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
that would dovetail with one of the bands at the fireworks. Detroit
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
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 Detroit ). 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’. Omaha
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 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 ‘ cutoff’ when at the club, to avoid the 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
? Not to mention that in visiting my Dad, I would walk through Brightmoor… Herman Gardens
…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!!