It was with great sadness that I read about Detroit's recent woes. The city is in a financial quagmire and might have to sell its art to start replenishing the coffers. Art can live anywhere but what a shame that this once vibrant metropolis has to consider parting with it. 

I have always felt a strong connection to Detroit because of family ties. My auntie, "Tante Germaine" left Québec for Detroit long before I was born because her husband got a job there. I never knew him because he died way too young of heart problems. 

Uncle Al
Germaine was left with two young children to raise and eventually remarried an American with a multi syllabic Belgian name. My sister and I knew him as Uncle Al. 

A continuous stream of jokes poured out of his mouth and riotous laughter poured out of ours. My mother told me that when Uncle Al and my aunt came for a visit, Al would regularly ask me to top his beer glass. How fitting that I have a picture of him holding a bottle of beer.

Auntie did not seem to enjoy my uncle's humour. Perhaps it became stale after a while. Uncle Al said that my aunt was in love with a dead man. Makes me feel sad for Uncle Al.

I recall two visits to Detroit. 

1)  Tiny 4-year-old me slept in the car while my father drove a gazillion miles to get there. The houses were beautiful, much more elegant than those in my home town. Detroit was like being at the tower of Babel. I didn't understand a thing that was said as I only spoke French then.

2) My second visit to the Motor City was in 1965. Staying at auntie's house was okay but I had way more fun at her daughter's place. My cousin Jeanne lived with her husband in a suburb called Royal Oak. They were much older than I was, ergo their children, six second cousins, were my age or younger. Their bedrooms had replicating beds.
Onion rings!

The first time I ate them was in Detroit. I saw "recently released" movies and rolled my hips to Motown tunesI didn't want to return home but had to go back for my high school graduation.

My big toe tickled Detroit once again when, a few years ago, I went to visit a friend in Toledo, Ohio. I was anxious to cross the Ambassador Bridge in the hope of jump starting happy memories but quickly learned that sometimes the past is best left where it is within the time continuum.   

 "Pass on the onion rings."