*Previews of TV One’s Unsung episode on David Ruffin bring back a lot of fond Detroit memories. For one, even though it was shown in black & white, and their appearance was but a brief few minutes, when we saw The Temptations on TV – or any Motown act for that matter – everything else stopped. It was exciting, and watching these previews takes me back to that era in Detroit when we had a very strong sense of community.
Detroit in the ‘60’s – particularly before the ’67 riot – was a beautiful city. Our neighborhood on the eastside was like a country town with pizzazz. I say that because the southern roots of the black community gave it heart and soul which was embodied by the sound of Motown music. We were like one big family and our most common strongest thread was the church and the songs we used to sing together. One could walk down any neighborhood street and hear the latest Motown record from one house to another; or someone playing a piano; girls playing hopscotch on the sidewalk; guys playing basketball in the alley; neighbors looking out for one another and each others’ kids; grownups sitting onthe front porch listening to the Detroit Tigers game on the radio while perhaps drinking a cold Stroh’s beer; and all the things that somehow got away from us these past 45 years. Those same neighborhoods are now in shambles as Detroit struggles to re-invent and re-tool itself.
Then there were those exciting family picnics at Belle Isle Park– an island on the Detroit River with Detroit on one side and Windsor Canada on the other. There was Dot & Etta’s Shrimp Hut; Green’s Bar B Q restaurant; the Delthe and Rialto Theaters right in the neighborhood; Fairview skating rink; bowling downstairs at Macedonia church; and so many more attractions. It was home, and the memory still lingers.
For the benefit of the children now living in Detroit, if you have some fond memories you’d like to share about your own neighborhood, please feel free to leave a comment about Detroit then and now.
The Unsung episode on Ruffin airs Monday March 5th at 10PM EST on TV One.
Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Steuben Pub) www.amazon.com. Available at Smiley’s Bookstore in Carson CA, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, and Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara CA. Visit the author at www.larrybuford.com. (213) 220-8101