Andrew Wahl

Title

Andrew Wahl

Description

In this interview, Wahl discusses growing up in the Cass Corridor and attending Dally each year. He discusses daily life in the Cass Corridor and how it has changed over the years.

Publisher

Detroit Historical Society

Date

10/23/2018

Rights

Detroit Historical Society

Narrator/Interviewee's Name

Andrew Wahl

Brief Biography

Andrew Wahl was born in the year of 1985 and grew up on Canfield Street in Detroit Michigan. He lived at this particular location from 1985 to 1999. As a child, he grew up in the Cass Corridor and helps organize Dally in the Alley.

Interviewer's Name

Raquel Escamilla

Interview Place

Detroit, Michigan

Date

10/23/2018

Transcriptionist

Raquel Escamilla

Transcription

RE: I am going to go ahead and start. When and where were you born?

AW: I can’t remember the hospital. It was a hospital in Detroit. I was very quickly taken back to someone else who did not respond to your interview. His name is Matt Clippard, who used to live on Prentis. He was four years older than me and my parents were already living in their house on Canfield. They had bought it in the 1970s.

RE: What neighborhood did you grow up in?

AW: Loosely, we defined it as part of the Cass Corridor. It’s not part of it technically, I don’t believe so, however now it is called Midtown.

RE: What was it like growing up?

AW: The block has always been very pretty. At the time, the rest of the neighborhood was a little rough. If we were biking we were allowed to bike to the end of the block turn around and go back. I had a nanny growing up who lived in the housing units over on [inaudible]. I started going to the Dally in the Alley right away. Besides that, we were confined to our backyard or that block.

RE: Would you say your neighborhood was integrated?

AW: It was pretty diverse. My parents specifically lived there because they wanted their kids to have somewhat a diverse upbringing, different from our other friends who lived in Grosse Point. Definitely knew our fair share of African American families. Definitely knew people from different socio-economic backgrounds. My parents were largely in a group of well-off white people.

RE: What did you do for fun in the neighborhood?

AW: Honestly besides that block it wasn’t the type of place you would be running around. We had a group of families that we all hung out with and went to birthday parties with. But there wasn’t really much to do.

RE: Could you describe where you lived? Like the address if you can remember?

AW: I lived at 662 West Canfield. Known as the cobble stone street we were there since before I was born which was 1985. My parents sold the house specifically for accessibility issues in 1999. They moved over to into Indian Village.

RE: What did you parents do for work?

AW: They were lawyers.

RE: They were what?

AW: They were lawyers. Both of them were lawyers. A lot of their friends, it seemed straight down the middle, they were either lawyers or eclectic artist.

RE: Where would you go for shopping?

AW: Like Groceries?

RE: Anything?

AW: I don’t remember shopping for anything except for groceries. And University Foods, while that is good enough for me these days, wasn’t cutting it for my folks. Even back then they would go over to Jefferson to Harper Town Market.

RE: Where did you go to school?

AW: I went to Friends school over in Detroit. With most of the people living down here went to Friends school. I had a few friends who went to public school system. But most of my friends went to Friends School which closed down about two years ago on its 50th anniversary. And now it is gated and its weird.

RE: Do you have any stories from when you went to school?

AW: Probably many. I am not sure. It was an interesting place because there were only 120 kids. It was a Quaker school. We used to sit in silence every morning for five to ten minutes there were 10 grades. I was in a big class of 20 people and you went the entire 10 grades with those 20 people.

RE: How long did you stay at that school?

AW: Kindergarten to 8th grade.

RE: Do you have any stories about your childhood? Maybe any stories about your neighborhood or what you used to do in the neighborhood?

AW: The Dally in the Alley is still a big picture. It still is in my life. When I was young in dippers, they would put us in the Free Press because it was a big deal. You know white kid in diapers in Detroit. My nanny is an impressive woman, I don’t know if that counts as a story. She is 91 and has over 200 decedents and still lives in the neighborhood. I don’t know what the city has planned for those houses. But I cannot imagine what that they are going to that long.

RE: Did you used to venture outside the neighborhood or did you used to stay in your neighborhood.

AW: Basically my neighborhood or up to one of the other neighborhood were these friends lived. It was mostly my neighborhood or University District, and occasionally I had a couple of friends growing up in Grosse Point.
RE: Did you feel comfortable in the city?

AW: Yes, I always do. But I wouldn’t be walking around late at night in a strange part of town when I was a kid. I always felt fine and it was a big part of my identity. I was always less comfortable else were.

RE: How was Detroit during the years you were growing up?

