2006.03.01 Hey, Detroit, need a sister?

Written by David Green.


When Morenci school superintendent Kyle Griffith was a classroom teacher, he would have students work on a “sister city” project. The assignment was to locate a city anywhere in the world with a population similar to Morenci’s and then dig in to learn about the place.

Mhlambanyatsi, Swaziland, Höfn, Iceland—most anyplace could become Morenci’s sister city for the sake of a social studies project.

With that background in his head, I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Kyle recently suggested that Morenci could become a sister city to Detroit. It might look really nice on the city limits signs: “Morenci, Sister City to Detroit.” Or maybe just Little Detroit.

OK, now you know what got Kyle thinking. First came the recently boarded up building downtown, then came “Little Detroit” spray painted across the plywood. It’s not a very attractive situation and Kyle was trying to find some humor in the predicament. Make some lemonade out of the lemons, as the old saying goes.

Then things seemed to take a turn for the strange. Just look at the recent police report. It wasn’t just the rush of domestic assault charges and suspicious situations on Main Street. There were items never before entered into the logbook, such as a wild cat found in a house and a disorderly parent at a wrestling match.

Then came the report to top all others. I was just finishing breakfast when I heard the call over the police scanner: Unresponsive subject found in a Dumpster at Morenci Deli.

“We really are becoming Little Detroit,” my wife remarked.

Before I had my coat on, officer Don Thompson was on the radio reporting that the unresponsive guy was only sleeping, but even that is a too big city for us. No one in Morenci spends a winter night in a trash receptacle to keep warm. That only happens in Little Detroit.

Then it struck my personal life. First came the Stranger in the Kitchen dream. I stepped from the bathroom to the kitchen in a pitch black night and my hand encountered a person. Back in real life, my wife reported feeling my pelt stand on end.

Next was the Dark Force in the Bedroom. I never did figure that experience out. It was some dark thing moving across the bedroom toward the bed. Maybe it wasn’t a dream at all.

Finally, I was chased in a dream by a menacing man who was angry that I wouldn’t let him through the fence into Dunbar’s Used Cars so he could reclaim his vehicle. I ended up at the police station where a two old friends were having their groceries checked by—he’s back again—Officer Thompson.

“He can’t do that!” I said. “He’s a policeman!”

We’re drifting too far into the lemons here. Back to the creation of a sweet drink.

Kyle knows I’m always looking for a new festival theme. “Town and Country” just doesn’t do it, not the way Adam Johnson’s “Quillback Carpsucker” theme could work or my wife’s “Sleepy Little Town” festival.

But Kyle has really struck it rich with our new sister city and “Little Detroit Days.” After consulting with some natives from the big city, I’ve learned that any celebration must include Vernor’s floats and coney dogs. The Pub could become our little Greektown and R.D. could light the cheese on fire and yell “Opa!”

Kwame Kilpatrick will make a fine grand marshal for our parade, riding beside our own mayor, Kwame Sutherland. We can fashion some sort of People Mover (or maybe a Folks Pusher) to shuttle guests from downtown past our proposed Creekfront development to the park. Don’t forget the hydroplane races on the Bean (or the sewage lagoons).

My friends say we need some sculpture, something to match the Joe Louis fist. For Little Detroit, I suppose, just a finger will do. They say we need a skyline and I tell them we have it if you just lie flat on the sidewalk and look up. Casinos, Bingo halls—is there really much difference?

They say we need something fun like a contest for shooting out street lights and I tell them maybe this is going too far. We’ll change the school mascot to the Pistons or the Fuel Pumps, but we have our limits.

I should point out that Detroit already has a sister city, but with our wholesome image, we’ll be able to push the city of Dubai out of the way.

– March 1, 2006 
  • Front.cowboy
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  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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