Sunday, June 27, 2010

Date Night in Mexican Town

St. Anne's Church

Last night was date night for my honey and me. We piled into the car around 7 PM and headed to southwest Detroit and Mexican Town where we had dinner at Los Galenes restaurant. He had the margarita, I had the cerveza, and we both ate a lot of food. This particular restaurant is my favorite in this part of town and lucky for us, it's not the busiest or most popular restaurant down there, but,'s our secret. We were seated immediately and finished in no time at all. Not bad for a Saturday night.

For dessert, we decided to drive down Jefferson and through Grosse Pointe on our way to the ice cream parlor that has the best frozen custard in town. Near the border of Grosse Pointe, we could see Jefferson was blocked by big top tents. I don't know if it was a festival, carnival or revival of sorts, but in the background, we could see thick, billowing black smoke rising into the sky. We had to drive down side streets to get around the big top tents and had a tour of the urban devastation so common in Detroit: burned out shells of what were once beautiful homes and neighborhoods, and wide open spaces which were once housing tracts. Utter blight and only a stone's throw from Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and the wealthy Grosse Pointe communities. In all of the big cities I've seen, I've never seen the likes of the destruction so prevalent on the lower east side of Detroit. I wonder what the French priest, Father Gabriel Richard, would think of Detroit these days. I thought about him because we drove past St. Anne's Church, the second oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic church in the United States, in Mexican Town where he was a priest in 1796 (the church was founded in 1701). Detroit's motto is attributed to Father Richard after Detroit and most of his church burned in 1805: Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus. Translated: "We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes". Let's hope that history can repeat itself.

My husband and I presumed, not unreasonably, that the thick smoke rising above the homes was another boarded up Detroit house going up in smoke, and despite the plethora of Detroit Fire Department trucks racing in the direction of the fire, we were wrong. Detroit's DFD was on its way to help out Grosse Pointe Park's fire department. Apparently, someone's grill exploded and ruined dinner and the garage for that family. The fire was incredibly intense and the homes there are packed in like sardines in a can--perhaps the DFD was there to prevent a small fire from becoming an unspeakable tragedy. I got a few pictures on my cell phone camera, but had forgotten my regular camera, so you'll have to imagine what this part of our date looked like to us.

Sadly, the frozen custard joint was closed for the night. Broke my heart. We had to settle for a different parlor's attempt at frozen custard. It was so-so.

On a brighter note, we watched the orange moon rise over Lake St. Clair. Full, low in the sky and stunningly beautiful, I couldn't help but be secretly thrilled that for once, I wasn't working on a full moon hospice night. I thanked my lucky stars.

Two more days to work and my vacation will start in earnest.

What did you do this weekend?

Photo, Wikimedia, from the U.S. Register of Historical Places


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i remember baltimore being like that in 1970 and the mayor then, mayor schaffer, decided to sell those row houses for one dollar each but the buyer had to spend a certain amount in repairs, don't remember the number, and to bring the house back to original, not change it. they are million dollar homes today. federal hill. what an idea!

smiles, bee

SkippyMom said...

Empress I remember that too and I thought Detroit was doing the same thing? Trying to revitalize the area by selling cheap and having owner/occupiers fix them up.

If there was a thriving pool biz in Detroit I know we would consider moving there.

Sounds like a nice evening Rudee, sorry you missed the custard. If you ever make it to VA I will take you to Carl's in Fredericksburg, they are LEGENDARY - and it is so, so good. Makes me sad we don't live down that way anymore. [closer than now]

Gail said...

Vacation!!!! Just around the corner, how wonderful and well-earned.

I just been walking the dogs. We are have a cold wave...ninty-three.

Winifred said...

Sounds like you're starting a good holiday. I've never heard of frozen custard. Is it like a type of ice cream?

Anyway have a lovely time.

Jadekitty said...

Shopping and more shopping :)

Michaela said...

That is so sad about Detroit. I think I have seen an episode of This Old House where a big old Detroit home gets fixed up. I LOVE that show. We had a BBQ on the weekend, but it stayed under control. Also I watched my son play rugby. He played well and made me very proud :-) We have the full moon too, in Downunder! It may be the only real-world thing you and I can both actually see. Isnt that an amazing thought?

Brenda said...

St. Anne's church is absolutely beautiful! We love to visit churches like that to find out the history and see the architecture. I was glad that you gave a link to Father Gabriel Richard. That was really interesting to read that he was the first priest to become a member of Congress. My guess would be he was the first and last and only, but now you have me wondering and I may have to do some research on it.
Our son-in-law's brother teaches in Detroit and knows the areas pretty well and when he visited last he talked about the areas that look like a war zone. He said it is really sad. We have areas like that here, but I don't know how they compare to those areas in Detroit.
Vacation sounds great! We are on one now that is a staycation.

Stephanie V said...

Lucky stars and a beautiful moon all in one night - sounds perfect. Well, except for the lack of No. 1 frozen custard.

I can't imagine having that kind of destruction in a city. So sad. We have areas of town where we don't want to go but nothing like that.

Joanna said...

I was hearing on the radio that they are demolishing whole areas of Detroit where freeways went through neighbourhoods and ruined them. What a sad ending for a city, although perhaps it can be a renewal. I didn't know there was a Mexican town so far north. Sounds like you had a fun evening. Hope your holiday is a good one.

Anonymous said...

A great bit of writing Rudee. I guess most cities have areas similar to that. I know Louisville is working hard to revitalize the downtown hear the Ohio River. I so enjoyed hearing your and your man having a fun time just being together. Hooray for vacation.

Anonymous said...

Your date sounded 'almost perfect'! I'm glad it went so well. St. Anne's is a favorite of mine, too. Our sisters staffed the school from the beginning and many of our sisters came from that parish. Did you know that in our original SSJ chapel in Cahokia, Illinois...across the river from St. Louis, there are some of Gabriel Richard's things. He was all the way down there!! What a dedicated priest and how well educated...he's responsible in some way for U of M, too.
Your Nica friend...see you soon!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful night Rudee. Thanks for the history on St. Anne's. Looks like a beautiful church. I agree with you and hope Detroit can become beautiful again. I'd have gone with the Maragritas myself.
Have a wonderful, restful, peace filled, vacation. Hospice nurses should be off one week after working two weeks.. You are heros and need the break. just saying

sapphireblue said...

I hope detroit is able to make a comeback. That church is beautiful!

Sandy said...

What an eventful date night. It sounds great and then the fire...but at least it was just the garage. Love that photo. And now I must go use google maps and take the street tour of all those places you mentioned.

I love doing that. But it takes a lot of time.

jeannette said...

The St Anne's church is a beautiful building! Makes me think on a similar church in New Orleans, only that one is white.