The new Burton Community Park
By Ben Falik

Last year, I went down the rabbit hole of the new Detroit Jewish News archive, as much to understand the present as the past, and found parallels that would make the mad hatter spill his tea. I’m grinning a Cheshire Cat grin and going back — now through The William Davidson Digital Archive of Detroit Jewish History — to see if it can help me make sense of a turbulent 2014…

May 6, 1994. It’s Hammer Time: Huntington Woods women organize construction of new community playground

“From May 11-15, hundreds of residents, former residents and friends will put down their legal briefs, scalpels, lecture notes and laptops and pick up hammers, rakes, sanders and power saws … When the more than 2,000 work shifts, some up to four hours, have been completed, Huntington Woods will be the proud owner of a new 14,000 square-foot playground.

“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has provided a $100,000 grant for the project. Fund raising by the Burton Community Park Committee, which generated $70,000, and matching money from the city raised the total to $240,000.”

The new Burton Community Park

August 27, 2014. Sustainable, Cutting-Edge Playscape at Burton Community Park

Incoming 2014-2015 kindergarteners, including Mr. Judah Falik, climbed on the wood playground at Burton Park at a picnic that marked the start of their time at Burton and the end of the playground’s. The new Burton Community Park has been in the works since a determination in 2010 that the wood structure had reached the end of its useful life, becoming home to “rodents and stinging insects,” as well as being the source of countless splinters.

The total cost for project is $440,000, including a $70,000 contribution from the Huntington Woods Men’s Club … “To ensure the playscape’s longetivity, the committee plans to tap specialists rather than community members to do the construction.”


May 16, 1952: J. L. Hudson’s Gets Green Light From Government on NW Center

A new era in Detroit retailing drew near when ground was broken for the JL Hudson Company’s huge regional shopping center, Northland Center …  Within 20 to 24 months, the gigantic ultra-modern shopping center, built to serve an area with 450,000 residents, should be completed, said Oscar Webber, president of Hudson’s. Hudson’s Branch store, which is the central unit of nearly 1,000,000 square feet of floor area, will be open by early spring of 1954 if, if work proceeds on schedule. The Center is designed as a group of one-story stores, shops, markets, restaurants, etc., grouped around garden courts and malls. It will be a complete one-stop center where a customer can fill every shopping need.”


Hudson’s ad from June 4, 1943

June 2, 2014. Plans In The Works For Site Of Former Hudson’s Department Store In Detroit

“SHoP Architects will be partnering with Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates to work on plans for a mix-used development on the vacant two-acre site on Woodward Avenue that is bordered by Grand River, Gratiot and Library Street in the city’s Central Business District. Hudson’s store was founded in 1881 in Detroit. The site has remained vacant since the building was torn down in 1998.”


November 5, 2014. Target to shutter 3 stores in Michigan

“Target is closing three stores in Michigan, as part of a nationwide shuttering of 11 under-performing locations, including Southfield’s Northland Mall, ‘The decision to close stores is not made lightly … In most cases, the store is closed after seeing several years of decreasing profitability,’ Evan Lapiska, a spokesman for the Minneapolis-based big-box chain, told the Free Press.”


December 15, 2014: Frozen

2014 began with 11 inches of snow in Metro Detroit on January 3. According to the National Weather Service, “Out of 120 years of data, January 2014 through March 2014 ranked as the 4th coldest January through March on record for the state of Michigan … California and Arizona had the warmest January through March on record.”


February 1, 1952: Danny Raskin’s Listening Post

“This has been such a severe winter with so great a demand on his supplies that coal and oil dealer Julius Renick had to post this sign … ‘Like Abraham Lincoln, I cannot fuel all the people all the time.’”

Sen. Carl Levin

August 1, 1969: Carl Levin Campaign HQ Turns to Art for Funds

“The Carl Levin for Council Headquarters, 1539 E. Lafayette, has been turned into an art gallery by 13 Detroit women. It will remain a gallery through Election Day, and commissions on paintings sold will help finance the Carl Levin campaign. The kickoff today will be a “Poli-Art Champagne Preview,” which also will raise funds for Levin, 35-year-old attorney who is seeking a Common Council seat in his first bid for public office.”

December 8, 2014: Levin Says He’s Going Home

Levin, who is leaving Washington after serving 36 years in the US Senate, said in an exit interview, “I know I’m not going to be doing any lobbying. I know that with the same certainty that I’m going home.” In other recent interviews, Levin has said, of all the presidents, he was closest to Bill Clinton; that he didn’t mind being described as “frumpy, balding, and disheveled”; and that a new military spending bill could bring some big wins for the state’s defense sector.

December 29, 2013: I Can’t Breathe

From Repair the World CEO David Eisner: “This year, we mourn Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, and many others who were killed in an environment of deep-seated, systemic violence in both our communities and in our country. As the news reports on young people of color who are harassed, jailed and killed, we may feel heartbroken, angry and, at times, hopeless. During this time many of us re-excavate the basis of our own complicity in America’s racial injustice: loss of urgency in working to bring change, juxtaposed with active furtherance of the privileges that life affords our families and ourselves.

“For many in Jewish communities, we are left with questions: Where do we as Jews fit into struggles against racial inequality? It’s these questions and contemplation that should catalyze our endeavor to engage the Jewish community, to serve in partnership and solidarity with people who feel these injustices every day, and to work to ensure that justice exists in every corner of our country for every person, regardless of race.”

May 1, 1942: Purely Commentary by Philip Slomovitz

“What the Jews who get stories of the sort we just recorded must learn is how to respond to the informers who bring evil tidings. They ought to be able to speak with emphasis and conviction in advising their non-Jewish friends who entertain prejudices against Negroes that the reason Jews share their bread with Negroes, fraternize with them, treat them as their equals when they are fellow professionals, is because of the sense of justice which rules our spirits and the ideal of fair play which has been handed down to us by the Prophets.”

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