Join host Pete Kalinski from Royal Oak’s Boo’s Music Bistro inside Mr. B’s Restaurant as he welcomes two of the city’s foremost fans and promoters of Detroit’s legendary blues legacy–President of the Detroit Blues Society, Steve Soviak and Vice President Tom McNab.
It’s first meeting in 1985 began a multi-decade of transformations to increase public interest in the Society. Large-scale events included a number of indoor and outdoor concerts and school workshops. Increased membership and a more organized approach allowed the Society to embark on special projects. Educational programs became more formalized and in 1996 the Scarab Club Educational/Blues Heritage Series began. Each event featured a theme based on some aspect of the Detroit blues tradition.
What to keep, what to throw away? The eternal question for the archivist.
In a partnership with Digging Detroit, we take our podcast on the road and chat with some of Michigan’s top historical archivists in a roundtable discussion at historic Abick’s Bar on their unusual world–sometimes spent in dusty shelves and digging through dark basements and mysterious attics–but often waiting for you at the reference desk.
They’ll share some familiar requests, general misconceptions, surprise treasures and offer some great advice for everyone on preserving documents, photographs and memories for posterity.
“On summer nights, before anyone had air-conditioning,” recollects my friend Tony Shaieb, “you could walk down the street and listen to Ernie Harwell call the entire ball game through the open windows.”
Tony’s memories are quite a bit more romantic than the eerie bluish-glow from my neighborhood’s 60″ plasmas tuned to Fox Sports Detroit
My wife and I were taking the dog for a walk last night and I had a similar flashback to the legendary Tigers broadcaster. A few of my more enthusiastic neighbors who foolishly believe in fertilizer found themselves already mowing the young grass—and what better time to run the Toro than 8:30 pm? (When our kids were toddlers, our considerate neighbor Thad would wait another 90 minutes before he’d begin.)
Alex MacLean has seen Detroit from the sky at various stages since 1980. The large green-spaces below, for example, were once crowded neighborhoods and business districts in a city’s footprint that is large enough to fit Houston, Boston and Manhattan. These grassy fields seen from Google Maps might be mistaken for parks.
Similar green spaces a few miles north of town generally have bunkers and greens fees.
A trained architect, pilot, author and photographer, MacLean lives in Massachusetts but has seen Detroit from above as Ronald Reagan received the Republican presidential nomination, for the 1998 demolition of the landmark Hudson Building and last autumn at a request from the New York Times. Each visit is like dropping into a different chapter of the city’s history–urban farms were previously dangerous abandoned homes and lots.
“The Joe,” the battleship-gray windowless box on the Detroit River, is slated for 2017 demolition, making way for high-rise condos, a hotel and shopping as part of a pay-back to creditors owed $1 billion. For a few months in-between wrecking-ball and ground-breaking, Detroiters will once again have an unobstructed view of the river at the corner of Fort and 3rd–as if looking back in time and seeing the Purple Gang hijack another bootlegger at the docks, before moving its haul up the street to the speakeasy beside the church.
And that same little brick building on the left will probably still be standing when the condos are torn down in 60 years–perhaps making way for the next home for the Wings.
When the 1974 picture above was taken, I was probably immersed in Channel 50’s after-school reruns of Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island or … Read More… →