Ypsilanti Citizen Opinions ]]>

Thank you Ypsilanti
By Dan DuChene & Christine Laughren
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   5:07 p.m.

Christine Laughren and Dan DuChene, co-owners of the Ypsilanti Citizen, pose in front of their company's banner at Frenchie's during the Citizen's one-year anniversary party.

The Ypsilanti Citizen was launched in November 2008 to inform the Ypsilanti community about the news and events that were happening in their area.

Since our launch,...read more

Crossroads Summer Festival; rockin’ ladies night
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   4:37 p.m.

Barbara Payton and the Big Boss Trio rock Washington Street.

A special Ladies Night was held Friday at the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Just...read more

Crossroads to hold Ladies Night for Relay for Life
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   9:13 a.m.

On June 11, the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival featured a rousing opening set from roots and blue grass band Dragon Wagon.

Dragon Wagon was joined on...read more

Electric rail pollution leads to dirty laundry
By Laura Bien
Jun. 15, 2010   ·   11:42 a.m.

From the approximate vantage point of the present-day Materials Unlimited, the interurban car barn and powerhouse on Michigan Avenue loomed large.

Maggie Smith was not looking forward to a forenoon of sewing pleats.

She put down her newest customer’s summer dress. Downstairs, she offered to get potatoes...read more

EMU students in wartime
By Laura Bien
Jun. 1, 2010   ·   10:32 a.m.

The 1942 Aurora yearbook, the 50th
anniversary edition, included images that contrasted modern and
old-time students.

Leroy Grindle was an Ypsilantian soldier who lost his life in WWII. He was a member of the Michigan Normal (EMU) class of ’41, and is memorialized with a black...read more

Ypsilantian recalls childhood in 1960s

1960s picture of former Ypsilantian Dave P., center, with sister and younger brother. Photo by Courtesy

1960s picture of former Ypsilantian Dave P., center, with sister and younger brother.
Ypsilanti Farmers Market

To the Archives

By Laura Bien
Feb. 23, 2010    ·    10:13 a.m.


Many Ypsilantians have “remember when…” mental milestones, marking the memory of shopping at the old Cunningham’s drug store, a work stint at United Stove or a visit to the Peninsular Paper Mill before it was razed. One child growing up in the 1960s Willow Run area, Dave P., remembers his Ypsilanti childhood with nostalgia.

When the wartime Willow Run housing was demolished for subdivisions in the 1960s, the new homes offered a step up for a family that included the son of a GM engineer, his five siblings and a stay-at-home mom.

“We moved to Willow Run to the then-new neighborhood of Washington Square,” Dave recalls. “We had vastly outgrown... the home we rented on Evelyn Street.”

It was 1967.

“We all loved living there because there was so much open space to the neighborhood that was yet to be developed. It was almost like living out in the country. We had lots of fun exploring the woods, fields and the burned out old theater that once served the workers in housing that stood nearby for the bomber plant workers,” Dave said.

The theater was one of the few vestiges of the old Willow Run wartime housing complex.

“Over the next 10 years or so, the subdivision was added on to and later [Green Oaks] golf course was built in the fields we once played in as children,” he said.

A favorite pastime for Dave and his siblings was the movies. The Martha Washington (now Déjà Vu) showed family movies downtown for a quarter. Several drive-ins offered a relaxed family evening, complete with pajamas.

“We would go to the Martha Washington for Disney movies like 'Pinocchio,' 'Bambie.' The Martha Washington was a family theater in those days and only showed kids shows and 50’s and 60’s Hollywood classics.” Dave recalls also going to the drive-in on Washtenaw called the Ypsi-Ann. “The Willow was over by the airport in Willow Run. My favorite movies were westerns and the Disney movies at that time.

“My parents would pop popcorn in big bags, make Kool-Aid and we would always be in our pajamas. This was even better if it was the 4th of July, because the drive-ins always had fireworks after the movie. We could also play on the playground equipment that always sat just in front of the screen.

