Here’s something you probably didn’t know about me. When I was a little girl, I lived in a huge home. Almost a Castle. You might even call it an Estate.
So that you will believe me, I’ve made some drawings of our home.
I wouldn’t want you to think I was exaggerating.
See? Huge. Vast. Immense. Humongous. Big. Really Big (I’m running out of synonyms, but you get the drift).
Okay, so perhaps the reality is a little less….Big.
In fact, our house in Detroit had a total of 899 square feet. How we were able to fit everything (including 4 children – Jimmy wasn’t born yet) in this house is beyond my understanding.
But, it was a perfect house and we loved it.
A couple of weeks ago I visited my sister and brother-in-law, Karen and Rich. Karen asked what I wanted to do. I asked if we might go see our house in Detroit. None of us had seen it (except for Google Earth) in almost 50 years!!!
Loaded with cameras and expectations, we took off for our old neighborhood (between West Chicago and Joy Road). The neighborhood had changed a bit, but the biggest difference was the trees. When we were little, we had huge Elm trees that nearly covered the streets with their branches. It was like a cathedral.
Unfortunately, Dutch Elm Disease took all of these wonderful, stately trees. In spite of the DDT spray applied by small planes and helicopters (“Parents, keep your children and pets in the house. There’s nothing to worry about, it’s just a precaution.”) Dutch Elm slowly but surely decimated the Elm trees in Detroit.
Except for the trees, it was not drastically different from when we grew up. Oh, some of the houses had fallen in disrepair, but an equal number of houses had been improved.
As we turned the corner on to Manor, both Karen and I were just about jumping out of our seats.
We slowed down when we got close to the house.
And then we got a little self-conscious as there was a man outside sweeping the drive. We didn’t want to seem rude.
Evidently we were not as subtle as we intended, as the man turned and looked at us with a quizzical look on his face. I rolled down my window (here I go again. I did NOT roll down my window. I don’t even think it is possible to roll down a car window. I used the button).
Me: “Excuse me, do you mind if I take some pictures? We lived here when we were little.”
“That must have been close to 50 years ago.”
Me (thinking….I guess I look my age after all): “You’re right. How did you know?”
“Well, my wife and I bought the house from your family. We’ve lived in it ever since”.
WHAT? WHAT DID HE SAY?
The door popped open, Karen and I tumbled out and we managed to introduce ourselves while we hugged and laughed and stuttered in amazement.
Eddie G and his wife, Ann, raised three children in our childhood home. Their kids had left, but they still loved their home and the memories of raising their family. We compared notes, told stories of our childhood (he was polite enough to act as though he cared) and just generally had a ball.
Eddie took us into the back-yard to look at the deck he installed and the landscaping he had put in (in back of me so you can’t see it in this picture).
Karen and I reminisced about the back-yard and all our good times. Hollyhocks growing in the alley, the dog-house for our dog Pepper and the ice rink Dad put in every winter (are you surprised to know that we thought it was the same size as the one in the Ice Capades)?
After gabbing a bit more with Eddie (Ann had to go pick up their grand-children), we hugged some more and said our ‘good-byes’. It made us feel good to know that our home was in such good hands.
I am still smiling.
From there, I thought Mr. H. and Rich would be interested to know that we had to walk such a long way to school every day. At least a couple of miles, maybe more (up hill, in the snow…you know what I’m saying’)?
Okay, maybe only .54 miles.
But I was really little, so I think it might have been farther for me. (That’s me and my posse. I’m in front with the pinafore dress. Second to the right. Bowl cut hair-do and big ol’ smile)
We went to McFarlane School, but it was closed. Still, I am pretty sure I could smell the cafeteria food and eraser dust.
From here, we were just a hop, skip and jump to our Grandma and Grandpa W.’s old house, so naturally we had to drop in.
No one was living there any longer, so it hadn’t received the TLC of our old house.
It still looked very much like it did when we were little. I wonder if there are still rubber bands around the kitchen door handle? (I’m on the left, then Karen and Cathy. Mom was a firm believer in the bowl cut).
Mr. H. and Rich thought we’d had plenty of excitement for one day, but we had to make one more stop.
Our Grandpa W. used to pick up the best fish n chips in the world and bring them home for dinner when we visited.
He always went to Scotty’s Fish ‘n Chips. Naturally, we had to go visit. I told Mr. H. we were just going to pick up some “fish to go” for old time’s sake.
The guys waited in the car while Karen and I went into Scotty’s.
You know how this is going to end, don’t you?
Nothing had changed. From the patterned carpet to the wood and vinyl chairs it was just as we remembered.
As we walked in, a nice looking man peeked out from behind the counter and told us to “come on in”. I explained that we were just visiting and that we were reminiscing about the times we used to pick up Fish ‘n Chips with our Grandfather.
“Well, I’ve been here since 1964 so we probably met”.
That’s right. Harry worked at Scotty’s when he was still a teenager (and we just might have seen each other at that time) and now owned the business.
My nostalgia-filled head was about to burst.
I explained that we were just going to pick up some fish to go.
“No, that won’t do at all. You sit right down and really enjoy the experience. I’ll play music that we might have heard years ago and you can enjoy the best Fish and Chips you’ve ever had”.
You didn’t have to ask us twice.
We did have to ask the guys twice.
Once we got the guys out of the car and into the vinyl seats we had a ball talking about the old times.
Harry was the third owner, but he maintained all the ambience of the original restaurant.
The prices probably changed, but not much else on the menu.
In the day, Scotty would wrap out take-out order in newspaper to keep it warm. Harry says he sometimes still uses newspaper around the butcher paper to keep food warm. (Not Harry’s hands. Our darling waitress was preparing a carry out).
If you eat Scotty’s Fish ‘n Chips, you MUST use Malt Vinegar on the fries.
It’s a law. I think.
Harry was not kidding. These were the best Fish and Chips I have EVER had. Really. The Best. As you know, I am not given to exaggeration, but even if I were, these would still be the best Fish and Chips EVER.
If you are in the Detroit area, be sure to visit and tell Harry that we sent you. Scotty’s is located on the corner of Fenkell and Lahser.
Okay, I’m spent. That’s an awful lot of nostalgifying.