Monday, October 10, 2011

Allen Park Historical Museum

One of the happiest surprises on my recent trip to Michigan was the discovery of the Allen Park Historical Museum, a converted farm house built in 1888, located on Park Ave. in a residential neighborhood. Most of the artifacts in the museum are scattered around the house and belonged to the family who originally lived there.

The museum is a work in progress. It needs some funding support and many volunteer hours to get this place into shape. It has a showcase filled with local police and firefighter memorabilia, there's some interesting military gear, some vintage clothing and furniture, and some rare children's toys, long unused.

The docent of this museum is the great granddaughter of the original owner of the house, who built it during the Victorian period. To give some historical context about the era, this farm house was built the same year as the Jack the Ripper killings in London's East End.

My family moved to Allen Park, a suburban community fifteen miles outside of Detroit, in 1962, the year I entered Allen Park High School as a sophomore. I only lived there for three and a half years before moving to the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area, yet I list this place as my hometown.

Recently, I've reacquainted myself with the city and some of my former high school classmates on Facebook and have enjoyed interacting with people I haven't seen or heard from in over forty-five years.

Life and time have separated us, but experience is bringing us back together. Many of us have become parents and are now grandparents; we have prepared, survived, and retired from our careers; and we now have time for other people and for ourselves.

We are lucky in our generation, which has seen more than its share of turbulent history, and we mourn for our family, friends, and colleagues who have passed into the great beyond. I find myself caring about people I barely knew back in the day, and that pleases me.