By MARY CROSS
Administrator, Downriver Things Facebook site
I was born in Detroit, in 1961. Lived the first three years of my life on Cicotte St, in River Rouge, then we moved to Lincoln Park. About six months after graduation, I moved to the west side of the state to further my education at a Trade School. Graduated from there, found love, and moved to Detroit, then to Macomb County. Returned to the Downriver area in about 1986, and haven't left since.
Living in Macomb County, and the west side of the state, never felt like home. My heart longed for the Downriver area the entire six years I was gone. We're surrounded by beautiful parks, beaches, historic buildings, churches, and homes.
To me, it seems as the people here have a something different about them, I've never quite figured it out, but, it's good. Sometimes I think it has something to do with pride.
I think the Downriver area has a huge potential of moving forward. But, it's going to take many people putting their heads together for it to happen. Not just our Community Leaders, but citizens as well. Many people complain and say things, but don't do anything about it. Improving the area starts at ground zero.
And ground zero is not at any particular building, park, or school. It starts where you are. If you see a garbage can rolling around as you're driving up a road, get out and put it on the curb. It doesn't matter if it's on the wrong curb, just move it from danger. As you move it, consider this, the owner may still be at work, picking up the kids from school, or may be sleeping after working a midnight shift.
The downriver area began with farms. People use to have barn raising parties when a member of the community needed help. Whether it was to build or repair a barn or home, the community came together for that family. Sometimes it was an all day event, others, it was the entire weekend. Either way, the job got done. Multiple skilled tradesmen came together. The women cooked, baked, and fed everyone. Everyone had a job to do, even kids.
Later, the auto industry, steel mills, and chemical companies moved in. Then the recession hit in the 1930's. Jobs were lost, multiple generations were living under one roof. It was tough, but the folks of the downriver area pulled through.
I can recall a story my Godmother use to tell me. She grew up in Lincoln Park, on the corner of Fort St and White. (This was before White Castles was there).
Her father was a Tailor. While the business he worked for had to let him go, he was still able to do tailoring for others. Her mom had a nice garden in their backyard. When the vegetables were ripe, my Godmother's mom use to bag them up, then she and her brother would go around the neighborhood with a wagon behind them full of veggies, and distribute them to neighbors in need.
I always loved when she would talk about that time of her life. And she loved to talk about it. There's many other stories like this, all involving the downriver area. People coming together helping one another, without hesitation, without fear of embarrassment, with love.
Since then, many communities are falling apart. But look at Wyandotte, and Woodhaven, they're growing, thriving, things are happening. Every community can do the same. But the blaming, finger pointing, things of the past needs to stop.
Our elderly folks are part of the community. They have fences in need of repair. Gutters in need of cleaning, etc. Instead of complaining about, offer your assistance. You probably won't be paid monetarily, but more than likely will be offered coffee, homemade cookies, and a smile from the heart, that money just can't buy.