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

Archive for August, 2006

You’re an Old Detroiter If…

Old Hudsons Building Downtown Detroit

Old Hudsons Building Downtown Detroit

Thanks to my mom for forwarding this to me. I don’t usually go for this kind of stuff, but… (Actually, Eileen from Detroit gets the credit for her users’ submitted content. Check out for more great memories!)

You took a “moonlight cruise” to Bob-Lo
with Captain Bob-Lo or went to
Edgewater Amusement Park .

You shopped at Hughes and Hatcher, B Siegel, Peck and Peck,
Himelhoch’s, Robert Hall, Crowley ‘s, Shoppers Fair, EJ
Korvettes or Federals.
You remember the trolley cars that went along Jefferson Avenue
into Detroit .

You remember the Detroit Train Station.

You remember shopping at J. L. Hudson’s
and you rode the elevators there,
which were “run” by an elevator operator.

You remember the world’s largest flag that
flew on the side of Hudson ‘s in downtown Detroit .

You remember a Winkleman’s and
Sanders store in your neighborhood.

You remember the “Big Snow”,
Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, Clarabelle,
Phineas T.Bluster,
Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring.

You remember Twin Pines Dairy
delivered milk and juice to the chute
on the side of your house and
Milky the Clown performed magic
with the magic words “Twin Pines.”

You remember the Good Humor man
in a white uniform, ringing the bells
as he drove down your street

You remember Olympia Stadium.

You remember when Vernors was made
on Woodward Ave. ,
and a bearded troll was on the bottle.

Your Mom got groceries at Great Scott,
Food Fair, Wrigley’s or Chatham .
You remember that the Giant Uniroyal Tire
now on the Ford Freeway was
a ferris wheel ride at the 1964 World’s Fair.

Your Mom saved Holden Red Stamps,
S&H Green stamps, or Gold Bell Gift stamps, and you licked them
into those little books.
Kresge’s and Woolworth’s were “Dime Stores.”

You had an uncle in the furniture business (Joshua Door).
You know who Bill Kennedy is.

You saw the Detroit Lions play football
in Tiger Stadium.

You remember Black Bart and the Faygo song. Or how about “Which
way did he go?
He went for Faygo, old fashion root beer.”

You watched Rita Bell’s!
prize movies in the morning.

You remember Jack LeGoff,
Van Patrick and George Peirrot.

You remember Milky the Clown,
Soupy Sales, Johnny Ginger, Poopdeck Paul, Captain Jolly,
Sagebrush Shorty
and maybe even Sergeant Satko Salute.

You visited the Wonder Bread Bakery
and got to take home a mini loaf of bread.

Your address had a two-digit “zone”
before there were zip codes. Detroit 19, Michigan .
You visited the incredible Christmas display shown each year at
the Ford Rotunda
in Dearborn .

You remember “Get on the right track
at 9 mile and Mack,
to get the best deal in town. Roy O’Brien…
it’s the best deal in town.”
You remember a laundry chute and
a milk chute and a coal chute.
You remember going to Detroit Edison
with your Mom to exchange burned out
light bulbs for new ones.

4 comments August 31st, 2006 by duane

The Lost Art of Block Parties

Hillcrest had the best block parties. Ever.

Everyone on the street knew each other. Every summer… usually late July, the block would put up a barricade at each end of the street, set up tables in the road and have a whole-block party. Early in the morning, our families would work on their agreed task: filling water balloons, making a dish for the potluck, getting ice for coolers, etc. The kids only had one task: clean up your bike. We would gather at one house and detail our bikes with concourse precision. It was the one day of the year that we could ride our bikes *in the street* and not get in trouble… our bikes _had_ to be clean!

Meanwhile, the adults would form into smaller groups: the gossipers, the sports fans, the cops, and the beer drinkers. Gossipers took turns telling each other the dirt, carefully avoiding subjects involving other gossipers present. Sports fans would stand around and either complain about the Tigers or rave about their indestructibility, then change gears to talk about how the lions need to do either as well or better than the Tigers come football season. The cops would start as a separate group, but eventually merge with the beer drinkers… that group was self-explanatory.

The earlier block parties had 3 distinct groups of kids. The “big kids,” “older kids,” and “us.” The big kids liked to scare, intimidate and chase us. The older kids were nice, but quite obviously not interested in being around either of the other 2 groups… the kind of other kids that were most likely to be babysitters or tutors.

Around a week before each block party, “the word” would get out that the big kids were going to “get” somebody in the BRAT Patrol. The reasons were trivial, but the excitement was priceless. Everything came to a climax early during the block party with a big kid chasing someone home and a few water balloons being used before the official water balloon toss began.

After a little mid-street bike riding, somebody’s mom would organize the balloon toss. The balloon toss replaced the open fire hydrant that traditionally accompanied the block party. However, legend says that “Crazy Kers” (a mysterious man around the corner) complained enough to the city about the loss of water pressure when we did this that it was eventually discontinued… anyway, back to the balloon toss: The kids all got a kick out of the adults that dared to participate. Predictably, the toss would become a water balloon fight and everyone would be soaked to the skin. A little more bike riding and everyone was dry enough. The kids would take turns guarding the ends of the block, glaring at confounded drivers when they approached the block party barricade. Occasionally, we would let residents in by sliding the barricade over just enough. To an eight-year-old, that’s real power: complete control over who is allowed in and out of your world.

