In her own words: A poem by Hazel B. Thompson

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THIS WAS THE BIG CITY, DETROIT, AND OUR HOUSE

Dad said, “Here is our house”

There it stood, a terrace,

Pressed in between the others.

No lawn, no flowers, not even a blade of grass.

No front yard, no back yard,

Just a cedar-block street, bricks and cement.

A narrow porch was squashed

Between the sidewalk and the house.

Detroit Residential Street 1920

Detroit Residential Street 1920

This was to be our Big City home.

Our furniture hadn’t arrived.

Neither had our dog.

Things were strange,

Frightening and confusing.

We had new neighbors.

They proved to be our friends.

Alley behind houses

An alley behind the houses

A few borrowed pots and pans,

A table and some chairs,

Matresses, a pillow or two,

And we had moved

Moved into our Big City house.

WE LEARNED TO LIVE IN DETROIT

How far away the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan seemed,

The stillness of the hills,

The dewey freshness of the dawn.

We swept and scrubbed away the soot.

We listened to the big city noise.

There were sidewalk promenades to the electric Park.

Electric Park

Electric Park

When our dog arrived, the neighbors knew it.

He barked and howled.

He raced up and down the street.

He’d been in the crate for a week.

One day my father announced with pride:

“Today we own an automobile, a Hub 32.

It can make the boulevard viaduct in “high.”

It will need some repair. It is second hand.

Hazel in the family's first car

Hazel in the family’s first car

Sunday became our “picnic day”

With a picnic basket, filled, A red-checked table cloth on top.

Potato salad, pickles, and cookies,

Mother’s “ground ham” sandwiches,

Her own special receipe, and cake,

We’d look for a place by the lake.

1920-30 Belle Isle picinic

Picnic at Belle Isle

1920-30 Belle Isle swimming

Sunday swimming at Belle Isle

Returning from Belle Isle,

Over the old wooden bridge,

Took time, stamina and patience.

Traffic jerked, stalled, and “boiled” along

From around the Island To Jefferson Avenue

Over the bridge in a single line.

Old Belle Isle Bridge

Old Belle Isle Bridge

Lakeshore Drive was a narrow dirt road.

Lake Shore Drive

Lake Shore Drive

We soon learned how to patch flat tires.

To repair holes in the radiator,

And make the car go, but,

It wasn’t very new and Dad sold it.

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Comments

  1. Michaeleen McKinley Laney says:

    I so enjoyed seeing all the pictures from the past. Brought back memories of seeing our extended families.

  2. Michelle Grenier says:

    I was just looking for some historic photos of Manistee and came across this incredible tribute to your family’s history. What a treasure. I was absolutely transported by every verse written by Hazel Thompson.

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