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October 13, 1974 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-10-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

editors:
laura berman
howie brick
contributing editor:
mary long

inside:

Sundciy

magazine

page four-books
page five-sally
fleming
page six-week in
review

Number 6 Page Three Octobe
FEATUR

er 13, 1974
sES

A local miniature melting pot:
The Child Care Action Center

By MARY LONG
ADRIAN FLEW into the Child
Care Action Center and ran
about like a little rag doll ready to
come apart at the seams. Clutch-
ing a fistful of bright autumn
leaves, she careened in for a crash
landing next to her classmate Uri.
Uri regarded her with startled blue
eyes for only a moment and then
proudly displayed the project he
was working on -- a book about
donkeys, being written in brown-
crayoned Hebrew with the help of
his teacher, Naomi Davidson.
The child's big eyes blossomed as
she watched the adult crayon the
story on cardboard. Uri rushed
imaginatively on in Hebrew. Naomi
paused from her lettering to ex-
plain to Adrian that Uri was from
Israel and spoke another language.
Adrian looked solemnly at Uri. Uri
nodded grandly at Adrian.
"I'm from Canada" a boy named

Christopher called out, not wishing
to be outdone.
* * *
It is almost impossible to write
about the Child Care Action Center
located in the School of Education
without sounding corny. The room
is bright and filled with sun, there
are radiant smiles, lavish doses of
tenderness, warm hugs and kisses.
The camaraderie of the staff has
to be seen to be believed. Tempera-
ments, inflated egos and hidden-
dagger glances are nowhere to be
seen.
'THE CENTER'S philosophy is to
give to children a multi-ethnic
and cultural curriculum and that
they will strive to create an en-
vironment that does not reinforce
stereotyped sex roles.
Indeed. On the left side of the
room are several old mattresses
and leaping into them and into the
waiting arms of Center volunteers

are, one following another, a black
child, two young sisters from India,
a Japanese boy, an Israeli and the
child of Mexican parents.
Perhaps initially, there is a
temptation to believe the scene be-
longs only in the window of the
Logos bookstore. But the sincerity
is not to be denied and a second
look confirms the contentment of
the children. Everything works. Be-
lieve it or not.
The Center first opened in July
of 1970 under the direction of a
steering committee of University
student volunteers and local par-
ents. It is open throughout the
year on all days the University is
in session, with a total of about 50
children from 2%/ to 6 years of age
enrolled in the program. Almost all
the children come from homes of
University students, staff or facul-
ty.
PARENTS BEGIN dropping their
children off before eight in the
morning. On this particular day, a
tall, rangy man in an athletic let-
ter jacket is followed by an Indian
woman in a chiffon-like sari and a
professorial type wearing a blue
suit and an incongruous green
Army backpack, who called after
his son: "OK, Michael, I'll see you
tonight." Then, as the child scam-
pered off without a backward
glance, the father continued to call
out in a voice not entirely free of a
hurt abandonment: "Michael, I'll
see you tonight then. Michael. Hey,
Michael!"
Michael, windbreaker jacket al-
ready half off his shoulders, was
heading for the "Get Together"
room where teacher Naomi was
reading a story about a curious
monkey named George.
Davidson, a graduate of the Uni-
versity's School of Education, is a
teacher gifted with a remarkable
lack of self-consciousness in relat-
ing to children. The story telling
circle was tight with enthusiasm
and attention. Enchant-
ment. That's what she was selling
and everyone was buying it. Chil-
dren jockeyed for prime positions
near her, many placing a hand on
her arm or knee to feel her close-
ness.
The monkey escaped policemen,

