Yesterday I learned a gross and fascinating fact of the “Old buildings are something, aren’t they?” variety.

It is possible for a century-old storefront to get the meatsweats.

Some friends told me about how their building, which was a meat business until a few years ago, has a big dark area in its hardwood floor. When it gets hot out, it turns white–the wood exudes a thin coating of animal fat. Past lives of the building come out of the floor.

Published in: on January 9, 2016 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Weekend vignettes

Walking in a Hamtramck alley yesterday, we crossed paths with a woman carrying crutches but not using them. She asked, “Making pictures?”


“Do you work for the historical society?”

“Actually, yes.”


As we were leaving the historic Jewish cemetery we visited today, he pointed out the water pump.

“Oh, you wash your hands when you leave,” I explained, “so death doesn’t follow you home.”

“Do you want to?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s broken. It didn’t work last time.”

So he got his water bottle out and we washed our hands there in the parking lot.

Published in: on September 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My new town has a donut-based holiday.

I first learned about Paczki Day when I was visiting Detroit in February of this year. I went to Small’s, a Hamtramck rock venue, to see a show. I got carded at the door, and when I presented my out-of-state ID, the doorman asked, “Missouri? Really?”


“What are you doing in Hamtramck?”

“I’m thinking about moving here.”

I instantaneously became the recipient of an enthusiastic two-bouncer bear hug. “It’s the best decision you’ll ever make! I love Hamtramck! Are you going to be here on Tuesday?”

“No, I’m leaving before then.”

“Is there any way you can change your plans? Tuesday is Paczki Day.”

“What’s that?”

Where New Orleans has its massive Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras debauchery, and St. Louis has its own formidable boozefest (complete with dog parade), Hamtramck has Paczki Day. It’s celebrated in other cities with large Polish-American populations, but here it is legend. On Paczki Day, you do two things:

1. Eat massive amounts of enormous Polish donuts called paczki, and
2. drink drink drink.

Hillary Cherry, one of the geniuses behind Hamtramck Star, tells me that Paczki Day was instated by a 1980s mayor of Hamtramck around the time that the Dodge Main plant was being torn down. Spirits were down and moths were flying out of pocketbooks, and so it was a way to get people from all over the metro area to come to Hamtramck and buy paczki and alcohol. What a great idea. 

I am told that I will need to take the day off work.

I’m sure this isn’t news to Detroitlanders, but for folks elsewhere who are curious, here’s a video of Mo Rocca visiting Hamtramck on Paczki Day.

It’s a couple of months off yet, but I can’t wait. Innards, I’m sorry in advance.

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 10:56 am  Comments (3)  
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Checking In

By the way, I am alive and well and living in Hamtramck, Michigan, a tiny municipality inside of Detroit but separate from it.

I dropped the St. Louis from the title of my blog, and will just be writing under Curious Feet from now on. I still intend to write about St. Louis, but I’ll probably be writing more frequently about Detroit and Hamtramck. Readers, I hope you’ll stick with me on this new leg of my journey. St. Louis and Detroit have a lot to teach each other.

I plan to write about why I chose to move to Hamtramck soon. For now, here are some photos I’ve taken in Hamtramck this year:

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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