Motown Memories

It started by stumbling across a photograph that had been taken in a unusual location, one of Detroit’s most recognizable landmarks looming in the background. “Where was the photographer standing when he created that picture?” I wondered if I could find it, then create my own unique image from the same location.

My childhood days were spent in a small town in rural mid-Michigan. Most started by doing chores on a family farm located three miles from my home. My father would wake me each morning to join him on the trip to feed and water the animals before he went to work and I went to school.

I hated those mornings.

Didn’t like getting up early; didn’t like venturing out in the cold and dark; didn’t like conversation when all I really wanted was 40 more minutes of sleep. The routine consisted of hopping in the truck with the radio tuned to WJR, the voice of JP McCarthy broadcasting from the “Golden Tower of the Fisher Building” accompanying us as we drove to and from the farm.

So when I found the location from which to photograph my car, there was something familiar and comforting about the Fisher Building watching over me.

It doesn’t make sense to drive almost three hours each way to take one photo. I scoured the maps for something, anything else that might be interesting nearby. When I saw a large, vacant lot at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull only blocks away, I knew that I had another spot that I needed to visit.

memory lane-5

A baseball fan may recognize that intersection; A Tiger fan will definitely remember it. Tiger Stadium served as the home of the Detroit Tigers baseball club from 1912 to 1999.

My first trip to the stadium took place in August, 1977. I was nine years old and I was sure that I’d get a baseball hit to me that day so I came prepared by bringing my glove to the ballpark. Three seats in the first row along the railing down the right field line.

Tigers playing the Twins. I couldn’t tell you who won that day but I’ll forever remember the name of Milt May. It was Milt, the catcher/designated hitter for the Tigers, who fouled a ball off his bat that rolled perfectly to a stop along the fence directly in front of me, my mom and my dad. Even with my glove, I was too short to reach the ball. Thankfully, my dad wasn’t. He plucked the ball off the field and handed it to me, thereby cementing in my mind the guarantee that “every time you go to a game you’ll get a ball.” (I have since been to 25 of the 30 MLB stadiums; that ball is STILL the only game ball I’ve ever actually had hit to me.)

The ball came with me back to the stadium from which it originated.

memory lane-2

Tiger fans will also recall the flagpole in deep centerfield. 125 feet high and just to the left of the 440′ sign painted on the centerfield wall, the flagpole is “the highest outfield obstacle ever in play in baseball history,” and one of the few things that remain from the old Stadium.

memory lane-3

What began as a quest to make a photo of my car instead turned into a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane.

Ahhh, Detroit. Thanks for the memories!

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