went to foreign countries, was
thrown in jail, and, for a finale,
drifted off into the sky holding
tightly to a bunch of multi-colored
balloons.
AS THE STORY ended, a little
girl half-rose from the lap of
one of the Center's volunteers to
question prudently: "Wasn't he
tired?"
Standing by three hamster cages
Davidson said that the absence of
fear in a teacher-child relationship
was very important. "I don't want
the kids to be afraid of me," she
said as three children vied for her
attention. "I would hate for them
to not attempt something because
of fear. Although, actually, they're
really so much more uninhibited
than I am. They help me a whole
lot - help me to be more honest,
for one thing. It's real therapy for
me."
Uri and Jeffrey were arguing
over the possession of some wood
pieces and soon were going at each
other like bear cubs. A volunteer
separated them and both were cod-
dled.
"There's really no punishment,"
Davidson explained. "We try to
give the children a reasonable un-
derstanding of the situation. And
we try to have them resolve their
problems amongst themselves -
without intervention. We let them
fight it out to a certain extent. It's
too easy for them to depend on
adults when they really are very
capable of figuring things out for
themselves."
VOLUNTEER MARGARET Myers,
21, is an LSA student trying to
decide if she will choose teaching
for a vocation. "I always under-
estimate these kids," she said,
catching a whiffle ball tossed at
her by a child in red overalls.
"Sometimes I look at Naomi and
see how great she is with kids and
I think maybe I should let someone
so capable take care of them. But
I love them and the freedom they
have here is tremendous. They
really are urged to cooperate rather
than compete with other."
A quick stumble over an inner
tube brings you to the table where
teacher Steve Brede is labeling
boats and houses and towers the

children have made from wood
scraps. Brede refers to the children
only as "people."
"They aren't taken seriously," he
said, pausing to lavishly praise one
child's wood and egg-carton boat.
"They are exploited - emotionally,
economically, in many ways. The
attitude should be that they can
think for themselves at all ages."
Watching a black child and a
blue-eyed blonde dipping paint
brushes into Welch's orange juice
cans, the question was obvious -
was the attempt to abolish racial
and sexual stereotypes a success-
ful one?
"IT WORKS AND IT doesn't,"
Brede said honestly, spreading
his hands like a balance. "We have
these children for eight hours a
day or less and much of what we
do may be undone at home or else-
where. There are four teachers,
two men and two women, and. we
are still trapped in defined roles.
It's very difficult to break out of
them. Racism is kept at a mini-
mum, but there's still a problem
because our teachers are all
white."
These aren't the only obstacles
the Child Care Action Center faces.
They have waged an unsuccessful
four-year battle with the Univer-
sity in an attempt to receive fund-
ing. The Center is self-supporting,
funded entirely on enrollment fees.
Currently in debt, the Center

Doily Photo by STUART HOLLANDER
has been forced to make a cut-back
in staff, and money for supplies or
activities is low.
But Elaine Rubin, the Center's
manager, is confident. "The center
will be around for a long while. It's
important that we be here. In
many cases, we fill an urgent need:
And we're important to a child's
emotional development. We really
try to understand why a child feels
something and to be sure that they
know the center is a safe place to
have those feelings."
BREDE, STANDING in front of a
p a i n t e d white bed sheet
splashed in primary colors, with
"Jenny" written boldly in black
across a red and yellow sun, nod-
ded in agreement and said of the
children, "They are open about ex-
pressing emotions. And they form
concepts about everything. They
put together what they know,
almost in a magical way. You can't
trick them. They can always pick
up on it. You have to let them
come to trust you. Any deception
shows up."
How did he manage to gain this
trust and convince children of his
truthfulness?
He grinned a smashing grin and
wagged his head at the question.
"By never lying to them" he
said.
Mary Long is Contributing Editor to
the Sunday Magazine.

