Saturday, July 2, 2011



Before I talk about the young lady who gave me her number at the fireworks at Memorial Park, with live performance by two bands whose best and brightest days were long behind them, I want to tell you about a shadow that was lifted by from my psyche.  Reading the blog of ‘The Sarcastic Bastard’, a link was put up to a story that had a lot of significance to my soul.  Along with being the place that doesn’t get the credit it deserves when tracing the fall of the post-Vietnam Democratic Party (see:  Reagan Democrats), there was something else going on in the northern suburbs of Detroit that would dovetail with one of the bands at the fireworks.

In the late 70’s, just before I stopped skating and began to box, I would go to the rinks between Waterford and Warren, playing pee-wee hockey, the stench of fear was in the crisp, fall air. 

Someone was stalking and killing children in Oakland County.

For most of my peers in the city, and many of the adults, too, the kidnappings were seen as a ‘white problem’, as the flight from Detroit that began in the 50’s was nearing its completion. But for my Mother, she was uneasy many a weekend.  My wanderings did not begin when I decided to join Mookie Dee in her hometown (and they certainly have not ended here in Omaha).  As a young boy I easily could have seen myself sailing with de Gama, Magellan, or any of the great seamen who sailed out of Europe (minus all spreading of the disease and stealing of the resources and those things there) discovering new lands and having great adventures.  Often these wandering would lead me into the OC and Macomb Counties, the neighborhoods I grew up in, 48235 and 48219, were just across 8 Mile Road and often my exploring or battles would take me deep across the barrier, and into the ‘forbidden zone’.

That is what I pretended I was doing when riding my bike (a.k.a my trusty steed!) in the northern ‘burbs, moving out past the inner ring towns of Ferndale, Southfield and Warren, and out to the bucolic and moneyed places like Franklin Hills, and remember Rochester as ‘the sticks’.  I’d go deep inside of them, up and down the side streets, places that a pre-adolescent black boy from Detroit KNEW he did not belong. 

I remember when one of the children went missing and I had spent a Saturday meandering for nearly twelve hours… starting at 9 a.m. and ending late into the evening… and I mean LATE.  The reason I know it was after one of the abductions was because of my Mom’s reaction. 

She was in near hysterics.  It was one of the few times that I realized how much more powerful she was than me, even with my playing defense on my pee-wee team and being one of the stronger boys… and that is where the em-PHASIS should be placed, because I was overmatched by Moms (prolly why it would take my return from the service for me to realize I was bigger AND stronger than she was!!).  I was just a strong boy and this particular physical thrashing was to show how overmatched I would be for even an adult female, let alone a male with evil intent.  I got it after that and from that moment on I would point for home before I needed to ‘point for home’ (this would evolve to my ‘midnight cutoff’ when at the club, to avoid the one a.m. crush at last call looking for a ‘bunk buddy’ from the club, among other person survival protocols). 

Having survived that and realizing that it could have been me, when the Atlanta Child Murders took place and made it believable that little black boys could go missing, would add to the underlying feeling to all my whiny bleating, that I am a lucky cat.  Sure, it would be lucky to have been born into wealth, or failing that, for Mom to have won a bundle on the trotters or pony’s (we were never ‘hurting’ but to get $10k in a fell swoop would have felt like millions), but there are all kinds of luck that I did not fall into.

The luck not to be in the target demographic when I could have easily be snatched off my Schwinn or living in Detroit when to have been that same wandering child could have resulted in darkness, is one of the things that I have been grateful for.  It has never been lost on me that things, for real and not for play, could have been much, much worse in my life.  I had a single Mom who was MY Mom and when it comes to my Dad, I am sure that long time readers know how strong our bond is.  Even now, if this is ‘the hood’ where I lived, it could be worse… I mean, I used to walk through the Jefferies Project and hey, can I get some help in describing the bomb-out village that was the Herman Gardens?  Not to mention that in visiting my Dad, I would walk through Brightmoor…

…but when it came to the Oakland County Child Murders, they were like the verifying element to all the ‘boogeyman’ tales that existed.  At that time, children simply disappearing with out leaving any kind of trail at the time unheard of, even for kids on the margins.  When these children went missing, children from ‘safe and stable homes’, who were missed almost instantly, it had to be ‘the terror’ for parents in the cities north of Detroit, municipalities where I would wander through alone.

So again I am glad that I blog, if for no other reason, because it has allowed me to put to bed a true boogeyman, who was monstrous and inhabited many a child’s nightmare.  And this is not just talk… the sleep that I had the night after reading about the murder’s death was some of the best sleep OF MY ADULT LIFE.  I woke up the next morning truly feeling lighter. 

I cannot thank the Sarcastic Bastard enough for her post. 

Will resume with observations about the fireworks… hope y’all are enjoying your weekends and GET OUTSIDE AND OFF THE COMPUTER!!


Tawnya said...

Being a mom and having been a kid near and around Ft. Lauderdale, I never understood as a kid how that messed with a parents mind. Remembering Adam Walsh. As a mom, it was something that I was constantly on guard for. I had heard about these killings as I live in the OC. And honestly it bothered me that this person has been free that long... Glad for the actual final outcome though

mrs. miss alaineus said...

i remember the aftermath of the oakland county child murders and being afraid to let go of my grandma in public.

be well!


That corgi :) said...

wow, I had never heard of these killings; I read the two blog entries of Sarcastic Bastard, amazing that the suspected killer never got locked away from any of his other wrong doings; definitely lots of red flags there. I can only imagine the fear of parents when this was going on. I can also see why your mom would have reacted like she did when you finally made it home. Those were the days before cell phones and "easier" access to finding out where kids where. I can imagine her pacing around, wondering where the heck you were, thinking the worst, going to the window, looking, looking at the clock, etc. thanks for sharing this with us, Mark. I feel for the victims and their families.

on another note, I hope it is a safe Fourth for you!


Daniel said...

I think you have written about those murders before, I can recall me checking up on that story. Truly horrible. I can so understand why your mother went hysterical.
Having something (nasty) happen to your kids, that's every sane parents nightmare.

I once played a very cruel prank on my mother in which I pretended to be lost/drowned at the beach. OMG what was wrong with my brain that day?? I'm still ashamed, and as adult a million years later I have deeply apologized for my stupidity.


FrankandMary said...

I'd be outside & off the computer if it wasn't raining...I'd had boating plans...

I had the type of neighbors who would hear about anything that happened to a child and say:WHERE WERE THE PARENTS!!?

Please. Parents are all terrified & on hyper-focus watch for something like that.

I remember the Canada Ken & Barbie murderers. The woman Karla said: Oh, they were begging me to let them live.... now that is a great thing for a parent to hear.

Jonthy, Alice the uppity white cat's babysitter said...

Mark, My computer has been in the shop for a few days so I'm just now checking in. Yes, child kidnapping and murder messes with all parents' minds. There are some real monsters out there.

Toon said...

Those kind of predators leave an imprint on all children -- not just the victims. My memories of childhood are tainted by BTK. I'm glad that bastard is dead.

Have Myelin? said...

Hi Mark, I faintly remember hearing about these murders but I do remember the Atlanta murders. All these kids...vanished!

I am also astonished at the murders on Long Beach Island... reportedly the work of potentally two serial killers. TWO? Really? Ugh...