My Sixth Starving Artist Story

Here are the links to the earlier Starving Artist Stories.  For consistency, you might want to read them:

My Fifth Starving Artist Story

My Fourth Starving Artist Story

My Third Starving Artist Story

My Second Starving Artist Story

OK, My First Starving Artist Story

Since I was afraid of flying, I decided to take an 18-hour train trip to Cranbrook Art Academy.  This was bad planning on my part, because Pope John Paul was about to arrive in Chicago at the same time.  The train was loaded to the gills.  Children were screaming, running, and fighting their way through all of the cars.  The body odor, family meals, and vomit made a nasty curry.  The heat and the noise was pretty bad.  They had oversold tickets, so kids and Grandmas were camping out in the aisles.  The toilets were inoperable after a couple of hours.  I decided to retreat to the dining car.  I found the entire train staff camping out in the dining car, drinking, and eating saltines to avoid the mashing of the crowd.  Theirs was not an open society; I don’t even remember being waited on.  Or maybe, everything was ravaged.  I do remember looking at the mess of soda and beer cans and saltine wrappers and spilled drinks over the tables and trying to make sense of things.

Of course, we were hours and hours late getting into Chicago.  From there, it was on to Detroit.  I arrived in Detroit at about 1:30 in the morning, and took a cab out to the suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where Cranbrook Art Academy was located.  The cabbie got lost.  We kept stopping at gas stations to ask directions.  Each stop, the gas station employees would tell us to look in the phone book.  I would go over to the phone booth and find that the book AND the phone receiver were stolen.   Sometimes, there was no phone at all.  Three hours (I’m not kidding) later, we stop at a gas station and the owner was nice enough to direct me to the Detroit map that he had framed on the wall (remember these times?).  He showed me that starting at the center of Downtown Detroit, the city is mapped out on a grid, with the beginning being “One Mile Road”.  As you progress Southward, you will see 8 Mile Road, 9 Mile Road, 10 Mile Road, etc.  In a nice, tidy line you will arrive at Cranbrook Art Academy at 14 Mile Road!  Reaching the Academy should have taken not close to 4 hours, but fifteen minutes.

This was my first look at Post-Industrial blight.  I had never seen a convenience store that you could not walk into. You placed your order at a bullet-proofed and barred window.  I  had never seen so many people unwilling to help out a person.  I had never been treated badly by so many people in a three-hour period.  That is saying a lot, since I was a cocktail waitress in a disco.   Needless to say, my first experiences in Detroit colored my opinion of Michiganders for years.  If I saw a man wearing plaid pants, my heart would stop.  Many years later, I started meeting some really nice people from this state, and my attitude softened.

Me, standing by my grandmother, showing my muscle to my aunt

Me, standing by my grandmother, showing my muscle to my aunt



  1. Posted December 3, 2008 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Great story, Lavanna!

    I used to go to Detroit on business trips, now I understand how the city is laid out. I too got lost, except I was the one driving!

  2. John Martin
    Posted December 8, 2008 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure which I like best – the paintings or the starving artist stories. I knew you were a talented painter but now I know you can write as well.

  3. Posted December 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Hey John!

    That’s nice. Glad to see you popping over to see my blog.

    The earlier stories are better…

    ~Your siz-in-law,


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