AW: It was definitely different. I mean in comparison to some things I mentioned I said about the block and it begin not able to venture so far than 2012. You have the present right down the road right now. It was more sparsely lived in I suppose. You see a lot of old fashion business come and go. My dad used to take me to the Bronx when I was five years old. That neighborhood was just more sparse.

RE: Has the neighborhood changed over the years and how has it?

AW: Yes. Not as egregiously as other ones in Detroit have. The entire neighborhood is full of booming business and 100 percent occupancy with raising rents. However, then occupancy and a general turn towards more business and more college students and higher home prices, it is not crazy different. The housing units are still there.

RE: Have you ever thought of moving away like outside the city?

AW: Interesting enough, or not, I am moving to Washington D.C. in a couple of weeks.

RE: Can I ask why?

AW: A girl. I don’t want to go. I love Detroit. Apart of the deal is that we have to come back here. It’s a little daunting.

RE: For the people that you knew moved away, why would you say they moved away?

AW: Of the people, I know that grew up down here, the only person I know who moved away was my brother. And he moved away for a job 7 years ago. He comes back all the time and I know for other people this has been a huge part of their lives and I don’t think they would be moving away. If it wasn’t for this stupid romance I wouldn’t be moving away either.

RE: When someone says your neighborhood how would describe the boundaries for it?

AW: I would say Woodward, Warren, Third, then maybe going down to Selden.

RE: How do you feel about the state of your neighborhood both in time you grew up and now?

AW: I think right now it is in a good place. I think many people in Detroit, I have mixed feelings about gentrification. But my neighborhood even back then was oriented towards college students and such. I can’t say its horribly negative. It’s a lot safer for my nanny now. So, she is happy about it. They closed those houses down and boot all the people out then that would be a completely different story.

RE: What would you like to see happen in your neighborhood?

AW: I want the Bronx to stay open. It would be nice if they torn down that electrical station and actually put the playground back up. It would be good if they had mix income housing. Even though a lot of the developers are against that. Some amount of states would be good for me instead of completely washing over everything.

RE: IF you could get one project done in your neighborhood what would it be?

AW: I am not a very project oriented person. Tear down that electrical station and put up a playground.

RE: Do you have any stories that you would like to share? Maybe something fun or funny that happened from your childhood that really sticks out?

AW: There is probably many, but there isn’t something that is really coming to mind right now.

RE: How do you feel about the state of the city and where it is going?

AW: All I know is what I read, because I don’t have my tentacles in the city. What it sounds like is that they are still losing residents. It sounds like the rebirth is just for midtown and downtown. I tend to think that gentrification is a force of nature and we can’t eradicate it. I don’t believe it is a terrible thing, but if you get rid of all the poor people it’s not the same city. Downtown turning into the new Birmingham does not excite me that much.

RE: When you lived in the place you lived you talked about how you only were allowed to ride to the end of the block and back. Why did your parents do that?

AW: Back then that block was the only safe part of the neighborhood or that one other block on Prentis. We used to go to that church.

RE: What were the main problems at the time?

Aw: It was like any other city. I was a kid so I was hidden from those problems. There was a lot of drugs, a lot of prostitution, lot of rambunctious individuals. Not really much theft. There was a lot of house in states of disrepair. As a little kid, I was pretty sheltered from that.

RE: Do you know why your parents went to Detroit or moved into that specific neighborhood?

AW: Way back then before they had kids they probably thought of themselves as hippies. So, these lawyers and artist were all part of a group in the Cass Corridor back then. Most of them that was not their motivation after they had kids. They very specifically wanted their kids to grow up in a relatively diverse environment.
RE: I know you talked about Dally. Could you talk about what that means to you?

AW: I don’t want to wax poet it too much cause at the end of the day it is just a party. I am involved on the organizing committee. I have been running their beer booth there and have done their website. It’s about a group of 20 of us who throw it. My close friend Matt Clipperd throws it. That is how I meet Patience on the committee. I have been going to this thing since I was born since I lived just right down the road. My parents not individual and all their friends were the people who started it, including my aunt. Even though it is just a party, I do think it is a very diverse one without any corporate funding. To Patience it is particularly a green festival. So those little things behold into it.

RE: Can you state your name and how you spell it?

AW: Andrew Wahl

RE: When did you live in the neighborhood?

AW: From 1985 -1999.

Search Terms

Detroit, Michigan, Midtown, Cass Corridor, Dally in the Alley, Wayne State University, Campus District

Citation

“Andrew Wahl,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed December 2, 2020, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/746.

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