Thanksgiving: Memories of being Raised in Highland Park, MI

Candler Ave. Between Brush and Oakland

The Bible says “In everything give thanks”. As I reflect upon growing up in Highland Park, almost all of my memories were positive memories.  Yes, there were the couple of times, I was attacked at school and once in walking home from HPHS.  Yes, there were some parental disagreements that I didn’t enjoy hearing.  Yes, there was the death of my grandma.  However, when I look at the whole picture, I thank God that He gave me the family that He did as well as giving me the opportunity of growing up in Highland Park.  Since reconnecting with several Highland Parkers via Facebook, I have thought more of my past. This has helped me to see the sovereign hand of God in my life even when I didn’t know Him as I was growing up.  Here is a list of things for which I am thankful concerning my life growing up in Highland Park.  I am thankful for:

1. A loving family who always provided for my needs.

2. The many friends that I had growing up

3. The schools that I attended and the teachers that taught me

4. The opportunity to attend Highland Park Community College while in high school so that I could finish college early.

5. The alley beyond my house where I spent untold hours playing with my friends.

6. Ford Park where I would spend hours each day during the summer.

7. The tennis courts at Ford Park where I learned to play tennis

8. The bike rides I could take around the Detroit area because HP was centrally located.

9. The opportunity to go to all the stores on Woodward Avenue

10. Little League football (I enjoyed the four years that I participated)

11. The Highland Park Recreation Department fast pitch baseball leagues for young people.

12. My first experience with fast food at the Red Barn.

13. The opportunity to interact with people who were from different backgrounds.

14. The many field trips that we took while at school.

15. The lessons that I learned about myself

16. The desire that God put in me to read His Word all the way through (at 16) though I didn’t yet know Him as my Savior.

17. A little church called Coltman Memorial Baptist Church (Located on Hamilton near Puritan in a building which was a funeral home) which I attended after I was saved (19 years old) and where my Mom accepted the Lord and was baptized.

18. The great times I had with my involvement in the National Honor Society at HPHS.

19. The opportunity to play on the tennis team at HPHS.

20. The Victor Bakery and the fresh-baked french bread.

21. Red Hots, which was a great place to eat a Coney.

22. McGregor Library (especially the stereo scopes)

23. The impromptu baseball games we would play under the big tree at Ford Field.

24. The tree-lined streets that were like a tunnel of trees.

25. Eighth Grade camp at Camp Rankin.

26. The friends with whom I have I reconnected on Facebook as well as new friends that I have made from HP via FB.

I could continue to list more.  Yes, I have several regrets from my years in Highland Park.  There are things that I wish I had done, and there are things that I wish that I had never done.  I thank God for His mercy and forgiveness and that my sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. I thank God that I can be called an Highland Parker and for all of His blessings of my childhood and teen years in Highland Park.

16 thoughts on “Thanksgiving: Memories of being Raised in Highland Park, MI

  1. Mark, this is beautiful. Your memories brought back a flood of my childhood memories as well. I will follow your blog.

    • Thanks for your comment. We all have a lot of memories of HP. In the future, I do hope to get input from other Parkers. My desire is to make this a record of the Highland Park we knew while growing up.

  2. This is awesome. I grew up in Highland Park and moved back last year. Its such a joy to hear former Parkers still lifting up this great city.

    • Kimberly, thanks for your comments. I am looking forward to writing some more posts on my years in Highland Park (1955-1975) Eventually, I will be asking for input because there are some things that are foggy in my mind.

  3. Mark, your list is amazing. I would add that I’m thankful that HP was

    1. A city where so many people tried to make it an exceptional city, really one of the best cities in the country.
    2. A historical place. If you understand the history of HP, you understand the history of the United States.
    3. A great place to be a kid because of the excellent schools and the way the whole neighborhood watched out for all the kids.