As the sun began to get lower in the sky, dinner would make it’s way to the lines of tables set up earlier in the day. Everyone would gather, pile up food, and sit together to eat. The adults took their time, chatted, and hoped the food would make the kids sleepy. No such luck. We all knew that the block party meant we could stay up past dark… and that meant we could play “witch!”

After dinner the adults would start up card games and drink coffee (or sometimes more beer). The kids (all three groups) would gather on a front porch and set the rules for the night’s game of “witch:”

* One person starts as the witch, they will hide
* Everyone else covers their eyes and counts the magic chant:

bq. One-O’Clock, Two-O’Clock, Three-O’Clock… Rock! Four-O’Clock, Five-O’Clock, Six-O’Clock… Rock! Seven-O’Clock, Eight-O’Clock, Nine-O’Clock… Rock! Ten-O’Clock, Eleven-O’Clock, Twelve-O’Clock… Rock! Starlight, moonlight… Hope to see the witch tonight!

* Look for the witch (seeking). When found, yell, “Witch!” and try to get back to the safe zone (goal) without being tagged.
* If you are tagged, you help chase down the fleeing seekers.
* The person that found the witch is the witch next time.

Block parties made this game possible. Normally, we would have to be in before dusk. But since the whole neighborhood was outside, we were allowed to play until we were exhausted… and we did. Sometimes I think I looked forward to block parties more than Christmas or birthdays. I’ve never seen or participated in a block party like those of my youth.

2 comments August 21st, 2006 by duane

Neighborhood Map

Map of the old neighborhood.

Map of the old neighborhood.

Here’s a quick and dirty map of the neighborhood. I made it with the help of “google earth”:

Map Key:
# CJ’s House
# Mike and Ginny’s House (Ghostbusters/Track)
# Ryan and Melissa’s House (Fort)
# Christian and Duane’s House (Pool)
# Joe’s House (Tree Fort)
# The Alley (a.k.a. Woods Base 1)
# Papa and Gramm Thomas’s House (Joey’s House)
# The Hoslett’s House
# Danny and Katy’s House
# Eric’s House
# Big Kid House 1
# Big Kid House 2
# Big Kid House 3

Add comment August 16th, 2006 by duane

The Alley

During our regular adventures, we discovered that the over-grown vegetation in the alley at the end of the block made a great place to set up a “base.” We put on our best camouflage outfits, hopped on our bikes, and drove right into the bushes. I’m sure a half dozen 7-10 year-olds dressed as a special forces unit riding brightly colored Schwinns wasn’t especially inconspicuous, but we thought we were just about on par with a ninja squad. We fashioned tunnels through bushes, made an area to hide our bikes, and formulated an escape plan in case we were discovered.

Occasionally, one of the neighborhood dogs on the other side of the alley fence would discover us, bark a bit, and then be on it’s way. The real excitement happened when the people who’s garages lined the other side of the alley started backing out. We tried our darnedest to keep from being discovered. Occasionally, we would be chased off because it was “too dangerous” in the alley. However, minutes later, we would be back, planning world domination one alley at a time.

2 comments August 16th, 2006 by duane

The Neighborhood

Once of the great things about the BRAT Patrol was that each family had a different “attraction” at their house. Ryan had a fort built on 4 foot stilts, Mike and Ginny had a racetrack (initially for bikes, but later for RC cars) behind their garage… plus they hosted “Ghostbusters Central” in their garage, we had a pool, and Joe had a tree fort.

In the summer we would usually start the day with skateboarding or bike riding, then end up working on one of the forts or racetrack, then eventually cool off around mid-day in the pool. There was nothing quite like building a fort or digging a hole then jumping into the pool.

We al lived just a few doors from each other, all on the same block. That was our world. We rarely went “around the block”… especially when we were younger. It was the DMZ of the area. The overall area was better then. Not the stereotypical Detroit you hear about on the news.

Our neighbors were mostly police and firemen mixed with the average blue collar jobs in the auto industry and factories. We were all on the same schedule, starting with a 9:00 all clear to go outside and play…

Add comment August 9th, 2006 by duane

Brat Patrol

I grew up with a great group of friends on the East side of Detroit. We called ourselves the “Brat Patrol,” but were sometimes known as the Hillcrest gang.

Many years have passed since that time. Eventually, we all moved and went to separate high schools. Then all of us went to different colleges. We’ve kept in loose contact, and even had a reunion about 7 years ago. This site is an attempt to get reunited, tell our stories, and remember all of the good times we had.

The Brat Patrol Is:
* Joe Boyd
* Mike Fashoway
* Ginny Fashoway
* C.J. Peterzack
* Ryan Plunkett
* Christian Leinninger
* Duane Alan Leinninger

Add comment August 4th, 2006 by duane


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