Tag Archives: Gilchrist Street

Don’t Give Up The Fort ► A Pastoral Letter

One block south of 8 Mile is the intersection of Gilchrist Street and Hessel Avenue

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Dear Pastor Kenny:

Remember the fort we built in the backyard behind my garage on Gilchrist?

I distinctly remember scrounging some of the lumber for it from the excavation ditch that later became the Southfield Freeway. I can’t remember who was with me that day, you or Dean Donaldson, but if it was you, it’s safe to admit it. The statute of limitations on that crime has long expired.

It was a pretty sweet fort, as I remember. With the liberated plywood as a roof and walls, it was water-tight when it rained. We spent a fair amount of time hanging out in there, but I spent more. There were many times I’d sit in the fort reading comic books. It became my refuge away from my sisters. As you may remember, I had 4.

My old backyard showing the room my father added to the
back of the house, taken on August 2, 2016. The first thing I
noticed was that the cherry tree next to the garage was no longer
there. It was beautiful in the spring and you could sit on the
garage in the sunshine and pick cherries all the doo dah day.

Did you ever wonder why we still don’t have that fort to sit within and ponder the world?

I destroyed it in a fit of pique.

My parents were bothered by the mess we left behind and ordered me to clean it up. I walked across the street and tried to get you and Dean to help me. Neither of you could be bothered, so I decided the fort had to go. With tears in my eyes, and filled with childish rage, I ripped it apart within minutes, demonstrating how shoddy we were at fort building and how I can, at times, be my own worst enemy.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

In the last 8 months my life has been on a metaphoric fort busting bender, until I find myself beached here 13 miles from the beach — right back where I started.

Don’t give up the fort.

Just when things seemed at their lowest ebb, I hastily prepared another of my epic Road Trips to visit Pops. Knowing we’d meet again on my swing through Michigan, I had a lot of time to think over what I wanted to ask you during all of that driving. I was telling my friends along the way, most of whom have read my previous Pastoral Letters, that I was going to see you again. Most of them also knew of my troubles of late. I started to make the joke that with all that was going on in my life, I needed to be Pastor-ized.

Your house still looks picture perfect, Ken

I had hoped to meet you in our old neighbourhood, where your house still looks picture perfect. However, time constraints meant we only had a small time together and I was on vacation, for the most part. I didn’t mind traveling to Ann Arbor to meet you.

I wanted to share everything that occurred since the beginning of the year, but we certainly didn’t have time for that, so I shared the highlights lowlights — including the heartbreak I experienced just days earlier in Toronto. I even told you the joke above about needing Pastor-ization. Then I popped the question that had been on my mind since I left Florida. It started as a far more complex question, but during all those miles on the road it became simpler and simpler until I boiled it down to 10 words:

“What is the answer when Jesus is not the answer?”

Your answer was very Zen: Connections.

I am still processing what that means for me. I’ve come to the conclusion that not all connections are real connections. Nor do I really want to be connected to all those who are connected to me. The contradiction is that my writing at the Not Now Silly Newsroom, as well as my oversized presence on the facebookery and Twitterverse is all about making connections to many people I have no real connection with. Heavy, eh?

On my most recent road trip in front of my
former Kensington Market house on Nassau

IRONY ALERT: The person/place I truly wanted an improved and stronger connection with has gone cold and I have no idea how to rekindle it.

Ken, your other suggestion — to get back to Drum Circles — is a good one. Pops’ hospitalization kept me busy since early June, and there was no time. One of my favourite ones is tomorrow. It’s the monthly Drum Circle where I actually composed most of my first Pastoral Letter to you. However, here’s another contradiction: I’m not a joiner.

Speaking of joiners, I have always . . . what’s the correct word — envied? coveted?– someone who has a God to believe in. When life turns to shit, there’s an entity to pray to. Atheists don’t have that. Without those connections of which you speak, I’ve got to tough it out on my own.

