The start of summer signaled the end of school and time to relax for most kids, not for our family. It was time to sign up for summer programs with the Recreation Department. We had the options to join a baseball team, sign up to go on bus trips to Bell Isle, the Detroit Zoo or Michigan’s Adventure and Cedar Point or a Detroit Tigers Baseball game. I was too young for most of those activities so I was signed up for day camp each week day morning for 8 weeks.
The camp was located at Ford Field in town. My Mother would drop me off at my Grandma Heatley’s home a couple of blocks from the field.
The field had plenty of room to play games and do arts and crafts. The counselors, high school students, offered a free craft project and other craft work for a nominal fee. I brought my allowance to buy leather pieces that were punched with holes to sew together with plastic lanyard cord to weave and sew crafts together. I sewed many coin purses and necklaces to attach a whistle for coaching a game.
The free activities were making figures from plaster of Paris . We would sit in the sun as the rubber molds of animals and children dried. We would carefully unroll the mold from the cast. Even if the form wasn’t perfect, the casted form could be used as chalk to write on sidewalks.
The next year, the Recreation Department and the Scouts shared a new building located in the middle of town. I was allowed to walk the few blocks to the camp.
Archery and putt putt golf was offered as well as the arts and crafts.
I loved the feeling of independence that the walk offered me.
There were two places of interest along the way down Katy Street. An ancient mulberry tree hung over the cemetery . The small tree grew from one of the grave sites. It had the sweetest berries to pluck on the way for a couple of weeks in July.
The cemetery was an old one, one of the first in the town. The monuments were fascinating to a nine year old. One of the graves had a cement crib on it. I read that two children were buried in it. On a dare, I laid down in the cement grave marker. I thought I heard footsteps approaching. I quickly got up and hurried away.
The Recreation Department had a Pet and Doll show and turtle races as special events. I took prizes for placing in the turtle race and placing first and second in different doll categories. We were given small cash prizes.
Summer was never boring for a youngster in the 1960’s in the small town of Northville.
Resting in the grave
The old graveyard beckoned me.
It’s ancient monuments were worn by time and rain.
many of the interred were young.
One grave was in the shape of a toddler’s crib ,made of cement and mortar.
The names of two babies were on the headboard.
A brother and sister that died in a flu epidemic days apart.
I laid in the bed and whispered to the dead.
“I will not forget you.”
Putting violets on the headstone, I said a prayer .