Monday, July 14, 2014

Detroit, Michigan

This city is about eighty miles from where we are presently parked and it seemed a bit nuts to travel that distance for one day.  However, I was adamant that we visit the motor city mainly for the fact that for several years of my youth I had lived there, and I also just felt that it was a major city which we should not pass up in our travels.  After seeing it we could also claim that not only had we looked across the Rio Grand River in Texas, but also had looked across the Detroit River and had seen Canada.  On the other hand, we have been reading The Detroit News and were quite aware that the city is bankrupt and, according to that paper, Detroit has more people living under the poverty line- 42 per cent than any major city in America.  How safe were we traveling into that city?  Well, details like that never stopped John and I before, why now?  We headed out for the city Saturday.  The highway we were traveling on into the city was having road repairs  so, whether we liked it or not, we ended up driving through the city.  We drove by many closed shops and abandoned buildings.  Our first stop of the day was the church and school where my Dad taught.
St.John Lutheran church is to the left of the school in the picture above.  The school closed five years ago, and now Head Start is using the building, which also houses a food pantry for the neighborhood.  We were most fortunate that Willie Marie Henry, who lives nearby and probably keeps a very close eye on the church, came over to greet us as we drove up.  When we told her what my connection was with the church she offered to open it up for us and give us a tour.  What a flood of memories came over me when I saw the altar where I was confirmed in my faith, the organ which my father had played, and also the classrooms where I had attended school!  True, it all could use a coat of paint, but the grounds outside have been lovingly cared for.  Around the flagpole a Girl Scout troop, who also uses the building, had planted flowers.After seeing our old home on Ohio street we then drove toward downtown Detroit.
 We parked our car near the Campus Maritus Park, the classic downtown square where the historic streets of Woodward and Michigan converge.   During the winter it is the home of the city's Christmas tree.  The bright orange you see in the picture above are umbrella- covered tables, which presently offers the summer holiday feeling of a day at the beach.  There is also a boardwalk through the park by which are located piles of sand.  We enjoyed our walk around the vibrant downtown area, many people were out and enjoying the warm summer day.  On our walk toward the waterfront we saw a large sculpture entitled " Transcending" .
The sign near the sculpture notes that it is "Labor's Legacy", a gift to Detroit honoring those who build and serve the city.  It brought to my mind how Detroit is all about car manufacturing and the labor unions which played a big part of that industry.  General Motors has its headquarters in Detroit, it is the tall round building  in the picture below.  There will be more on the city and the Detroit Riverwalk in my next posting.

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