Daily Photo by STUART HOLLANDER

s

Krazy
By STEPHEN SELBST
HIS NAME IS Jim Schafer but
everyone calls him Krazy Jim
for no apparent reason. He cer-
tainly doesn't look crazy.
He is the man who runs Krazy
Jim's, the long-established ham-
burger joint on Division near Mad-
ison that features his own inven-
tion, the cheap and sloppy "Blim-
pyburger."
His hair is short and slightly
curly, his face is square and
tanned, split in the middle by a
pair of black wire rim glasses. He
wears an aquablue suede jacket,
navy corduroys and ankle high
golden brown boots, whose round
toes are slightly scuffed. Hardly
the stuff of lunacy. Why then the
strange nickname?
Most madmen draw attention to
themselves. Jim seems anxious to
duck it; nonetheless he agrees to
the interview and leads me through
the labyrinth of small rooms in the
back of his restaurant and out into
the alley behind. There he slouches
atop the fender of his red 1955 MG,
sometimes pausing to polish the
hood ornament with some saliva

Jim and the
days. I don't want to talk about of a lotc
that." vorce my
Jim was born and raised in Jack- would se
son; he tells me he's 49 and not a large w
married. Of his friends he says, ting the
"Oh they're nondescript," -- giving easy to d
out information in two or three
word bursts. But he doesn't open
up to further questions about his
personal life; he's not uncoopera-
tive, but he struggles to find things
he considers interesting about him-
self.
In slow spurts he relents though,
and begins to talk about his past.
He came to Ann Arbor in 1953 and
was soon managing a small restau-
rant on the corner of Fifth and
Liberty, where a dry-cleaner is f
now. But he didn't get along with
the owner, so he leased the build-
ing at South Division and Madison
and began to convert it into a
restaurant.
"WHEN I LEASED this place it
was a grocery store," he says,
"just a Mom and Pop store. Before
that it had been a bakery outlet
but I guess the son-in-law of the
owner was running the place and
he never showed up so the place

B impyburger:4
of time here. I try to di- and keep an eye on things.
yself, but I can't." So it JIM GOT INTO the hamburger
em. He lives next door in business more by chance than
vooden frame house abut- by choice. He had been running a
restaurant. It makes it coalyard in Jackson when a friend
rop in from time to time got him a job in a small ham-

I

true ife story

burger house there. "I thought that
was the last fucking place I'd like
to work," Jim now recalls. "But I
liked it, liked it better than any
work I'd ever done."
THE PRICES at Krazy Jim's are
low, and even the T-shirts which
are for sale on a table near the
cash register bear the legend:
"Cheaper than food." It's no lie.
A Gino-sized portion of french
fries is only 15 cents, and onion
rings go for thirty. Other items on
the menu are similarly low priced.
All this is no accident of course.
Krazy Jim summarizes his pricing
policy: "If you sell people stuff
cheaply they're happier, and it's
more fun to work there. If they feel
they're getting ripped off the rap-
port is poor and the vibes are bad."
Besides the famed prices, Krazy
Jim's has a reputation for a pleas-
ant casual atmosphere w h e r e
many kinds of people come togeth-
er, and Jim is proud of this too.
"It's not just students, and it's not
just office workers, and it makes
it more interesting," he says.
THE MENU AT Krazy Jim's is

vegetables, milk, and sweet corn in
season.
Jim says he's become more
aware of good nutrition lately, al-
though he admits, "sometimes I'm
a terrible derelict about eating
right." But from the start he has
sold milk at a low price in order to
encourage people to drink it in-
stead of pop.
So how did this pleasant man
with his inexpensive, friendly res-
taurant come to be known as
Krazy Jim, and how did his main
menu staple get the nickname
Blimpyburger? As Jim tells it:
"When I first opened up, I was so
goddamn hard-up for loot. At that
time I opened up for breakfast and
sold ham and eggs, juice, toast,
and all the coffee you could drink
for 65 cents. So we were sitting in
a bar downtown, and the bartend-
er, a big Greek fella, says to me,
'Hell, Jim, you must be crazy.' My
brother was sitting next to me, and
he said, "why don't you call it
that?"
A ND THE BLIMPYBURGER? "We
ran a contest to name the
sandwich. I still remember the

mmmmmmmm.:_

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