West Hildale

of the 1960s

—   —   —   —   —   Woodward Avenue   —   —   —   —   —
Hildale Kids Family Address   Address Family Hildale Kids
Jamie, Carrie, Theresa, ButchPelino571lot
Jimmy, Jenny, JoyceMcKenna551550NastasShelley, Patty, Paul, Anne, Gloria, Mary
Nancy, Ann, Harry, Tim, DeanPhilo531530Haberman 
  471450PillinGreg, Terri, Gary, Darryl, Kevin, Debbie, Kenny, Denise, Dolores
Chuck, JeffreyStevens431424  
Jimmy, KentTaylor411400DostalNancy, Billy
—   —   —   —   —   —   Charleston   —   —   —   —   —   —
Cathy, Duncan, TomWhite245244BusheyAnnette, Alan, Paulene
Mary Beth, Ricky, Diane, John, ScottMeier235234Torosian 
Rita, Carla, DawnBistany221218Orrnone
Jerry, GregZemla211210Croxon 
lot200HarringtonBruce, Barbara
Susie, Jimmy, Barbara, Billy, Tina, TommyMatthews185186KuhnMargueritte, Heidi
PeterOlshevik1??174JoityJanice, John, Judy, Joanie
Betty (Mary Ellen, Matthew), EileenMcAndrew161160Juroff 
Jerry, Barbara, Roberta, GinnyBrown151150Cooknone
Renee, Anne, GeorgeBulanda141140SaberHoagie, Debbie, Jeff, Randy
Bill, TimFrank129126HendersonBarabara
Donna, Gene, Dennis, AudreyShooltz115114WebberWinston
Brandon SandersNicoara103100SimonChip, Laurie, Terry, Tim, Susie, Kyle
Corky, Gwen, RonnieOlink 91 90Jacksonnone
EdwardKazarosian 81 80OpipariAnthony, Michael, Camilla
Chris, AlexisBeck 65 66AlesiMickey, Paul
Marge, Kevin, Nancy, Jimmy, JoeySheridan 55 54Tatanone
Philip, Melissa BokovoyEllis 41 42Brownnone
Leila, Theresa, Renee, Angie, SamiaHaddad 31 30Riccinone
Marion, Brenda, TamiKayne 19 20BoelkinsLaura, Dennis
  56KleinKorinthian, Arno, Barrett
—   —   —   —   —   —   John R   —   —   —   —   —   —
Color Key:           Grandchild = Yellow           Deceased = Red           Link = Teal

This Project


Neighborhood Friends

Hildale Visitors

Hildale Families who are in touch with this Website
FamilyArrived on HildaleDeparted from Hildale
Desmond (on Grixdale) 1972
Ellis (Bokovoy)  
Kazarosian 1974

Me and Tim Frank in front of the Sheridan's house.

Neighborhood Restaurants and Businesses

Often, we didn't have to go anywhere for food on Hildale - it came to us.   Summer always brought a little slow-moving truck with a loud speaker proclaiming, "Strawberries, strawberries, three quarts for a dollar."   Then there was the man who came up our driveway to our side door and shouted only a single word, so loud and quick that it sounded like a single syllable, "Eggman!"   He would put eggs, milk and orange juice in an insulated metal box that we kept just outside our side door.

Two establishments that were a little farther away, but still in my fond memories were just past where State Fair turned into Outer Drive.   Summer evenings we would frequently ride our bikes to the little ice cream stand on the south side of Outer Drive at Lumpkin.   The block before that, at St. Aubin, was a favorite (with me) carry-out destination.   I always liked it when my mom heeded their slogan:   "Don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delight."

The Phones

Remember the telephone exchange for our neighborhood?   Most of our phone numbers started with the letters TO which stood for Townsend.   Whenever we would tell someone our phone number, it would be "Townsend 8-3067."   In written form , it would be TO 8-3067.   Detroit had many telephone exchanges, and some of the two-letter combinations had more than one exchange.   For example, TU was sometimes Tuxedo, and sometimes Tulsa.   For a list of the Detroit phone exchanges (and it is a long list) see the Detroit Memories link on my links page.   You will have lots of fun at that website if you grew up in Detroit.

The Street

My parents lived on Steel between Puritan and Pilgrim when I was born, but moved to West Hildale when I was a one-year-old.   I lived on that wonderful street for twenty-four years.   The "West" part of Hildale's name is misleading.   Lots of people think of Woodward as Detroit's east-west dividing line, whereas Hildale only runs east from Woodward.   Actually, the real dividing line at that point is John R, so West Hildale is only two blocks long, running from John R west to Woodward, where it dead ends at Palmer Park.   The only street that West Hildale crosses is Charleston.   The house that we lived in was about six houses west of John R.   Hildale lies south of Seven Mile, with Brentwood, Hollywood, Robinwood, and Goldengate in between.   Though Hildale is now a one-way street with traffic running towards the west only, most of the years I lived there, it was a two-way street.