The last time I believed in something bigger than myself was, in reality, not all that long ago. It was only last year and I wrote about it in a previous Pastoral Letter which I titled Before and After Synchronicity. Now I’m not sure if what I believed was real. It all seemed so right and this feels so wrong.

I no longer know what to tell the crows.

I hope it’s not another year before we see each other again, Kenny, but I expect it will be. In the meantime, feel free to reply. I told you that I write these more for myself than for getting a reply. However, this time I’d love to read your thoughts.

Your childhood friend,
Marc Slootsky

Pastor Kenny Responds

Pastor Kenny. Pics stolen from his facebookery.

A Response to Your Pastoral Letter (Or How One Pastoral Letter Begets Another, Begets Another, Begets Another)

I’m a FB neophyte, so it took me quite a while to dig out your last pastoral letter once I had a little time to respond to it. I’ve not known how to respond to your pastoral letter because I wasn’t sure if or what might have been expected of me.  Was it an invitation to dialogue? In what forum?  I was just a little befuddled.  SO I figured, heck, I’ll just write something down on word doc and if Headly wants to publish it, so much the better.

I am going with Headly at your request, though I knew you as Marc.  I think we lost regular connection before you became Headly so it was good to hear your story about how the name came [about] and took.  Ken or Kenny works for me. Only my sisters, Marilyn and Nancy call me Kenny, so it reminds me of my past. (The name, btw was ruined by association with Barbie, and if it’s not too insulting to a fine musician, Kenny G. Nobody seems to name their kid Kenneth anymore.  Someone told me in Scottish (?) it means “handsome,” which [may] also account for its unpopularity. Who would want to name their kid “handsome”?  Alas. Mark has fared much better as a name, and the variant Marc (short for “Marcus”?) is a little exotic, given that we’re in the 1950’s Tom-Dick-Harrry-Mary-Deborah genre of Wonder Bread Names to begin in. But I digress.

I must say I have been honored by your interest in my little LGBT soap opera. Spreading the word about Letter to My Congregation, being interested, curious, sympathetic.  But it has also been comforting to reconnect a little bit with my Gilchrist past through your reaching out. 

Pastor Ken Wilson with wife Julia

My wife, Julia, grew up in Holland Michigan, where her dad still lives in the house she grew up in. (Her dad was an English Professor at Hope College.) She can go back to the house and stay overnight, as we have a few times since we got married.  Recently, at her moms memorial service, she met all sorts of people from her growing up years—people who babysat for her and for whom she babysat, teachers from high school, old friends.  It helped me realize how the decline of a city like Detroit can disconnect you from your past. 

Going back to the old neighborhood recently was stunning—urban blight such as I’d never seen just a few blocks South of where we grew up. Such an empty feeling. And no one from the old neighborhood to share it with. So reading your posts—especially your history of the Detroit riots—triggered all sorts of memories for me. Thank you.

One of the things I’d forgotten was just how racist things were growing up. You reminded me what it was like to grow up Jewish—and it all came rushing back, the horrible jokes about Jews, and Blacks, and Poles, and well, non WASPS. I remember being warned by someone not to attend a Catholic Mass because they spoke Latin and you didn’t know whether they were saying bad stuff or not.

It made me feel ashamed. Using the N-word was strictly forbidden in my family. Same with anti-Jewish rhetoric. But talk of “Injuns,” “Krauts” and “Japs” was tolerated. Now I’m ashamed. But I was also ashamed because of my forgetting. Forgetting how bad the Christian participation in anti-Semitism was in that era. Remembering how my late wife Nancy and I came to visit you in Toronto talking all our Jesus talk without remembering how your ears would have heard Jesus talk, having been called, as was common in that time, “Christ killer.” I can’t imagine what it would be like to associate the Jesus that I’m so ga-ga over with that kind of treatment from people who claim to be part of the religion he started. I have to admit, it’s a pretty reasonable thing to judge a religious figure by the behavior of the religion that he founded. So I can’t blame you for not picking up what Nancy and I were laying down in that trip to Toronto. 