  4. Mark, I so enjoyed reading of your memories of HP. Often times I float down memory lane reminiscing with my life long friends from first grade (Mrs. Mann class) at Cortland school. Those days growing up in HP (1965 -1980) were truly some of the best days of my life. I often liken it to a Mayberry RFD town.
    I am thankful for many of the same things you listed, McGregor Library, playing in the alleys, Red Barn, Sear Roebuck and the other stores along Woodward, Camp Rankin, my many friends. I’ve always been connected to it, my dad still lives there in my childhood home. I love that place!
    Thank you for sharing – once a Parker…

    • Effie, thanks for taking the time to read my posts, as well as writing some comments. I have enjoyed writing some of my memories of Highland Park. I lived there from the day of my birth (1955) until 1976. I hope to write about eating out in Highland Park, which will include Red Barn, the Clock, and Kow Kow. Also, I have lots of memories of Sears, Kresges, Neisners and Fromms.

  5. I am a Highland Parker, too!! It was a most wonderful place to grow up in during the fifties and sixties. I didn’t realize how blessed I was. I had wonderful parents, neighbors, community, and an excellent education. I grew up on Tennyson Avenue between Brush and Oakland. Thank you for creating this blog! I love the photo of Woodward Avenue, with Sears and the Ford buildings.
    Thank you!

    • Thanks for reading my post. Yes, HP was a great place to grow up. I was raised between Oakland and Brush as well, but in the northern part of the city on Candler Ave. I graduated in 1973 from HPHS.

  6. Wow Mark you sure did bring back some memories of Highland Park. I grew up there and had the best time as a kid playing a lot of baseball at Ford Park. I also had a brother that worked at H&Rs in the 70s.

  7. That was so beautiful. I had forgotten Highland Park was a city of trees. Every street was lined on both sides with big beautiful trees. Once per summer the city would come thru and give us a warning and then they would spray those trees with a bug spray to keep the trees healthy. When they stopped it caused tree disease and one by one we stopped spraying them and started losing them. But I loved the trees in Highland park. Your street looked a lot like all the streets. Home that were built for families, ally’s for trash and short cuts and a way to get into your garage. We didn’t have side drives because our garage entrance was from the ally. Allies were safe then. All the kids used them for short cuts and to play dodge ball, and basket ball back there. But then the play grounds were full of that stuff for us so we could just run to the playground for that to. I loved your memories. Things were not perfect but they were good.

    • Yes, I now remember when they sprayed the trees. I had forgotten this. Yes, as you probably read in my post about alleys, I also enjoyed spending a lot of time playing in the alleys. Not only were the alleys safe, but they were also clean. The people at Parks and Recreation also did a great job!

  8. Hello from another Highland Park ex-pat. I was reading about the trees and I clearly remember the year the oak trees got “blight” because the city quit spraying them. 1968.

    I also remember the alleyways but our house was fancy and had a side entrance from the street to the garage as well as the alleyway entry. I remember the trash trucks driving down the alley on pickup day and that our dog went nuts when they reached in for the cans. The trashmen used to laugh at her and sometime tossed her a bone. Every year near Christmas, my grandmother would greet the men one trash day morning with a Christmas card stuffed with some cash, and she would thank them for their devoted service to our community. My grandmother owned her home at 33 Tyler Avenue for 50 plus years. The grand post office was on the corner at Woodward and I spent many hours of my youth running up and down those marble steps.

    The YM and YW were across the street. Each year there were torches lit on some sculpture at the Y to commemorate some event (I think it was to raise money for the organization) and we couldn’t wait for that ceremony. We couldn’t attend because we were Catholic and of course, the Y’s were run by the Protestants – but we would stand on the corner with googly eyes just waiting for the big flame to appear.

    From McGregor Library, to the Vernor’s plant, to Sanders Bakery, Commonwealth Bank, the Ford Plant and the testing grounds, Cunningham Drugs, Desmond Funeral Home, St Benedict’s Church and School, Ivanhoe’s Market, the bridge over Davidson Freeway, Sears & Roebuck with their world famous toy department, Ford Field Park for tennis, baseball and ice skating, the annual parades, Highland Park Hospital and the scream of the ambulances heading there, the Dunkin Donuts at the city line – every memory of my childhood in Highland Park is filled with the lights and the sounds of the little city. Most of my memories are pure bliss. Until the riots, which came and ruined everything.

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