The Last Time I Saw Motown

I’m going to Detroit, Motor City, Motown. I haven’t been to Detroit in many years, since before all the bad things that happened there with the automobile industry’s decline and urban decay. The city is supposed to be making a comeback. I’ll find out and let you know.
My memories of Detroit are pretty dim at this point. My visit was a long time ago, when my kids were toddlers. Mostly I remember the big Interstates with five lanes of traffic in one direction and getting lost after missing our exit. I don’t know how anyone found their way around with just a map in those days, but we finally turned around and found our way back to the right destination. That could happen anywhere, of course, not just in Detroit.
Later, we wanted to go to the Henry Ford museum on the other side of the city from where we were. After our little misadventure on the Interstate, we decided to cut through town using city streets. Big mistake. We wound around through some of the worse ghettos I have ever seen. It took forever, but we finally did actually arrive and tour the museum, which was full of remarkable antique cars and almost worth the effort to get there.
We were visiting relatives and Uncle Bob decided to show us around. He, of course, showed us the nicer part of the city, big old Victorian mansions with beautiful red petunias planted in front. I was so impressed by the flowers that I planted red petunias in front of my house for years afterwards. There is more than one side to Detroit and probably more than one side to its story as well.
Uncle Bob wanted us to go on a fishing trip with him to the northern peninsula of Michigan and stay in his camper. About all I remember of that little adventure is that it was cold, rainy and miserable. The guys waded out into the lake to fish for salmon and the women stayed in the camper with the kids. I should have stayed at home, but I didn’t realize how bad the conditions would be. So much for salmon fishing.
After leaving Detroit, we decided to go to Niagara Falls which is only a short drive if you cut through Canada. We actually made it okay without getting lost or arrested by immigration authorities. The falls were gorgeous and very impressive. Everyone should go there at least once in a lifetime.
There were also other attractions besides the falls, like shops with duty-free imported china and beautiful English-style formal gardens. We decided to take a tour on a tour bus. When it came to a petting zoo, we got off the bus to  let the children see the animals. Another big mistake. The animals were aggressive and the goats thought my purse was a feedbag. My pre-school son decided to chase after a goose and ran into mud that was over the tops of his shoes.
By the time I got him cleaned up in the restroom, we had missed the last tour bus back and were stranded. We didn’t know that, however, and waited and waited for the bus. Finally, we called the bus company. They sent a special bus to pick us up, but we had to wait another hour for them to come. From that I learned to never leave a tour and go off on your own, regardless of what they say about catching the next bus.
I don’t remember much else about that trip. As I said, it was a long time ago when I was younger and less travel savvy. The best part of Detroit was probably the museum. Hopefully, I can avoid goats, mud, salmon-fishing, and driving around in the ghetto this time. I most certainly will not leave a tour and strike out on my own.

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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