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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Yorker writer recalls living in Detroit's North Rosedale Park

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Rosedale Park Historic District (Wikimedia Commons) Rollo Romig spent his early years growing up in Detroit, a period he reflects upon in an essay on the New Yorker's website this week, titled "When You've Had Detroit." The piece is a slice of a new book set to be released soon. Romig describes his neighborhood, North Rosedale Park, as a "paradise."

We moved to North Rosedale in December, 1975, just after I turned one and my sister turned three. My mom thought that she’d gone to heaven. The day we moved in, our neighbor Mrs. Halsted stopped by to make sure we knew about Community Christmas—which turned out to be a beautifully organized arts-and-crafts assembly line for local kids and kaffeeklatsch for their parents, free of charge. Then our next-door neighbors the Youngs invited us to their annual Christmas party for everyone on the block. One night it snowed, and my parents woke up the next morning to find their sidewalk already plowed by emissaries from the neighborhood civic association. On our first Christmas at our previous house in Detroit, burglars stole our winter coats and all the presents from under the tree, leaving a stampede of muddy footprints on the living room carpet.

But within five months, though, Romig's family got hit with a dose of reality:
It was good enough that there was a lot we were willing to ignore. Five months after we moved to North Rosedale, three men with guns took my mother’s purse while she chatted outside a friend’s house on a perfect May evening. When a cop arrived, my dad pointed out that the muggers now had our home address and our house keys. What to do? “Well, you go into your house, you turn off all the lights, you get your gun, and you spend the night sitting behind the front door,” the cop said. “If somebody tries to come in, you can start shooting.” “What is this, the fucking Wild West?” my dad said. “Anyway, I don’t have a gun.”
Reflecting on his experiences in Detroit, Romig writes he and his sisters don't consider moving home. But, he adds, "we’ve never wished we grew up anywhere else." You can read the essay over at the New Yorker's website.

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