Pastor Kenny’s very important
book, which got him thrown out of
the church he founded 45 years ago

By the way, it was fun to talk about that Toronto trip and to hear you say that you found it kind of interesting despite the fact that the God talk went on a little too much for your tastes. New converts to anything are a trip and I imagine I was one too. You should hear me talk to my friends who show any interest in my Fitbit. I get enthusiastic about things and want the whole world to adopt them. (Say Headly, have you tried the Fitbit? It’s amazing how it helps you be more active—I walk so much more now that I have one of these little wonders.)  But I digress again. I think you bring the elementary school of me, the Kenny locked up in Pastor Ken. 

I do know that there’s a connection between the mistreatment of the LGBT community and the Jewish community. In much the same way that anti-Semitism was tolerated in the Church for millennia—based on a handful of biblical texts taken out of historical context—a handful of texts taken out of historical context have propped up teachings that are harmful to vulnerable sexual minorities. The Second Vatican Counsel—which took place while we were growing up in Detroit—signaled an important reversal on this. Now there’s virtually no respectable Christian tradition in which it is OK to refer to Jewish people as “Christ-killers.”  Maybe the same reversal is underway today when it comes to sexual minorities. I certainly hope so.

And drum circles. I found it fascinating that you’ve gotten into them.  I’ve always thought they would be a blast.  I walk through the Diag sometimes and there’s a drum circle happening. They don’t seem to be looking for people to join them, but I’d like to. I always think of you now when I see them.  The feeling of connection with other people that happens with a drum circle has got to be pleasurable. You could do a lot worse for a communal spiritual practice than a drum circle. He said, approvingly.

OK now I have to figure out how send you this word doc via FB. Oh crap, is that even possible? 

Grace and peace to you, fellow pilgrim and pastoral letter writer.

Editor’s note: Kenneth John Wilson is my oldest friend in the world. We grew up together on Gilchrist Street in Detroit, catercorner from each other. We lost track of each other in the early ’70s.


Last year I was made aware that Pastor Kenny is shaking the foundations of organized Christianity with his book A Letter to my Congregation, which argues for full inclusion of the LGBT communities in all congregations. We have since reconnected to my extreme happiness.

There has been some slight editing of this Pastoral Letter for clarity and spelling.

Finding An Old Friend ► Unpacking My Detroit

 

