Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ann Arbor Memories

Being back in Michigan over the holidays meant I must stop in Ann Arbor, my old home town, if I have a home town. I feel more attached to Ann Arbor as a hometown, now, then I used to, for many years. I've traveled so much since then. I did live there for almost 20 years, though, from age 6 till after college. I went to public schools in A2, and I also got my Bachelor's in Music from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

This list of sister cities is posted at the highway offramp from Hwy. 23, coming onto Plymouth Road. This was my part of town, which used to be the northeasternmost corner of the city. The only one of Ann Arbor's sister cities that I've been to is Tübingen, in Germany. That's another story entirely.

3006 Lexington Drive. My parents built this house, we were the first people who lived there. We moved in in late summer 1967, and they moved out in late summer 1978. I was in Europe when the family moved from A2 to Bloomington, IN; there was a plane ticket waiting for me when I got off the plane from Europe, and I immediately flew down to Indianapolis from Detroit.

I have a lot of memories from this house. Many firsts in this lifetime. Many early experiences from childhood and adolescence. When we bought the house, this was the extreme edge of town. The subdivision is called Orchard Hills, and there was nothing past it at the time. Behind the house were wheatfields, rows of trees, and other fields, as far as the eye could see. Gradually, over time, condos were built in from the other end of the field, moving towards us. I used to go out in summer and play in the empty houses while they were being built. I used to get on my bike and ride out into the countryside, long rides that could last all summer afternoon. I spent many summers shirtless, getting tanned brown as a penny, riding all over the countryside.

Now the house is cornered in. It's not the edge of town anymore, in fact it's quite a ways inside. New houses and rowhouses stretch from here past the highway crossroads, growing past the corner of town out towards Detroit.

This was an intersection in my old neighborhood, about a mile away from our house. I went by here on the way into town, and also to shop at the grocery store, and later towards college. After the Watergate scandal in the mid-1970s, this sign was stolen many times, probably by high school and college kids, as a prank, or as a memento. The cabdrivers in Ann Arbor used to call this corner "Watergate" as radio shorthand.

The School of Music, on North Campus, part of the University of Michigan. When I was in college here, the two cubes to the left were designed but not yet built. In the first cube was the Recital Hall, where many of my compositions at the time were premiered. This is still a lovely building, one of my favorites in Ann Arbor. To the right outside the frame of this image there is a reflecting pond overlooking the northern wing of the building. The windows on the north wing are designed to look like a piano keyboard; the effect is most pronounced when strolling on the other side of the pond in the evening.

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Anonymous Ed said...

Came here by way of the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

The Nixon/Bluett sign was shown on some TV show in the 70s; I think it was "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In", but I'm not 100% sure. It was a treat to drive by the sign several years ago, and realize that was the one on TV.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Hi, Ed—

I didn't know about the TV spot with the sign. I wouldn't be surprised if it were "Laugh-In," though. I think it did make the local news, once.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Swanee said...

Next time you need a shot of the intersection at Gott and Hiscock...

8:24 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

YOU just want more shots of Zingerman's. Hah.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Swanee said...

Don't need the shots. Just send Zingerman's. 8P

6:29 AM  

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