Of all the blocks in the subdivision, Hildale and Grixdale were the two nicest. Aside from the two duplexes on the corner of John R, Hildale consisted entirely of single-family homes.   When I was growing up, the canopy of the elm trees on Hildale made the street a virtual green tunnel.   Sadly, many of those trees were later killed by Dutch Elm Disease.   While East Hildale goes on for miles, the only East Hildale we knew as kids was the short dead-end stretch from John R to the GTW railroad tracks (we spent countless hours playing at the tracks.)   Aside from the east/west confusion, people were forever spelling the street name incorrectly as "Hilldale."   Because of that we always had to say, "That's Hildale with one L", even though it actually had two.   Our post office was 48203, located not in Detroit, but on Woodward south of Davison in Highland Park.   Anyone remember that great Sanders located on the same side of Woodward at Davison?   It was in a bank-like building and you walked through a wide lobby with counters along both sides, then down some steps to the lunch counter in a room with a ceiling that must have been 30 feet high.

Thanks to Renee Bulanda for unearthing these old editions of The Hildale News.   Wouldn't it be nice if today's kids would choose to spend their time engaged in journalism like this, rather than wasting their hours texting?

My next door neighbors, Queenie and Vahan Kazarosian were the nicest people.   Mrs. Kazarosian always had beautiful flowers growing around the house and in the back yard. Thank you to their great granddaughter, Carla, for supplying some wonderful pictures, three of which appear here.   If you look closely at the picture of Mrs. Kazarosian in the back yard, you can see a milk bottle in the milk chute next to the door.   (All the houses on West Hildale had milk chutes and many people used theirs.

I remember other gardens from Hildale, too.   Three doors down from my house Mrs. Nicoara always had snapdragons growing all the way around her house - a beautiful colorful display.   It was through her flowers that I learned that snapdragons actually snap.   That led to frequent demonstrations for other neighbor children, and to just enjoying snapping them for myself, too.

Across the street from me, Mr. Opipari had a vegetable garden in his back yard.   He grew vegetables that were to die for.   We were fortunate that he would sometimes send a bag of tomatoes to our house.   In the picture, his house appears directly behind the girls playing in our driveway.   Mr. Opipari's daughter, Camilla, would come and watch Alexis and I, when we were younger.

At my best friend, Jerry's house we built a clubhouse in the back yard.   We would frequently ride our bikes up the alleys behind Woodward on the east side, and that's where we found a bunch of wood to use for this project.   There was a granite company just a few doors south of State Fair, and they always had pile of wood behind their building.   It consisted of big square sides of boxes that protected the granite during shipping.   After asking them for permission to take the wood, we made the long walk there pulling a wagon, piled a bunch of the squares across the wagon and walked slowly home.   We made a number of such trips on a couple Sundays and had more than enough wood to construct a big cube that was roomy and big enough for us to stand up in.   Somewhere we came up with a roll of tar paper, and covered the wooden structure. Now in the neighbor's defense it did look pretty ugly.   Once the complaints started rolling in, we had to dismantle our creation and discard it, but it was fun for a short while.

Two doors down from me at Ronnie Olink's house, we would build and paint model cars, play with army men in the bushes around the house, and practice pyromaina in the garage.   We collected candle scraps of all sorts and melted them down to make new candles out of the wax.   My favorite thing was when we would make little houses out of kitchen matches, gluing them together with highly flammable airplane glue.   Needless to say, these structures were built with only one purpose in mind.   It was cool to see how the different placement of the match heads would affect the burn pattern in case one of the houses mysteriously caught fire.

My House

Here, in the living room at 65 W. Hildale stands my sister, Alexis, armed with one of her guitars.   I was always picking up either her folk guitar or classical guitar and attempting to play.   I did learn a bunch of chords, and how to play harmonics.

In the days of these photos, kids played outdoors, of course, and Lex and I were no exception.   Still, we did spent lots of time playing with our friends in the basement of our house.   We had divided the basement up into her side, where she would play with her girlfriends, and my side, where my friends and I would try to ignore them. We even hung sheets or a curtain down the middle.   Sometimes the ping-pong table would be set up and when it was, it became something to play under and also a surface to pile stuff on.

My side of the basement included the furnace, my dad's workbench, my workbench (in the picture below), and a room that we called the fruit cellar.   With all the junk that my dad brought back from his time in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army, our fruit cellar was something like a mini Silverstein's.   The store that I am referring to was a huge Army surplus store located on East McNichols.   Silverstein's was full of mechanical and electrical military devices such as radios, and bomber sights - all in standard army black wrinkle finish.   There were hundreds of bins containing electronic parts and anything else you might imagine.   I just loved going to that store - I could spend hours there.   Down in the fruit cellar, dad kept lots of parts in old El Producto cigar boxes. There was a big short wave radio, and other devices whose function I could only guess at.   I'd give anything to have saved some of the great stuff that was in that room.   While in the Army, my dad visited dozens of little islands all over the South Pacific erecting communication antennas, and building wooden silos around them so that they would be invisible to the enemy.   I especially regret that we didn't save the two boxes of cowry shells that dad had brought back.   Their small perfect shape, and their light gray and opal-like coloring made them far-and-away the most beautiful cowrys I have ever seen.

At the left of this picture are two large wooden speaker boxes which I assembled from kits.   The little electric organ and the mono power amp (with it's classic 6L6 tubes) were both Heathkits - built entirely by me.   Putting kits together was great fun.   My father taught me to solder at an early age, and I quickly became a pro.   I was proud of the "Freak Out" that I painted on the pegboard behind my workbench.   Using a cheap little plastic opaque projector, I projected it on the wall from a sticker that I had bought at the Plum Pit - a little head shop out on Gratiot past Twelve Mile.   (I used to ride my bike way out there.)   I painted my sign with black-light paints and had a four-foot fluorescent black light on the ceiling over the workbench.   That glowing sign looked awesome when the basement was totally dark.

And speaking of dark basements...   When I was really young, there was nothing I dreaded more than whenever the light bulb at the bottom of the stairs would burn out, and my mom would ask me to go downstairs into the dark basement and change it.

I've been inside every single house on West Hildale - at Halloween, at least if not otherwise.   Our house was famous at Halloween.   My dad would rig up a talking pumpkin, and as word of it spread, people would walk for blocks, or even come by car specifically to trick-or-treat at our house.   Dad would drape a sheet over a short step ladder and put a pumpkin on the top.   Under the ladder and sheet would be a speaker with a wire running into the house through the mail chute.   Mischievous dad would sit in a front window, peeking out through the curtain, microphone in hand.   It was a common sight to see young children go tearing back to their parents, who were waiting by the street, as soon as they heard the pumpkin start talking to them and describing their outfits.   When we were in our teens, my good friend, Jerry Brown, and I got into a contest to see who could come up with the most elaborate Halloween display that moved.   I remember climbing up to the top of the twin pine trees in front of our house and rigging up a rope and pulley so that a skeleton could drop down out of the trees in front of the sidewalk to our porch.   I liked to climb one of those trees a lot.   I even nailed a board across two of the branches about twenty feet above the ground so that I could sit in the top of the tree, invisible for hours, and watch what was transpiring on Hildale.   Besides my two best friends, Bill Frank and Jerry Brown, other Hildale Kids I liked to play with were:   Alan Bushey, Brandon Sanders, Tim Simon, Kevin Sheridan, Kent Taylor, John Moldovan, and Ronnie Olink.   Alex Scott, who lived on Greendale, was also a close friend.   In this Halloween photo is Alexis, Susie Simon, Paulene Bushey, Samia Haddad, me, and Kyle Simon.

The Pool

Two doors down from us towards John R, Bill and Mary Ellis moved in to the one-story ranch house.   The first thing they did was install a kidney-shaped swimming pool that was eight feet deep and had a diving board.   It took up almost the entire back yard.   Mr. and Mrs. Ellis quickly became our favorite neighbors when they gave our family a standing invitation to come swimming any time.   Already being teenagers, Alexis and I even had permission to come swimming when Mr. and Mrs. Ellis weren't home!   The only rule was that whoever went into the pool first had to use the long pole with a net to skim the pool for leaves and dead bugs.   In the summer, our family would spend entire days over there, swimming and socializing with Bill and Mary.

Occasionally, they would they invite the children from the two houses on either side of theirs to swim.   Next door to us were the Sheridans with Margie, Kevin, Nancy, Jimmy and Joey.   When they came swimming, they would bring a bunch of hockey pucks.   We would throw them in the water and try to collect them all before they reached the bottom of the pool, or we would see how many we could retrieve from the bottom at eight feet in one breath.   On the other side of the Ellis house lived the Haddad girls:   Leila (with her two kids, Carla and Albert), Renee, Theresa, Angie and Samia (Alexis's best friend.)

A countless number of cheap plastic air mats met their death in that pool.   We were always diving off the board either with or onto the air mattresses.   I liked to put two in front of the board and jump high, landing with one foot on each mattress.   We had such fun.

The Tell-Tale Pillow

I have always loved to read at bed time.   I used to stay up reading long after my parents and sister had gone to sleep.   I would read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, and I especially liked to read stories from The Omnibus of Crime.   Dad used to read to us from that wonderful collection of detective and horror stories from an earlier era.   In my bedroom on Hildale, I had a plug-in reading lamp that clipped to the wooden head board of my twin bed.   It was supposed to have a shade that clipped onto the bulb, but I would leave it off to get even more light.   I don't remember the wattage of the light bulb, but I am guessing it ran pretty hot.   One summer night - it was a Saturday - I was reading quite late with my pillow propped straight up and down against the headboard, as usual.   I fell asleep, and the pillow apparently fell sideways and rested on top of my reading light which was still on.   Later on, I woke up from a nightmare that our house was burning.   Actually, it was only my pillow that was on fire.   I quietly ran into the bathroom and stuck the pillow in the sink to put it out.   There was a little porch off the bathroom that was over the breakfast nook of our kitchen.   Ever so slowly and quietly, I opened the door to the porch and placed the pillow on top of the porch's wooden railing to dry   As I quietly closed the porch door, I was feeling pretty confident that this incident was going to pass without being detected.   The next day, Sunday, our whole family was at the pool.   All of a sudden, and in front of everybody, Mary Ellis said to me, "I see a pillow on your back porch, Chris, did you sleep out there last night?"   Everyone looked across the Sheridan's yard to our house, and there, up on the porch, sat the tell-tale pillow.   I was busted!   Immediately, mom wanted to know exactly why there was a pillow on the porch, and there was no time to think of an excuse.   This picture of my mom predates me by just a little.


A number of years back, I met with a old friend for a mini reunion over lunch at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.   It was nice to see her and all, but afterwards I felt disappointed with our meeting, and I wasn't sure why.   Later on I figured it out.   We had spent our entire time together talking about everything we had done since our college days, and not bothered to talk about the time we had shared at all.   I realized that what I really wanted to talk about was our times together - see what she remembered, and tell her what I remembered.   Heck, I could have told anybody about my kids and what I am doing now, but I could only recreate and enhance past memories with the people who were actually part of that past.

The reason I would relish the idea of a Hildale Kids reunion would be to hear others' memories of my street and my neighborhood, and the people, and stores that I grew up with.   As I hear from more neighbors, I am being reminded of oh so much.   I hope that as time goes on, more Hildale kids will find their way to this site.

The Hildale of Today

Both Hildale, and Grixdale, its neighbor to the south, have faired pretty well over the years.   Since the neighborhood streets are all one-way now, alternating directions, I frequently drive down Grixdale from Woodward to John R, so that I can make the return trip on Hildale.   It is good to see that every single house on Grixdale is occupied.   Most of the residents of both streets continue to maintain their properties.   In July of 2011, I drove Greendale, the second block south of Hildale, from John R to Woodward.   It looked pretty good.

On Hildale it appears that five or six houses are not occupied - all between John R and Charleston.   The duplex on the north side of the street at John R was boarded up a long time ago.   Others that appear to be empty are:   #20, #30, #65, #140, and #186.

A number of houses on Hildale have lovely flowers in front, and some owners have replaced much of the front lawn with garden.   These pictures from 2011 appear in order of increasing address.

I finally took a drive down East Hildale from John R to the tracks in July of 2011.   What I found was mostly grassy fields.   On the north side of the street, there are only two houses.   They are right next to each other in the middle of the block - one abandoned, one occupied.   Neither house has an address showing.   There is nothing at the corner of John R, and at the tracks is a large cinder block wall and a locked up gate leading to a construcion yard with cinder block divided bins for sand, dirt, gravel, etc.   On the south side of East Hildale is Renaissance Towing in a cinder block building at 18540 John R, an abandoned house at #68, an occupied two-story house at #158, and an abandoned house just east of that - no number showing.   One resident of East Grixdale seems to be using the lot behind on Hildale as an extension of the back yard.   At the railroad tracks, on the south side, is a large neatly-mowed field with some sort of white pipes as barricades all around it.

West Goldengate, one block to the north, has some houses that are well-kept, but also some run-down areas.

In sharp contrast to Hildale, a mere two blocks north, is poor West Robinwood - a street so devestated that it has reached a state of notoriety on the Internet.   On the block between Charleston and Woodward, sixty of the sixty-six houses are abandoned (as of 2009.)   Detroit resident, James D. Griffioen, created a panoramic photograph of each side of the street showing all of the houses.   They appear on his blog:   http://www.sweet-juniper.com/2009/04/singularity.html.

Click south or north to view the same photographs.   The photographs will look like a narrow strip, but by clicking on an icon at the right, you can magnify them to fill the screen.