EMAIL TO: Pastor Kenny
SUBJECT: Long Time No See
Dear Pastor Kenny:
Lately my life is in turmoil. I am in need of something pastoral. Tag. You’re it.
I think back to the last time I saw you. If I’m not mistaken you were on your honeymoon with Nancy.
You visited me in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and, from my point of view, it was a very strange visit. Now that I think about it, it was the very last time I saw any of my childhood friends.
[I understand that Nancy has passed and that you’re remarried. Condolences and congratulations. I’m a sucker for love and it sounds like you have had decades of it.]
It was a strange visit for me because during much of your visit you and Nancy were trying to sell me on Jesus, despite knowing I grew up in a Jewish home and had even thrown off that religion years before. I had never known you to be evangelical before.
We had an amicable discussion, but neither of us convinced the other. When you left, you left behind (no pun intended) a Good News Bible, which you inscribed to me. I carried that Bible – along with a pilfered Gideon’s Bible, an Old Testament, and a book on Scientology – with me until about a decade ago, when I lost my small religious book section in my last break up.
Before the internet made biblical text searches much easier, I would refer to that Good News Bible occasionally for research, or just to rifle through it and read passages. Each time I couldn’t help but think of you and wondered what happened to you. I’ve thought of you often over the years and not always when reaching for that book. Just this summer, when I last visited family in Michigan, I went to Gilchrist. However, after taking a picture of my old house, I stood
and stared at yours for a while.
Outtake from While Detroit Crumbled, Gilchrist
Street Hung On
. That’s Kenny Wilson’s house on
the far right, across the street, with Danny Harris
of the Gilchrist Block Club in the foreground.
This visit prompted me to write While Detroit Crumbled, Gilchrist Street Hung On.
I visit Gilchrist often because I’m still looking for something there. Me, I think.
As mentioned above, I have found my life to be chaotic as of
late. Pops is 88 and, after my mother died, I moved from Canada, where I lived for 35 years – taking out citizenship in the process – to take care of him. I’ve been in Sunrise, Florida, for the past 9 years. Some days are harder than others and on Friday I expressed my opinion to Pops at full volume.
Skip ahead to Sunday morning. I was still feeling remorseful that I lost my temper with Pops when I got an IM on Facebook from a name I didn’t recognize. She said she had lived on Fenmore. After exchanging a few messages it turns out I didn’t know her or her brother Randy at all. But then she asked me if I knew you.
I said “yes” and that you were one of my best friends growing up, and that I had been looking for you for years with no luck. Do you know how many Kenneth John Wilsons there are in this world? The internet was no help.
She told me you were a pastor in Ann Arbor, which I did not find surprising, considering our last encounter. However, what she told me next surprised me a great deal. She told me that you were the first person in Michigan to wed a same sex couple. I thought, “WAY TO GO, KENNY!!!” I am a long time supporter of the LGBT communities, believing they should have the right to marry in every state. Sadly I read today that all the Michigan marriages that happened in the interregnum are null and void. How sad for those people. How sad for love.
This book seems like a game-changer for evangelicals.
The internet was an immediate help in finding Pastor Kenneth Wilson, but I’ve still not confirmed you were the first to marry a same sex couple, or that you have actually wed any same sex couples. No matter. I have since read about your book ‘Letter to My Congregation’ and several interviews with you. It’s a brave stance.WAY TO GO, KENNY!!!
I have a hard time squaring that with the evangelicals I am always reading about. I know the squeaky wheel gets the ink, but I keep reading of evangelical hate for various factions of folk in this world, whether it’s The Gay, or the poor, or people of colour, or immigrants both documented and un. While the religion preaches love, there’s a whole lot of hate expressed quite openly. One shudders to think of what might be said in private.
Right after having this Facebook conversation I left for a drum circle. This is a new hobby/habit I’ve developed in the past year. It turns out that I still have no rhythm in my left hand, something I should have remembered when I tried to play guitar as a teenager. That’s why I was the singer in the band that Dean Donaldson drummed in; I couldn’t play an instrument. After 2 attempts at a drum circle I remembered that my left hand will simply not fire when I want it to. It’s pretty useless. However, I managed to find my niche within these drum circles by playing claves, which only needs one coordinated hand, while the other is passive.
What does this have to do with anything? Almost nothing, except this particular drum circle meets in Snyder Park, an oasis in the middle of a heavily industrial area of Fort Lauderdale. You would hardly know you were in the middle of a city. While in the park I took a panorama which I sent to my Facebookery with the caption “How pastoral.”
As I played the claves, and zoned out into the rhythm, I suddenly realized why the word “pastoral” came so readily to mind. By the time the drum circle had ended, I had already written parts of this email in my head.
So, what’s new with you?
Your childhood friend,
Marc Slootsky
P.S. I’m a writer and it looks like you are too. I’m planning on printing this email at the Not Now Silly Newsroom. Unless you expressly forbid otherwise, I plan to share your response, if there is one.

===============================
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While Detroit Crumbled, Gilchrist Street Hung On

The little house I used to live in.
Pops bought it for around $3,000 in 1957.

I left Detroit in 1971, but my parents stayed in the little house I used to live in for the next several years. I returned to Gilchrist Street frequently for visits until my parents moved 2 miles north, out of the city, into Oak Park.

