Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Detroit Neighborhood -- Back In The Day (Originally Written in 2010)

Detroit Neighborhoods--Back In The Day
Boundary of Woodward/John R - 7 Mile/State Fair

My father lived at 492 Fernhill as a boy in the 1920s; I lived with him and my mom at 456 Fernhill as a child in the 1940s.

When I googled the neighborhood and rode the cyberspace arrow up and down the streets, I could not believe the destruction and neglect. At least half the houses on Fernhill are gone.

When I saw the empty lot where my house used to be, it broke my heart. How crazy is that! It was more than 60 years ago! My dad's house still standing was a wonderful surprise. In my mind's eye, I can see the street and the people as they were so long ago. I don't know why I care. Maybe it has something to do with being a writer.

On the North side of the street, it appears the house once owned by the Maynards, the Etheringtons, and the Hopps family (492) remain.

On the South side, across from where 456 used to be, the house owned by the Luscitch family in the 1940s is also still standing.

Time has not been kind to this little community but it was a wonderful and safe place to grow up in the 1940s.

From Fernhill we walked to the corner of Havannah, turned right one block, and there was our beautiful school, Grayling Elementary. What has happened to this school? The building remains but it is not listed as a Detroit elementary school.

From 456, my friends and I would walk two blocks to Beauman, turn left and pass a little convenience store on the right filled with penny candy or continue a few more short side blocks up to 7 Mile to Brown's Creamery, where my Grandma Hopps, the store manager, would give us delicious double-dip chocolate cones for TWELVE CENTS!

In the summer, my friends and I would walk the 2-1/2 blocks over to State Fair and spend the entire day at the Fairgrounds!

I remember the fire there in 1942. I was four and sat on my dad's shoulders as he and half the neighbors walked over to watch the horror and listen to the screaming horses.

We did not have a car then and my dad rode the bus to and from work. Sometimes I would walk to the other end of Fernhill, to Charleston, (remember when they built that manufacturing plant there?), turn left two short blocks and meet him at the top of the stone steps he walked up when he got off the bus by the viaduct at State Fair.

Or we could walk up Charleston to 7 Mile and turn left a block or two and be at Trinity Reformed Church, where my dad went to church as a boy and my grandma still attended in the 1940s.

Our next door neighbors, the Hoffmans, attended Epiphany Lutheran Church located across the street a little ways from the creamery. It was such a beautiful church, I wished I was Lutheran so I could go there. It is now known as Oasis of Hope Christian Church.

If you have memories or pictures you are willing to share of those "grand old days", please contact

Dawn Hopps Coyle Bohannon
AKA Sarah Barnes

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