Blackhumouristpress's Blog

January 29, 2013

40 Square Miles and a Mule or Bring the Amish to Detroit

Picture picking up the city of Miami with South Beach, Bayside and its art deco buildings that lazily never change and placing it within the city limits of Detroit’s vacant land.  You would still have space to place the island of Manhattan and San Francisco squarely within the city limits of Detroit too but then again, why would anyone want to do such a thing to vibrant, thriving cities?

City planners had a brainstorm; find the natives who once inhabited the land prior to the French explorers and allow them to open more casinos.  It seemed like a good idea but it came up against a lot of opposition from the established casinos that already existed in downtown Detroit.  One person on the panel to find ways of selling and using vacant land presented an off the cuff, spontaneous solution that found roots quickly.  This is what was said among several men and a bottle of Scotch.

“Forty motherfucking square miles and ain’t nobody want shit to do with it…  What we should do is sell it to farmers and give em vouchers to buy horses or mules or whatever the fuck they need to plow shit…  Then these people set up farmer’s markets and sell vegetables to people within the city.  Ain’t no Arabs selling no damn broccoli at party stores…  They ain’t no other way we going to git somebody to buy up these vacant lots.”

As crazy as the idea sounded, plans were put into motion to find Amish communities and sell them cheap land, provide areas to sell their products and give them vouchers to buy horses or mules to help till the land.  As the saying goes; everything sells eventually.

Cadillac Adams had been in and out of prison for years for small time dealing, theft and robbery.  At the age of twenty-seven, Cadillac found himself back in his grandmother’s home, which was one of two homes that remained on a street that once had thirty homes.  Cadillac learned how to play a trumpet in jail as part of a program to give inmates positive hobbies.  Cadillac’s former cellmate was good at painting and was selling his paintings on Monroe, only feet away from where Cadillac played the themes from the Flintstones, The Munsters and Sammy Davis Jr.’s song called the Candy Man in rotation for pocket change from drunken white patrons of Greek restaurants and the casinos.  Cadillac was willing to give lawful means of trying to earn money without a job.

One warm spring morning, Cadillac saw a white man in a field that had once been two city blocks, he had a mule pulling some strange device that was helping to seed soil.  Cadillac approached the unique looking old white man with a long beard.

“Eh man…  Y’all some hard working folks.  I see y’all out here from sun up til sun down.  People round here cain’t quite figure you people out.  It’s cool and all but look like some Little House on the Prairie shit to us.  We ain’t never seen no farmers and ain’t never seen no corn coming up out the ground…  It’s cool.  So I don’t mean to stop a hard workingman but I come to aks you if there is anything…  Anything at all that you might need help with where I could make some money and be of some assistance to y’all.  I will be on time and never take no time off.  I know when it come to working, you people ain’t playin.”

Wilhelm hired Cadillac to do all sorts of things like feeding animals on farm and cleaning shit.  It might appear like more exploitation of blacks without a skill but it wasn’t.  Cadillac earned more money than he made blowing a trumpet and he was in no danger of being arrested for making money by unlawful means.

Wilhelm’s daughter returned from something called Rumspringa where she went into the world to experience things outside of their Amish community.  Edith went to Toronto to drink, smoke, take drugs, have sex and wear jeans.  Edith bounced around from guy to guy and then she decided to return to her wholesome, quiet, tight-knit community in northwest Detroit.

Edith came home to find a genuine black man working out in her father’s field with his shirt off.  The wiry man had tight muscles and his dark skin seemed to shine with the sweat that ran down his chest.  Edith was drawn to Cadillac immediately. Edith had been with a plethora of white guys, an Asian guy with a racing Honda and an Indian guy with an English accent who promised to take Edith to London the night they met.  The Brit disappeared promptly the next day.  Edith decided to return home to Detroit and join the Amish church, find a husband and get married.  Cadillac is not what the Amish had envisioned.

The Amish community was very clannish, community orientated and opposed too much in the way of change.  The idea of allowing an outsider into the fold was difficult but allowing a son of those enslaved Africans to marry and cross breed with a Germanic child of god, took who needed to approve the idea to do some deep soul searching.  Was it wrong for races to mix?  Could this black man who was immersed in some of the worst things the English world had to offer, give up fried foods, malt liquor, cars, flashy clothes, Direct TV and live a humble and rudimentary life?  Most had argued that from what they knew of the environs of Detroit, the dramatic life change would not be possible.  The need to sneak off and see other women, plant their seed, drink and gamble, would be too overwhelming and then they would have to deal with a broken family within the Amish community.  One man who remained optimistic and open minded, reasoned that if the president of the United States could marry one woman and remain with her, it would be possible for Cadillac to stay with Edith.  The Amish decided to gamble on Cadillac.

If you ever want to buy some vegetables and hand made chairs, there is a black dude who sits on the site of a former Amoco gas station with his blue-eyed daughter with blondish cork screw curls and light caramel skin and sells his products.  He is one to marvel at and is a true curiosity.  What astounds people most about the bearded black man in overalls is that he can speak their language.

“Number one killer of brothas is heart disease.  You want you some corn and lettuce?  You need vitamins and vegetables in your diet, brotha.  This stuff much better foh you than a spicy pickle in a plastic bag, floating round in who knows what.    This stuff here was grown right here in god’s country; Detroit, Michigan.”

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