Despite my parents having moved, I continued to return, year after year, decade after decade, from one millennia into the next. It seems almost a lifetime ago because it was. I rarely visited Motown without dropping in on the old neighbourhood. Gilchrist was my talisman. I was looking for truths that remained hidden, especially from me. So, I kept returning, reaching for something just beyond my vision; just past my memory. I was looking for something I never found.

This provides me with an overview to chart the devolution of a neighbourhood in a way that most can’t. I watched my old neighbourhood become infected with the disease that destroyed so much of Detroit, ‘Merka’s first throwaway city. It’s no accident I have been calling Detroit ‘Merka’s first throwaway city for almost 2 years. It was a case of “Out of sight, out of mind.” Until Detroit’s bankruptcy was announced — and an Emergency Manager appointed to oversee the democratically elected city government — most people had forgotten Detroit even existed.

Just one of hundreds of houses like this in my old neighbourhood

I can still recall my first memory of what would come to be called Urban Blight in later years. It was a large, mixed-use, yellow-bricked building on the surface/ service drive, viewed from the John C. Lodge Ditch. There would have once been apartments on the upper stories with storefronts at street level. I was 14 or 15 when it was boarded up. It remained boarded up for more than 30 years that I recall. Then the Lodge fell into disuse as the highway used to get in and out of downtown from the ‘burbs, so I don’t know what happened to it in the last 2 decades. For all I know it’s still there. Or, it may be gone by now, just another building missing from Motown’s landscape. But for me this building was far more iconic of Detroit’s road to ruin than the Michigan Central Station, which I had only seen in pictures.

White Flight, Urban blight, and Demolition by Neglect — in that order — are the major forces which have helped to destroy Detroit, the once proud Arsenal of Democracy. People tend to peg the fall and decline of Detroit with the 1967 Riot. However, they are shocked to discover it began almost immediately after Germany and Japan surrendered at the end of WWII.

Racial strife was so common in Detroit in the ’40s that propaganda
posters were made to warn people not to give comfort to the enemy.

There had already been several warnings. As I have written in The Detroit Riots, the 1863 Riot set the stage for most of what came after. That was a White Riot determined to eradicate Black folk from Detroit. In 1863 Detroit was such a new city, it didn’t have a police force yet. The rebellion had to be put down by the army. When the Detroit Police Department was formed soon after, it was tasked — IN THE INCORPORATING DOCUMENTS!!! — with keeping Blacks in line. And, Detroit Police took that oath seriously, right into the 1970s.

However, the warnings that should have been headed were those in the 1940s that indicated the races in Detroit were never going to get along. As Black and White soldiers were fighting Fascism overseas, those who remained on the home front fought each other. During the war Black and White southerners migrated to Detroit to take up jobs in the defense industry. Racial problems began almost immediately. As I wrote 2 years ago in The Detroit Riots:

When the Feds announced a housing projects [sic] for Detroit, on the edge of a traditional White neighbourhood, the local community assumed it was for their own kind. When it was named the Sojourner Truth housing project, Whites protested. The government reversed its decision and decided this would be for Whites and it would find another location for a Black housing project, even tho’ it would retain the Truth name. Then Detroit Mayor Edward Jeffries, Jr. got involved and the Feds reversed their decision again: This housing would be for the Black people of Detroit who desperately needed housing. On moving day Whites protested, turning away the first families. It was months before people would eventually move in.

That was just the appetizer. Less than a year later there was a wildcat strike at the Packard Motor Plant after the company promoted 3 Black men to work the line. According to the WikiWackyWoo:

In early June 1943, three weeks before the riot, Packard Motor Car Company promoted three blacks to work next to whites in the assembly lines. This promotion caused 25,000 whites to walk off the job, effectively slowing down the critical war production. It was clear that whites didn’t mind that blacks worked in the same plant but refused to work side-by-side with them. During the protest, a voice with a Southern accent shouted in the loudspeaker, “I’d rather see Hitler and Hirohito win than work next to a Nigger.”[7]

Then came the 1943 Detroit Riot. That was really the beginning of the end. White Flight began the minute it could. It started when peace was declared, increased as prosperity reigned, and became a wave when vast subdivisions were thrown up north of 8 Mile, outside the city limits. White Flight only became a tsunami after the 1967 Riot.

