The day we thought my cousin Miss Boots was missing I drove over to my old west side neighborhood to see if she was OK.
I wanted to cry. Miss Boots was doing well. The old neighborhood was not. It keeps getting worse and worse and for some reason it really hit me how terrible it looked. Vancouver Street was never a ritzy neighborhood but it was a well kept, middle class neighborhood where factory workers, the number runners, drug man and machinists seemed to make it work.
We had a party store, cleaners and church two blocks down. Four blocks of factories churned out auto parts and it was exciting to see trains bring in fresh supplies four blocks away. And you never stepped on any body’s lawn without permission. They were well maintained and looked like tiny patches of Comerica Park.
We were Heather Nebazny.
When I made the left turn toward Vancouver the party store, cleaners and church were burned out wrecks from the riots in 1967. There was garbage all over the place. I drove the car slowly to avoid debris. Ahead about a third of the houses were abandoned or rotting. My neighborhood looked like something from “Escape from New York.”
I really thought I was going to run into Snake Plissken and the Duke.
This is not the only neighborhood crumbling. I sometimes visit friends and they have nice plots in the middle of crumbling neighborhoods. I am smiling and having a good time and at the same time thinking “wtf.” One of my friends packed her things up and just left her house. It was the only one standing in a two block area.
I do not listen to people who say Detroit is back. There are nice places to go downtown. Midtown and Fox town and other areas have made rivivals. It is great to see. I am glad that billionaires are investing downtown. However, the people who say thumbs up to Detroit never go to the neighborhoods. They’ve been abandoned, abused and neglected.
It makes you want to cry.