My “Small Town” Canadian Family
The series “The Gilmore Girls” was recently revived on Netflex – and GIs were interviewed on the national news saying the series represented the kind of small town life they felt represented the best of America. I recently drove to Brigden, Ontario Canada with my brother Bill for a family funeral – a town that in my memory felt like Stars Hollow. (And yes, my mother’s Slovak parents had a farm near Vassar, Michigan that was also a small town haven, but that’s another blog!) My Aunt Mary Jane passed away at 93 in a London, Ont. long term care home and was my late father’s youngest sister – only one more older sister survives now in Florida.
Brigden is less than a two hour drive from the northern Detroit suburbs, with the option to take the Bluewater ferry at Marine City or drive farther north to the Bluewater Bridge at Sarnia. We lucked out and got to the ferry right before it left, then drove up the region’s pastoral roads. Continue reading
On Going Home Again
I recently moved from Brooklyn to Warren, Michigan, located in the county where I first started my journalism career as a reporter at the Macomb Daily newspaper. Because Warren is just several miles from my childhood home, my new neighborhood really feels like coming full circle in my life. I eagerly left the area in my 20s for the bright lights of New York City to pursue my career, leaving two brothers and their families behind, as well as two sets of beloved grandparents .
My father’s parents were retired Canadian farmers, and had moved to a rustic resort community called Colchester on Lake Erie, where I learned to swim in the summer and ice skate in the cold winters. My mother’s parents had a dairy farm near Vassar, Michigan and had emigrated from Czechoslovakia. I had lots of fresh milk, home-cooked Slovak recipes and learned how to plant and harvest potatoes, their main crop. When you pick potatoes with your mischievous cousins, it’s actually fun! By the time I left the area, my parents had already retired to Florida.
Now that I’ve returned, I’m looking forward to finding lots of inspiration for my blog, while chronicling the changes in my hometown community, one of the areas hardest hit by the recession, despite the revival of the auto industry. I grew up near 6 Mile and Gratiot in Detroit, my working class neighborhood sadly replaced by a vast, empty field. The Vassar family farm is now parceled out among the surviving grandchildren. I plan to extend a long goodbye to friends and colleagues in New York as I return over the next months by Greyhound bus – more on that soon! Stay tuned.