Two houses on Biltmore Street a few doors down from The Millers

Today Detroit’s population of 700,000 is a fraction of its 1950 peak of 1.8 million. Entrepreneurs are buying up whole swaths of Detroit for wholesale gentrification. Tens of thousands (!) of abandoned structures are slated for demolition by new blight removal programs. Urban farms are being planted where houses, parks and schools once stood. Detroit is being transformed and what it will become is anybody’s guess at the moment

Returning frequently, I watched the urban blight grow over the decades. It was as pernicious as the mold and mildew that attacks houses in the south. It kept nibbling around the edges, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, until it reached my old neighbourhood just on the northern edge of Detroit, immediately south of the famed 8 Mile Road. Then I watched as it infected block after block of the square mile I lived in bounded by 8 Mile and 7 Mile Roads, with Greenfield and Southfield to the east and west. Now, in that square mile are hundreds of homes boarded up, burned up, or missing entirely.

Danny Harris. of the Gilchrist Block Club, cutting the grass

As the years took its toll on Detroit, something unexpected happened to Gilchrist, the street I grew up on: NOTHING!!!

While every surrounding block had anywhere from 3-10 destroyed homes per block, Gilchrist — from Pembroke Avenue to 8 Mile Road — still appeared to be in pristine condition. While I watched blight strike everywhere else in my old neighbourhood, somehow this half mile stretch of Gilchrist was spared.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Obviously I didn’t drive up and down every street in Detroit on my 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research, but I must have driven some
20-30 miles just up and down the streets in my old neighbourhood. I saw no other half mile stretch that appeared to be untouched
by blight except this 1/2 mile stretch of Gilchrist. There were small stretches of nice, but not a full half
mile of it.

TO BE FAIR: On closer inspection there are a few boarded up houses along Gilchrist, but because the lawns are kept neat and tidy, they don’t jump out at you the way they do on the other blocks. And, there are far fewer of them on Gilchrist.

While taking pictures of my old house I ran into Danny Harris two doors down. Mr. Harris is a member of the registered non-profit Gilchrist Block Club, a kind of “Keep Gilchrist Beautiful” community group in operation since 1984. Harris was cutting the grass of the house at the corner of Hessel. While he lived closer to Pembroke, Mr. Harris walked his lawnmower 3 blocks to take care of this patch of grass. Perhaps this community volunteerism is what spared Gilchrist from the same fate that’s affected all the other surrounding blocks.

Retired Detroit police officer Robert Miller on Biltmore Street

Biltmore, one street to the east, has no block club. Just around the corner from where Harris cut the grass live Robert and Kim Miller. The Millers bought their home 28 years ago and watched the block slowly crumble around them. The two houses pictured above are just a few doors down from the Millers, whose front yard is a testament to how a little landscaping and care can make all the difference.

Robert is a retired Detroit Police officer who paid for his home about what Pops got for his when he moved to the suburbs. At the time the neighbourhood was solidly middle class, but changing demographics rapidly as the first blocks in this neighbourhood were “busted” in the mid-to-late ’70s. That’s when White Flight would have begun in the area, accelerating over the years.

Now, on paper, Robert Miller’s house on Biltmore is worth the same $30,000 that he paid for it. However, he can’t even get offers on a house in a neighbourhood where hundreds of homes are abandoned and crumbling. He and his wife have their eye on a gated-condo complex in Novi, Michigan, with amenities, where they will be moving within the next 6 months. They’ll leave the house to their daughter, hoping that eventually the neighbourhood will stage a comeback. It can hardly get worse.

