we get started for Detroit? It's Sunday of course but those
wicked Americans will keep their theatres open. And we've
looked forward to this day for weeks.
along. Get the children aboard the Wyandotte streetcar at the
corner of Lincoln Road. Each of us will drop a nickel in the farebox.
Three cents for the children. Give them their pennies.
for the sheet metal knight on his horse in front of that shop
on the north side. That's the sign that we're almost downtown.
All off at Goyeau Street. Walk a block west to Dufferin, where
Webster Brothers Ford dealership is located.
short block north to the low brick building at the tunnel entrance.
(How many of us know that its proper name is the Fleetway Tunnel?).
Quite a few Canadians going to Detroit today.
of them bound for the Michigan or Fox Theatres. Or the Adams or
United Artists. Well, why not? To heck with the Depression. Anyway,
Prosperity is just around the corner. Didn't Roosevelt say so
in his fireside chat just the other day?
the square-cornered dark grey tunnel bus with its big exterior
sun-visor across the entire windshield. Oh, my sainted aunts,
how the brick roadbed of the tunnel vibrates the bus. It's like
being in one of those new-fangled milk-shake machines in the Jumbo
Ice-Cream Parlor on Ottawa Street.
together now as we pass through the Aliens' gate at the United
States Immigration. As usual, the adults are being asked: "Where
do you work?" There aren't enough jobs to go around in these early
1930's and the immigration officers have their hands full trying
to stop unemployed Windsorites from looking for work in the States.
the bus again out on seedy Woodbridge Avenue and ride up to Cadillac
Square with its old brownstone Detroit City Hall. Dejected unemployed
men competing with the pigeons for a place to sprawl on the imposing
few minutes walk on this chilly February day. Boys buttoning leather
aviator caps under their chins. Goggles pulled down over their
eyes. Along State Street, up prestigious Washington Boulevard
to Grand River, over a few blocks to Bagley and the magnificent
Michigan Theatre, one of the largest movie houses in the entire
a line-up. Get your money ready. That will be a quarter
for adults and ten cents for children. It's even more expensive
during the week. That's why we come on Sundays.
once inside. Incredible! Look at the rich carpeting, the statues,
the painting, the grand piano over there. And look at the seven
at last. There's Jesse Crawford at the organ actually rising out
of the floor into the orchestra pit as he plays. Catch your breath
as the soft blue spotlights sparkle on the keys.
audience is in great voice for today's sing-song. Our voices swell
with the organ to fill this vast theatre with the joyous sounds
of "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie". No need to worry about
the words. They're all up there on the screen. And the little
white ball dances along on top of them to keep us all in step.
it's the Movietone News ("The Eyes and Ears of the World") and
a Betty Boop cartoon ("Boop-boop-a-doop") followed by the feature
movie "The Champ", with Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper.
eyes ache as we step out into the bright sunshine, reflected on
the snow. But they adjust quickly as we walk two short blocks
to the White Tower Restaurant at Grand Circus Park. The hamburgers
will cost five cents each but they're real doozies. Smothered
in thin sliced dills a White Tower specialty they
are to us the best hamburgers in the world.
down Woodward Avenue, the wind at our backs. As we approach
the river, expensive shops give way to run-down tobacco stores,
novelty shops and cheap cafes with their odours of chop suey.
the Michigan Book exchange where a fat, unkempt proprietor, cigar
stub in mouth, prices second-hand books according to their size.
I doubt very much that he can read.
the Avenue Burlesque with streetside photos of lumpy peroxide
blondes draped in ostrich feathers, and a leering Scurvy, the
house comedian. ("Look the other way, children.")
to the original plant of the James Vernor Company near the river
where we complete our day with a five-cent glass of nose-tickling
ginger ale. Or, if you could afford it, a cream Vernor's (ginger
ale and real cream) for ten cents.
we board the Windsor-Detroit ferry "LaSalle" for the trip back.
Ignore the ice floes. Fifteen minutes later we are at the Ouellette
dock, disembarking via the second-deck gangplank.
Canadian Customs. Downstairs. Emerge behind the decrepit
Ritz Hotel on the northwest corner of Ouellette Avenue and Sandwich
Street. Home on the Sandwich streetcar with its breathtaking curve
at the top of the Peabody Bridge.
of a beautiful day. Total cost for a family of four: less
than $3. The bad old days? Well, maybe. But not on Sunday. In