“Dad would pull in the station wagon facing backwards to the screen, open the tailgate and all six of us kids would lay on our stomachs and watch the movie. The little speaker boxes weren't the greatest sound, kind of sounded like an echo but we still understood what was being said.”

Once in a while, Dave’s parents would treat the family to a restaurant meal.

“We didn't eat out often, mainly because that was expensive to do with 6 kids and two adults,” he said. “But occasionally my father would treat us to Burger Chef [on Washtenaw].

“The burgers were real good and mom didn't have to cook. They seemed to always get the order a bit wrong, so Dad usually was the one who didn't get any french fries or had a kid-size burger instead of the one he ordered at the time. He never complained, though.

“Mom never ate a hot meal in those days either,” continues Dave, “due to being the one who jumped into action when one of us spilled our milk on the table and eventually the floor (no sippy cups in those days). Regardless of what we were doing that day, we always had dinner together as a family. No TV in sight of the kitchen either. Once in a while we would go to the A&W drive-in for root beer in those cold, frosty, glass mugs. We ate hotdogs along with our root beer. Can still smell those smells in my mind.”

Family was important, and Sundays were reserved for church.

“We had to be home when the street lights came on and always had a bath before bedtime,” Dave recalls. “Mom and Dad each took us two at a time so bath time wouldn't take all night.

“We went to bed each night clean and left the house in the morning with clean clothes. Mom always made sure of that. We walked as a family to church each Sunday to St. Ursula Church, while that day’s dinner was cooking in the oven.

“Doesn't seem a safe thing to do now, but the roast or ham slow cooked at a low temperature while we were away.”

This time of year, Dave and his brothers and sisters would grab their skates and head outside on a Saturday, where they “had many fun weekends ice skating in the winter at Prospect Park,” he says.

“The city would flood the parking/basketball court lot near Adams Elementary School. It was frozen most of the winter and we would skate until our feet were frozen or we couldn't stand up any longer.

“We also spent many great Saturdays at the Woodland Roller Rink near the Willow Run Expressway, roller skating to the theater organ music. I met so many of my best friends there and really learned how to skate pretty well. The snack bar there was great too.” Dave adds, “We all wore pom-poms on our skates, guys and girls. It was a fad of the time and you were considered a nerd if you didn't. Mine were navy blue and they were tied to the laces of the skates.”

Dave recalls shopping at many downtown spots that include Mellencamp’s, Smith Furniture, Arlen’s Department Store and the old W. T. Grant store at Gault Village.

Dave remembers, “I was there on opening day when the first Little Caesars Pizza opened at Gault Village shopping center.”

With his ten-cent weekly allowance in his pocket, Dave would head out to the neighborhood Val’s market, where he “would spend it on paper kites, comic books, penny candy or pop.

“If you drank the 5-cent pop there, you didn't have to pay the deposit on the bottles. Deposit on the bottles was 3 cents at that time and that money was better spent on more penny candy. We looked for empties all over the neighborhood so we could cash them in for the deposit money.

“We flew our kites in a field near that market, because there were no overhead power lines in near sight.”

Dave remembers the neighborhood milkman.

“Our next-door neighbor was Mr. Erridge and his family,” he said. “He was a Twin Pines delivery milkman.

“I went with him and his daughter once on his route in the summer. The old milk truck had no seats, so we had to sit on milk crates or stand during the ride. He would occasionally sneak some chocolate milk in glass bottles, into our milk chute near the back door. My parents couldn't afford home delivery prices at that time, but Mr. Erridge always wanted the kids next door never to go without.

“He had a way with kids and could spin a tale like no one I had ever met. He was a real character and we played in his yard; it seemed like more then our own. We played hide and seek, army, king of the mountain, baseball, tackle football and all the other outside activities with the other kids in the neighborhood.

“We knew all the neighbors, that was just how it was in those days.”

That’s still how it is, in many parts of Ypsilanti, where even as the future offers new opportunities, the past is never far from view and is remembered with affection.

Laura Bien is a local history writer and the author of “Tales of the Ypsilanti Archives.” Have memories of Ypsilanti? She’d love to hear from you. Contact her at ypsidixit@gmail.com.



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