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Lincoln Park Tribe, 1963-1969

Gary Grimshaw says:
Having been born and "raised" in the greater Detroit area. As a young man I had nothing to compare The Corridor to. Myself and my friends in Lincoln Park (Rob Tyner, Kelly Martensen, Carl Schigelone amongst others) were attracted to the area because it was The Cultural Center. And man, being stuck in the downriver cookie-cutter bedroom "community" of Lincoln Park, the very idea of a Cultural Center was an irresistible magnet. The DIA, the Main Library, The Historical Museum, The Maccabees Building (home of Soupy Sales, The Lone Ranger and Ed McKenzie!)...all of these institutions, these magnificent buildings full of creative people and glorious artifacts sucked our Lincoln Park Tribe into its vortex. I was a Cass Corridor resident from 1963 to 1989, twenty-six years. I hadn't done the math until just now. Reviewing the input you have so far, all the names and places, brings back a tidal wave of memories. I hope to contribute my personal experiences over the next few months, to make connections and learn the experiences of others. I've traveled a great deal, which has made me realize the importance of Detroit and especially its cultural center, The Cass Corridor, in the grand sweep of human history.

In the Lincoln Park Tribe, I was the driver, i.e. the only one with a car. First there was the Mainliner, a 1953 Ford 2-door sedan with a flathead V-8 and 3 on the stick. When the main bearings went out I traded up to a 1956 Chevy 4-door hardtop automatic with a 265 V-8. This vehicle was the main communter between Lincoln Park and The Cass Corridor. We were looking for beatnik parties, and found them. First at The Renaud on Second St., then some basements on positively Fourth St. Suddenly driving all the way back to Lincoln Park ceased to be fun. Luckily for me I registered as a student at WSU in the fall of '63 with a scholarship from my Dad's company and enough cash in my pocket from working since I was 12 to get my own apartment. Words cannot describe how badly I wanted to get out of my parent's house in Stinkin' Park and live on my own downtown.


So here we are, a bunch of drunken teenagers from downriver looking for a beatnik party. Be careful what you ask for, for you surely will find it. The Renaud was my first touch-down in the Corridor, a very lovely party on a Friday night in 1963. Everyone there was so hip and civil, so fucking cultured, that I felt like a fool. It didn't take me long to figure out that I was no fool, I just didn't know how to act! You have to understand Lincoln Park to know what I'm saying. In Lincoln Park there are no manners, no cultures, no hipness. Plunging into the Cass Corridor was like an ice-cold shower, a wake-up call. Suddenly you are confronted with people from many different backgrounds who share a common understanding, something that you don't get right away. Set and setting. Imagine this. I am the first Grimshaw of my family to be born in America (my father was born in Toronto, his parents were from northern England and never gave up their British citizenship) and I went to elementary school in racist Dearborn and then Jr. and High School in Catholic Lincoln Park. For the record, I am neither a racist nor a Catholic. My mother Marjoy was a devout agnostic--see believed in God but detested organized religion of any sort. They were all hypocrites in her eyes, going to church on Sunday and acting the fool Monday through Saturday. Needless to say, we never went to church as a family. Knowledge was our family religion. Our house was filled with books. We talked and argued about everything. Nothing was taken on faith, nothing was taken for granted. Free expression was expected. All of this was a very fine set of values to come from, but being isolated in a Catholic ghetto cut me off from real life experiences with all of the other major cultures of the world. In Lincoln Park there are no blacks, browns, reds, yellows, jews, arabics--only white (mostly Polish) Catholics. My entry into the culture of the Cass Corridor was a revelation of the diversity of humankind. I began to learn how little I knew.


First of all I would like to shout out a hearty hello to David Snow, who I was lucky enough to hang out with on several occasions. Is there a way that all of us Cass Corridor Denizens of the Deep can share e-mail addresses? Mine is garygrimshaw@earthlink.net.

In the Lincoln Park Tribe, I was the driver, i.e. the only one with a car. First there was the Mainliner, a 1953 Ford 2-door sedan with a flathead V-8 and 3 on the stick. When the main bearings went out I traded up to a 1956 Chevy 4-door hardtop automatic with a 265 V-8. This vehicle was the main commuter between Lincoln Park and The Cass Corridor. We were looking for beatnik parties, and found them. First at The Renaud on Second St., then some basements on positively Fourth St. Suddenly driving all the way back to Lincoln Park ceased to be fun. Luckily for me I registered as a student at WSU in the fall of '63 with a scholarship from my Dad's company and enough cash in my pocket from working since I was 12 to get my own apartment. Words cannot describe how badly I wanted to get out of my parent's house in Stinkin' Park and live on my own downtown. Tune in to part 3 to learn what happened.


So getting back to the soap opera that is my life, I ended part three with the culture shock that occurred when I plunged into the Corridor. I cannot stress enough the narrowness of my life before then. I had a rich knowledge of many cultures from books, but no one-on-one. Suddenly I found myself carrying on a conversation with a black person or a jewish person for the first time in my life. It was big fun. I had done my homework, I was not ignorant, only inexperienced. It was heady. Lincoln Park became this provincial village far far away that I didn't belong in any more. I don't know how detailed I should get about the gruesome details of my life, but many of the details relate specifically to the Cass Corridor experience and I will try to confine my confessions to that subject. I had been plotting to have my own apartment since I was 13. Upon graduating Lincoln Park High in June 1963 at the age of 17, I had been accepted at Wayne State, been awarded a scholarship from my father's company (Shatterproof Glass located in southwest Detroit in the factory that was built for the Tucker Motors Corp. with the elegant top hat logo in concrete over the main entrance), and had saved up enough of my own money to live independently for a year. In the summer of 1963 I set out to find an apartment. My first choice was the first floor of a Victorian next door to the bar on the southeast corner of Second and Prentis. God, I wish I had taken that place, but my mother butted in and convinced me that I should have a room mate (she was worried about me) and I settled for a small apartment at 663 Prentis, rooming with an art major, a nice but sorta square guy who didn't appreciate my loud rock and roll and my rowdy Lincoln Park friends. Fortunately he had a girlfriend in Southfield or somewhere and wasn't home much in the evenings, so all he got to see was the aftermath. I was startled when I walked into the market on Third just south of Forest and could buy beer and wine without question (remember, I'm 17). Back in Lincoln Park we had to drive to Visger St. where we had a deal with the pumpjocky at a gas station to run next door and buy us a bag of beer with a 100% markup. Here I just strolled in and bought it myself, no questions asked! What a country. Of course, all hell broke loose then.

Stay tuned for part five.


Here are members of the Lincoln Park Tribe: