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November 19, 1978 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-11-19
This is a tabloid page

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Page 4-Sunday, November 19, 1978-The Michigan Daily
I us t a country.

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Nove

small towni
(Continued from Page 5)


lettered "Deere" of "Ford." They do
not smile. The people are not so much
unfriendly as cautious.
Chelsea, then, is a village caught not
so much between old and new as
betw''een farming and industry. Many of
the farms are now tilled by part-time
farmers, who the rest of the time work
in the factories, such as the Dana
Corporation, or the Federal Screw
But there have been other changes.
Professional people have moved here,
bringing their families; now 30 to 40 per
cent of Chelsea High School graduates
go on to college, and the three
agriculture courses offered there are
underenrolled. But the people accept
change grudgingly. "I've lived here for
ten years and I am still an outsider,"
one resident said. "Everyone here is
related to each other, and unless your
family was raised here, you're an
On the other side of 1-94, ten miles
down a road lined -with centennial
farms is Manchester, every rich man's
dream of a little place in the country.
GM and Ford executives have migrated
here, and on the main road doing 55 you
are passed by Cadillacs and an
occasional Mercedes doing 80.
one mile from end to end, and
it is bisected by the Raisin
River. For the first 20 minutes it is the
most beautiful small town you have
ever seen; everything is spotlessly
clean and perfectly maintained. Then
suddenly you are thinking wildly that
you hve taken a wrong turn and are
visiting Greenfield Village. It's all a bit
too adorable: the village is almost
aggressively quaint. All the storefront
signs are written in Old English letters.
Although none of the stores is actually
called the 'Olde Village Shoppe,"
somehow you can't stop looking for it.
You get the distinctly queasy feeling
that the entire-village was created by
an elite group of New York interior
decorators during a fit. of early
This village does not exist for the
people who live there, but for those who
visit it. The one block of stores has two
gift shops, a florist, a combination piz-
za parlor/bakery, an art gallery, two
banks, and a hardware store which
sells Cuisinart food processors and
copper souffle dishes.
Manchester has only 1300 residents,

FEW PEOPLE ARE likely to
notice the three exits strung
out along I-94 just west of
Ann Arbor. To thosekon their way to
Chicago, of even to Jackson, the small
signs indicating the way to the villages
of Dexter, Chelsea, and Manchester are
unlikey to register except as a possible
place to take a leak or eat a hamburger.
But past the gas stations and down the
roads lined with farms are
communities struggling with a
predicament Ann Arbor has long since
passed: how to reconcile the influx of
city-bred newcomers with historically
agricultural, conservative com-
The Dexter exit leads you past the
obligatory gas stations and the
McDonald's which lends to Dexter its
own dubious stamp of civilization. You
turn left and begin driving down a
stretch lined with ranch-style, three-
bedroom, station-wagon-in-the-
driveway homes on the right, and
scattered farmhouses with peeling
gingerbread woodwork; sagging barns
sit disapprovingly on the left, like upper,
class ladies of the Civil War genteely
starving and ignoring the prosperous
The houses become middle-ground
wooden bungalows, the speed limit
slows from 55 to 45, to 35, and finally to
25 as you drive down the small hill
leading to Main Street.
Look quickly; the business district is
no more than a city block long,
consisting of a Dairy Queen, a bank,
several small stores, the 7M's Bar
where a hand-written sign in the
window reads simply "FOOD," an IGA
supermarket, the YOUR Beauty
Parlor, and Monument Park.
Monument Park, where veterans
make speeches on Memorial Day and
where the high school students come to
spray-paint the rock dedicated to
Samuel Dexter, occupies a tiny corner
between Main and First streets. This
Donna Debrodt is associate editor
of the Sunday Magazine. Daily
phQt4gbY Wqyw@ Qap,.

