Hamlet’s Hardy Fan-Base: Shakespeare Returns to Royal Oak, July 31-August 10th

Combine the magic and nostalgia of a drive-in with the most classic tale of murder, haunted castles and terrible puns, then throw in the potential rain-delay of a ballgame and you’re ready for Hamlet that opens the 14th season of the Water Works Theatre Company on July 31st in Royal Oak. The Globe Theatre didn’t have a roof.  The cheap seats were right up front where the “groundlings” sat for a penny and were able to bring their food—generally as ammunition—rain be-damned.  The producers, writers and actors knew the audience was an integral part of the performance—to their own peril sometimes.  Joseph Papp, in 1954, was the first to “out”  Shakespeare once again, yanking him from his dark theatres, anthologies, and thousands of stuffy classrooms. Over the past fourteen years, for two weeks in August in Royal Oak, Water Works Theatre Company has presented William Shakespeare to a growing fan-base of new-age groundlings—most toting folding chairs, rain-ponchos and a… Read More…

Dreaming and Hoping: Cruising Woodward, Happy Days and Retconning a Decade with Fictional American Idealism

I can see why a lot of people don’t like the Dream Cruise, especially if you live in that area. Or, as is in my case, the Dream Cruise can be a big ol’ inconvenience to those who have to work in the Bloomfield Hills to Royal Oak area. It’s loud, a lot of the people are annoying. You can’t get anywhere quick, if you can get anywhere at all. Vendors are closed, and it’s no honeymoon trying to make the last FedEx pick up in Birmingham the Thursday and Friday before the actual Dream Cruise.  So, I get it. It seems there are more haters every year, though. In classic Michigander style, we like to complain when there’s nothing going on as much as we like to complain when an event prevents us from doing the nothing things that we would typically do on any given weekend. From the… Read More…

ID Those Old Snapshots! The Orson Starr House and “Lots of Love, Lois”

You don’t meet that many women named Lois–perhaps Superman was kryptonite to that name after the 1940s.  But today I met one and was immediately reminded of another–someone I’d never met but I’m sure I’d like her. As a family historian, I’ve always been grateful to the long-gone folks who took 30 seconds to identify people on the backs of their snapshots.  In the large shoebox of Brownie pictures I inherited from my grandmother, most with no notations (since it was obvious to her who they were!) I enjoy this note the most. 89 years ago, Lois even took the time to double-over the ink to be sure it came through clearly.  She seems fun and perhaps a bit scattered–not everyone’s slashes go in two directions and not all dates have a period, but the flip side of the picture seems to bear out my armchair pschoanalysis… A middle of leaf-covered yard is… Read More…

Woodward Dream Cruise: Happy Days, Unhappy Neighbors

My wife and I started a Yahoo Group in our neighborhood that’s grown to over 100 residents.  It’s come in very handy as a local Angie’s List for handymen and landscape companies.  It’s also found many a lost pet and alerted folks to local burglaries; we even sold some furniture and donated a piano to a little girl around the corner. But like any forum, it can get a little dicey–particularly with the boon (or bane) just down the street from our Royal Oak home–The Woodward Dream Cruise.  This southeastern Michigan 18-year tradition of classic cars from the 1950’s through the early 1970’s involves close to a million participants up and down the first paved highway in America.  And our neighborhood, near 13 Mile Road has been celebrated as the epicenter of all memories brought forward by American Graffiti and Mel’s Diner from Happy Days. It wasn’t a problem with… Read More…