Monday, October 12, 2015

Black and White

Dad use to work in the
Chrysler building.  I think it was the tall one
to the right...not sure.
Photo Courtesy
The city of Detroit is preparing for an event to remember the 1967 riots. The purpose is to help other cities cope and possibly prevent the same from happening to them. 

I was really young at the time. So was my Dad and Mom.

We lived less than a mile from the action. Fights broke out in my school. The national guard was called in. Dad listened to the news. He and Mom probably spoke privately. I could only guess right now what they said.

The riots started in downtown Detroit. Gangs of people moved up Woodward, some up Livernois setting buildings on fire and breaking windows.  

As a child, I had no idea what caused the riots. I only knew a lot of people were afraid. People of every race were afraid. Afraid for their children, their homes, their jobs, their businesses.

Dad stood strong. He worked in downtown Detroit and had a second job delivering pizzas to some of the poorest districts. He never showed fear until the riots came within a mile of our house.

He told my mom, sisters, and brother to get into the station wagon. We pulled out of the driveway and drove two hours to my aunt's farmhouse. 

He monitored the reports until he felt safe to bring us back home.

Like any other large city, the expressway was crowded. My brother lay in the back of the car and my sisters and I sat in the middle seat. No seat belts at that time.

We girls might have been fighting, singing, hard telling since we did a lot of both, when a loud pop scared us. The car swerved tightly left to right crossing the expressway back and forth then spun around onto the shoulder until it came to a dead stop.

A gray cloud enveloped the car. Mom yelled, "I smell gas. Kids, get out of the car."

We barreled out and sat on the grass not understanding what had happened. Dad took out the jack and walked to the back right tire. 

A car pulled up behind us. A young man in a tux, we later found out he was heading to a wedding, walked up to Dad. He said, "I saw what happened. Let me help."

Dad stood back. Dazed. His wrist sprained from trying to control the steering wheel and preventing the car from flipping.

The man changed the tire then left. We never knew his name. The only description I remember of him was he arrived in a clean black and white text, and left with soil on his clothes.

We later pulled into our drive and found our neighborhood physically unchanged. Our hearts, though, were forever changed.

I struggle to think of a question to ask, but would really appreciate chatting with you.

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