking. Most of the time he was too drunk to do anything much except get into the house.

A lot of people in the neighborhood drank to excess. Several times the man next door was so drunk he could not walk so he would crawl home. More often than not he had also wet his pants.

A man across the street would coax his imaginary dog to follow him home. When he reached the walk leading to his house he began to remove his clothes. After he went inside his wife would come out and quietly gather his clothes and take them inside.

The nice family with 4 little girls moved and my husband and I rented their house. My parents bought the house they were living in.  They converted the house into a one family home.

During all this two of my brothers were drafted into the Army. One went to the DMZ in Korea. The other went to Viet Nam.  Both were in active war zones.

Mom and Daddy had their back yard. There were flowers, a strawberry bed, fresh vegetables, grape vines, and lots of room for an occasional BBQ.

Shall we continue this later? I think so.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Living In The Big City

My husband and I decided to take the older of my siblings and show them around. After all there are a lot of things to see in a city.

There had been a recent snowfall. In rural areas snow sort of lays there or packs down a bit. In the city it becomes slush very quickly.

My husband was driving, I was in the middle of the front seat, and the oldest of my brothers was by the door. My sister and two other brothers were in the back seat.

As we were driving through downtown Detroit my brother had his window open and was trying not to miss anything. Suddenly SPLAT! A car drove by and threw slush up from its tires. My brother took it all in the face and down the front of his clothes.

Of course we all laughed. He was soaked so we cut our excursion short and went home.

My sister began dating a young man that my husband and I knew. It did not last long. She met someone we did not know and disappeared with him.

We searched for her for a long time but there was no trace of her. After a few years she finally wrote to one of my brothers in the Army. She was married and living in California. He gave her my address and she wrote to me.

She wanted to come home but was afraid. I told her to come to my house. I knew my parents wanted her home. The first day she came to my house I took her to see my parents. She decided to stay with them after all.

(By the way the young man she was dating married my brother-in-law's wife's sister. They divorced after having 4 children. By then my husband and I were divorced. My husband married her. Confused? We all are.)

My third brother had a rough time at school. Detroit has a well-earned reputation for being a violent city. Several days a week my brother was chased from school. They would take his shoes off of him to make sure he was not hiding any money. He never had any but that did not stop them.

The oldest two brothers were drafted while we lived in that apartment building.

My parents finally decided to move into a house. That story is next.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Apartment Building

Our apartment building was in the Cass Corridor. Only three blocks away was the Masonic Temple which hosted plays among other events. Next door was the Employment Office. Across the street was a hotel of ill-repute. At the other end of the street was Woodward Avenue which is one of the main thoroughfares of the city.

My husband and I lived on the third floor... no elevator. We had a living room/dining room, bedroom, and bathroom. It was not a bad place to live even though the neighborhood was bad.

My son who was a baby slept in a dresser drawer atop the dresser. That way he was close when he woke up hungry and I was still in bed.

This was where my parents stayed with us when they first arrived. Of course it was crowded.  Besides my husband, baby, and me there were my parents and six brothers and sisters.

My parents rented an apartment on the first floor. It was much larger. So my family moved there. They enrolled the children in school. Daddy looked for work.

In less than a week my father was employed. The kids were in school. It seemed that things were working out well... for the most part.

The apartment directly below my parents was occupied by a strange man. Apparently he had been a merchant seaman at one time. He was loud and rude. One of his ears had been pierced.  During a fight his earring was ripped out leaving his earlobe split and separated.

He had a habit of imagining enemies outside his window. He would scream and curse at them. Then he would throw firecrackers and M-80's at them. This usually happened after he had been drinking.

On his good days he would place his radio in the window and turn it up as high as it would go.

My parents asked him nicely if he could stop with the fireworks and not play the radio quite so loud. He was congenial and agreed to be quieter.

The noise did not stop although he only played the radio loud when he knew my father was at work.

Finally Mom had all she could stand. She had a pan of water boiling on the stove. She took it and leaned out the window. She threw the whole pan of hot water at the radio. BULLSEYE! The radio sputtered and crackled and died. When he got a new radio he kept the sound down.

Next door to our apartment lived a man with his daughter and son. The daughter and my sister became close friends. Over the years they grew apart. However the girl married my husband's younger brother. They now have seven children and a whole bunch of grandchildren.

More next time.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Places To Live

When I first arrived in Detroit my husband and I stayed with his brother and family until we found an apartment on the East side. We lived just a few blocks from the Detroit River.

Our apartment was on the second floor. There was another apartment on the same floor. The first floor was occupied by a young family with several children. The husband was a veteran. The wife was from Germany.

The third floor was not much more than an attic. A strange man lived there. He drank to excess. When he was drinking he would play records of Hitler's speeches. He was sure that would attract the woman from the first floor.

The day he went out into the street and stopped traffic was the day they finally did something about him. Because the traffic was backed up the police came. He was delirious and violent. That was the last time we saw him.

Eventually we moved to another apartment. It was in the Cass Corridor near downtown Detroit.

The Cass Corridor is a bad area. Not the worst but bad.

Across the street from our building was a hotel. That was where the prostitutes took their 'clients'. Sometimes some of us who lived in the apartment building would choose a hooker and see how many men she would entertain in an afternoon. It became a game.

When the riots in 1967 happened that area was dangerous. We happened to be visiting my husband's brother and family that day. A mutual friend came into the house in the evening to watch the news to see what time the curfew started. We all thought he was crazy.

We stayed there for a week until it was safe to go home. In the meantime there was a high-speed car chase down the street as we were standing in front of the house talking to neighbors.

My parents were frantic. They had not yet come to the big city. They had no idea where I was or whether we were safe. They sent a telegram that I did not receive because I was not home. I had no idea that it was national news.

My family was relieved when I called them to let them know that we were all safe.

Later that year was when I took my baby to meet his grandparents. Then they came to the big city.

More next time.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Together In The Big City

My husband and I had been married slightly less than a year. There was very little work in this part of the country. What work there was offered little opportunity to better oneself. After much discussion we decided to try our luck elsewhere.

My husband's older brother had moved to Detroit. He told us that work was plentiful there. Detroit was where we would try.

My husband drove to the big city. I went to stay with my parents until he found work. After he got his first paycheck he would send for me.

After a couple of weeks I was on the bus headed for Michigan. We settled in to live where the work was.  I did not like the way people live on top of each other in the city but we made the best of it.

After another year I had my first baby. I desperately wanted my family to see him. I took time from my job and rode the bus with my little one to visit family.

I had a good time being with everyone again. They fussed over the baby of course. We also spent some time with my husband's family who were also thrilled to meet the newest member of the family.

My father's company had done away with the night shift. He was foreman of that shift. They told him he could go back to the day shift as an hourly employee which was basically a demotion. He decided to try his luck elsewhere. They would drive me home and see what the big city had to offer.

It was a fun trip. Both my parents, my six younger brothers and sisters, and my baby and I left for Detroit.

I was glad to be home and be with my husband. My family took an apartment in the same building we lived in. Daddy looked for work and found it almost right away. Things were looking good.