The Brat Patrol | A Long Time Ago, In a Neighborhood Far, Far Away…

What is Balduck Park?

July 6th, 2007 by duane

Balduck Park was the nearest public park to our neighborhood. During the summer, kites flew there and there was a “nature area (which we called “The Naych”) to hike and ride bikes, a hill provided some excitement and a few fields to play soccer, baseball, and football. My early memories of Balduck include an archery range, too, but I never had a chance to participate. Every 4th of July, the “big kids” would head over to the field at Balduck and launch the “good” fireworks into the sky. On the 5th, a group of us would pick over the scraps looking for cool shell casings and any remaining live fireworks. Usually, we would tape together the old casings of spent fireworks to resemble guns, swords, and rocket launchers.

The hill was a blast in the winter. We would go in small groups to sled down the hill. At one time, there were toboggan runs. They were great when iced over, but eventually grass grew in the cracks and they were removed. (Legend told of a little girl that wiped out on her sled and knocked all of her teeth out, but that was mostly local urban myth.)

Eventually, we outgrew playing war in the alleys and backyard bushes and moved to the Nature Area. We would have epic hunter/hunted battles. Days were spent building forts and traps throughout the single acre wooded lot. We mostly just sat there in our rigged-up base talking and eating lunch.

When were a little older (maybe between 12 and 16), we would venture to the Nature Area at night, dressed head to toe in military camouflage. Although it started as a chance to play “witch” (kind of like tag at night… more on that later) in the woods, it quickly evolved into “hey-let’s-scare-the-crap-out-of-drunk-highschool-kids.” Jocks and their prey would hang out at the picnic benches just outside of the Naych swigging on ill-gotten booze and ghetto-taxed beer. We found this practice despicable (at the time). So, what else was there to do other than shoot the drinks off of the table with BB guns and slingshots? Most of the time, this would send the offenders scattering, yelling all the way to their cars. (Balduck had a reputation as a dangerous place because a body was found behind the hill in the early 80’s.) Rarely, the letter-jacket wearing tough guys would venture into the woods to prove their manhood. Mistake.

By this point, the majority of us were 14, 15, and 16 years old. Some of us had a few years of high school wrestling experience and were in the best shape of our lives. The jocks would enter the Naych. 1 or 2 of the crew would then cover the entrance with a big branch of leaves. Then the biggest of the bunch would drop from the trees directly in front of them… dressed in full combat gear. Drunk and scared out of their minds, the Jocks would run back towards the entrance that no longer existed (once they figured it out and screamed “they’re trying to trap us… we’re going to die!”), freak out and turn around to run down a random path. At that point we usually uncovered the entrance and snuck around trying to find them without revealing our location. Awesome.

One time, however, they must have called the police, because Detroit’s finest showed up with a spotlight and some flashlights (on a night that we didn’t scare any drinkers). Although very scary, we managed to escape undetected. A huge rush, yes… but also pretty stupid. At around 6’ 2” and 180 lbs, I might have looked pretty scary dressed in camo, to both a jock and the cops.

As we grew older and spent more time at school or driving around with our newly earned licenses, we visited Balduck less and less often. I still remember that place very fondly. Every time I look out my window at the woods around our house, I think “hey, that would be a great place to build a fort and play witch.” Someday, I might do just that.

Share some memories:

Entry Filed under: Balduck Nature Area,Games We Played,Getting Into Trouble,Good Times,Remember When…

10 Comments. Add your own...

  • 1. MOB | March 26th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    How funny! I have almost the same memories of growing up there! Right down to playing war in the Naytch! We must have been neighbors. Good times.

  • 2. duane | March 30th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Hi MOB! I grew up on Hillcrest, between Chandler Park and Mack Ave. I spent the first 14 years of my life at that house with a great group of friends. That’s what this site is all about: growing up with great friends in Detroit during the 80’s! Thanks for commenting!

  • 3. mike prusinski | April 23rd, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    dont forget the ice rink or the warming house the parks and rec people sue and leo!

  • 4. tom gainer | February 15th, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    balduck was great….seemed like a HUGE mountain back in the day…best memory was in the 70s when thousands of kids partied there, on summer nights, and the cops had a field-day clearing us all out of there!

  • 5. Brooke Young | July 10th, 2010 at 7:12 am

    i used to play archery but quit this sport after i got some elbow surgery.-.”

  • 6. Katelyn Henderson | August 11th, 2010 at 6:30 am

    it is actually hard to master archery, it took me 2 long years to be a master of archery *

  • 7. Pretty Women · | November 7th, 2010 at 11:16 am

    my girlfriend likes to be an archer and she is great both in Archery and Volleyball ~

  • 8. Lward | July 12th, 2012 at 5:33 am

    I used to hang out in a buddies tree fort on hillcrest when i was in high school and during the 2000’s we shot massive display shells up to 8” there with my friends. Unfortunately after a few years we eventually had to move on because the crowd grew too large and ruined it. In 2006 someone pulled a gun at the park before our display and it got shut down by the police. We still snuck back over with a small show, which featured a colorful salute cake as the finale but that was the end of the amazing 2 decades of balduck fireworks which featured rarities such as a zigzag cake and 36 shot 2.5” titanium salute with silver tails cake. i dedicate this post to my good friend John Wolfe, who is sadly no longer with us. Peace brother

  • 9. Lward | July 12th, 2012 at 11:35 am

    P.S. I wonder if anyone resserected that show since the michigan fireworks law passed? Id love to drive by there some 4th and check it out. It was always supervised by the local firefighters and absolutely spectacular

  • 10. duane | July 12th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Wow! I remember going to the Balduck on the 4th to see the shows! In the 80’s it was mostly high school kids (we called them the “big kids”) setting off bottle rockets and small mortars. By the 90’s it had grown to more elaborate displays. We used to visit the park the day after and look for unspent bottlerockets, roman candles, etc.

    I was pretty good friends with John as well. We were in Boy Scouts together and he went to school with one of my very good friends, Michael. We hung out a bit in high school, but since we went to different schools, it was much less often as time went by. I was very sad to hear of his passing.

    I know this is a reach… but I was best friends with a “L Ward” in high school… might you be that same person? I didn’t want to creep you out and send an email unsolicited if I’ve made a mistake…

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