However, no comeback for Gilchrist Street because Gilchrist never left. I’ve watched this street for the past 40 years. It hasn’t changed. It hasn’t become blighted. It hasn’t suffered the same fate as miles and miles of Motown housing tracts. Gilchrist may offer clues to Detroit’s revival, provided the city’s not gentrified beyond recognition.

Yet visiting my old neighbourhood never fails to make me cry. This time it was my Junior High School that got to me and began the waterworks. Last year Coffey Junior High School was still in operation. Now it’s one of many schools closed as Detroit’s population, and tax base, can no longer support so many schools. However, the scrappers have already started to strip it of anything and everything of value.

This is why, for me, Detroit represents the total failure of ‘Merkins to live up to the lofty words about equality inscribed in the founding documents. Everything that subsequently happened to Detroit happened because of systemic Racism and White Flight. Your mileage may vary, but I contend that if people learned to live together decades ago, Detroit would not have become ”Merka’s first throwaway city.

 

Unpacking the Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research

Panorama of the 8 Mile Wall, behind the houses on Birwood in Dcetroit, Michigan

The 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research was full of surprises. Surprises are the delight of a loosely planned 3,000 mile drive. All told I figure I drove some 65 hours, with a week in the Canton Township, Michigan, area in the middle. Sunrise to Canton Township alone is about 24 hours of straight driving. Most of my various hosts gave me a driving tour of their town, with me driving, adding another 12 hours to the overall trip.

What I learned on this trip, but really should have learned last year: There is no adequate and reliable way to update Not Now Silly from my Windows Phone. Next year I’m going to make sure I have a laptop, making updates much easier. As it is I only managed to post a three “A Note From The Road” posts. Either I had trouble with connectivity or I was surrounded by people, which wasn’t conducive to spending time posting. Here are the very few I managed to post:

A Note From The Road #1
A Note From The Road #2
A Note From The Road #3

A former nightclub in Steubenville, Ohio, once owned by The Mob.
Dean Martin had no choice but to perform here early in his career.

Aside from all my research in Canton Township, Michigan, I have enough other material to power several future Not Now Silly posts. These include, but are not limited to, the 8 Mile Wall; Morgantown‘s favourite son, Don Knotts; Ruin Porn, Gilchrist Street, and Coffee Jr. High School; Medical Marijuana in Michigan; highway driving in ‘Merka; and other sundry writings as I get to them.

Driving 3,000+ miles in ‘Merka is always an interesting and eye-opening experience. One thing I learned last year, but which was reinforced this year, is that every family has family drama. I heard of several this year, all unprompted, just like last year.

I took more than 1,200 pictures on the 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research and not all of them in Canton Township, Michigan. I have already posted several photo albums on my facebookery:

The saddest part of the 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research was to see my old neighbourhood. Every year when I visit I notice the Detroit blight has grown since the previous year. In recent years it has crept into my old neighbourhood, nibbling around the edges. Now it has infected dozens and dozens of houses in just the square mile bounded by 7 Mile, 8 Mile and Greenfield and Southfield on the east and west. This includes Coffey Jr. High School, where I went along with all my sibs. Coffey has been closed and the scrappers have already trashed the building.

I joined the rank of scrappers when I stole a number of architectural glass blocks and distributed them among my sisters as mementos of their youth. My experiences in my old neighbourhood will be a Not Now Silly Newsroom Investigative Report. Coming soon.

BONUS: I left Sunrise with 2 books: the one I was reading and the one I would read next. I returned with 13 more than I left with because so many people gave me books on my travels. My friends really have me pegged and know what I like.

Finally, I would like to thank all my hosts.The joy of these road trips is being able to meet friends and readers along the road. Without these stops, it would be a long and boring drive. Without these stops I wouldn’t see towns and cities I normally would drive right past. Without these stops I wouldn’t get personally guided tours. A huge thanks to each and every one of you. I hope to see you on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research, already in the planning stages.

Here’s the latest look at the little house I used to live in:

Here’s the latest listen to The Little House I Used To Live In: