Today’s The Day…
22 years ago this month, I remember watching Larry Herndon catch the final out in the World Series, wishing so badly I could be there. It broke my heart to think the celebration would go on without me — but at that time in my life, as a 15-year-old from the suburbs, my parents forbid me to go to Detroit. At all. Period.
Let me repeat that: I was not allowed to go into the City of Detroit.
My, how things have changed.
Those days were not Detroit’s best. Growing up in Grosse Pointe, there was a very strong, unspoken prevailing attitude: blacks were not our friends. In fact, I don’t think I knew ANYONE that didn’t look like me until I went off to Michigan State. There was a tree-lined not-so-mythical border at Jefferson and Alter Roads, and the concept was that you stayed on your side, and ‘they’ stayed on theirs. I don’t remember direct, outward racism (although I fully experienced it years later, and will post about it sometime soon).
I always felt differently about it all. I wanted to go; I wanted to see what was in the City – good and bad. Terrified as I was, I wanted to understand things that were not made available to me. Remember, this was long before we had such mass media available to us. You had three sources: print, radio and TV. And as a 15-year-old more into hockey and girls, I was not up on the socioeconomic and sociopolitical situations, as they were. Not to mention that GP was not exactly a melting pot of diversity, and especially on the ideological front. Differences were mocked, and rarely tolerated. A caste-like system existed, and I would argue, still exists in some ways there, although the the Pointes are not what they used to be, thank goodness.
Today, I live in Detroit. Right downtown, as a matter of fact. I still get old friends that are somewhat stunned by this fact, but there’s no doubt that the wide-eyed expressions have thinned out over the 6 years we’ve lived here. Downtown is making a slow and deliberate turnaround, and it’s evident that people are starting to get it — thankfully, the suburbanites are starting to get it, too. The people I’ve known that stated ‘I’ll never go below 8 Mile’ (I’m not kidding) are not starting to come to the city for dinner and drinks.
And so, this curious 15-year-old that watched in both amazement and sadness when the city last celebrated a World Series is now, 22 years later, firmly implanted within the framework of the city he has always loved. Living just 2 blocks from Comerica Park, right on Woodward, has been simply wonderful this entire summer, with cars lined up as far as the eyes can see to watch our Boys play baseball- every night!
And so, I leave you with this moment, burned indelibly in my mind: as I walked home, up Woodward to my home after Game 4 of the ALCS, with 43,000 of my best friends in tow, there was my 5-year-old daughter – head out the window, waving her Tiger Towel and screaming ‘Go Tigers!’
The circle was broken, and what I had wanted to accomplish by moving to the city and raising a family here had – in one magical night – been fully realized. Those stereotypes, attitudes and concepts have been wiped off the family map, to the extent they were there in the first place. But by immersing her in the world as it IS – the good, the bad, the ugly – she sees the good in everything, even when it’s hidden beneath the surface.
Enjoy the Series, folks. Enjoy every minute of these events, these moments when we’re all One. Be here – be in the City. Take part. Shake hands, meet strangers. Share a kind word, a smile. Events like these help bond us all. To throw away an opportunity to expand your world is criminal. To not help expand the world of those around you is worse.
(btw, Tigers in 6)