By Donna Debrodt

also is the site of what is locally known
as "The World's, Smallest Police
Station"-a brick building of
dimensions around 10 by 12 feet.
Actually the Washtenaw County
Sheriff's dispatch station for the
western part of the county, it contains a
desk, the dispatcher, a'nd the 14 officers
who report here-presumably not at the
same time.
Out Baker Road is the Dexter Bowl
'N' Bar, where the local leagues gather
nightly to drink beer, bowl with their
co-workers from the Chrysler plant, or.
Unicolor, or from the two local

stamping plants, and reminisce about
the big Saline game in '64, or maybe it
was '65.
BUT THIS GROUP of Dexterites,
the workers and the farmers,
is slowly dying out. A vil-
lage official describes the factions
in the village: "Some of the older
people think of it as 'their town,' they
know everything that has happened
since God knows when and they don't
accept the newer people. There are a lot
of transients here, quite a few rentals.
College students are moving here to

escape the high prices in Ann Arbor,
and the older people don't like it a bit."
Another resident says resignedly,
"Dexter has-become a bedroom suburb
of Ann Arbor."
The village is continually changingas
more and more Ann Arbor expatriates
migrate here. A 250-home subdivision
six miles from the villge has brought
the children of professionals, of
professors, doctors, and insurance
agents into Dexter schools, and their
influence is obvious; Dexter students
have longer hair, many smoke
marijuana, and there is an ever-present
group hanging out and smoking
cigarettes across the street near the
cemetery which contains the remains
of Dexter's founding fathers.
The school itself has benefitted from
the reconcilation of the old and new
residents; 50 per cent of graduates now

of panty hose you don't need. The store
sells copper bracelets for arthritis; the
Zig Zag rolling paper dispenser is dusty
and shoved behind a half-opened carton
of Marlboros.
Down the hill from the shops are the
factories: the tall clock tower of the
Central Fibre Products Co. which
chimes the hours, dwarfted by the six-
story high storage tanks of the Chelsea
Miling Company, painted a prim
white, with the almost whimsical red
and blue lettering along one side,
"JIFFY" Mixes.
is the office of the village
newspaper, the Chelsea Stan-
dard. The building is barnlike and dark,
stained with 100 years of printing ink
and grime. Antiquated printing presses
and linotype machines roll out the
eight-page weekly, printing out the

front page headlines, "Gridders Roll
Over Dexter at Homecoming" and
"Exchange Student from Norway
Living with Robert Ward Family." Five-
foot stacks of yellowing papers from
past decades stuff the rooms. There are
three people in the building on a
Tuesday morning: a man working a
type-setting machine, another hunched
over a desk between stacks of paper
coughing dismally, and a woman who
take your quarter for the 15Q paper and
fishes the change from a coffee can
with a hole in the lid.
But outside the air is cool and clean
and the sun splashed over the houses
and the stores and has a hilarious time
with the Jiffy storage tanks. The men
who drive by in their pick-up trucks do
not whistle at a strange female walking
down the street. They merely honk
their horns and briefly lift the brims of
their hats which are red or blue and are

whose median
year. A local b
thing which i
being non-pre
Protestant wo
But as you
used car lot, ti
school parkin
vette sitting in
house in town
capitalist wor
The people
remarkably fr
introduces hir
for a while. T
real estate a
yourself turnin
rent, and ther
fix you up wi
player at Feri
you two would
But money I
town. Chris a
the Black Shee
different kind
complete with
a decaying bui
year and turn4
Association fc
home of the
Theatre. Whi
theatre does I
tavern, the ere
far more altri
expected in thi
Although th
financial succ
consistently in
It presents big
Watson, Don \
during its sea
tant function I
young group o
sons which m
tory Theatre.
majority of pi
itself, this sm
has attempted
workshops in t
shows for chil
for the Manche
But accepts
although now
has the supp
patrons, the F]
Repertory The
village concer
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that all the ma
were gay. The
company me
their pay in h
agent caused
were living ab
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residence. Bu
tinued to surv
has continued
these villages
old locals and
to preserve a t
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page, headli
Schumaker to
and "Open B
Wedding Ann
inside are for
paper itself cc
either the Chel
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leads of Dexte
room for "o
cozy dichotom
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another questi
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dream houses
tinue to push w

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