Going Home

This past weekend, I traveled with my partner to Michigan to attend a Celebration of Life for a sister I lost to cancer in February. Our destination was Berkley, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. We stayed with another sister and her husband in my childhood home where they now live. I even slept in my childhood bedroom. Talk about memories!

My first morning there, we had breakfast at the American Legion in Berkley, accompanied by next-door neighbors I’ve know for over fifty years. Later the first day, I toured my home town with my partner, stopping by schools I attended and driving through downtown Berkley. We also visited nearby Royal Oak and Birmingham.

Cranbrook Art Museum

On the first day of my visit, our primary destination in the Detroit area was the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills. The museum’s website describes this institution as follows:

Cranbrook Art Museum is part of Cranbrook Educational Community, one of the world’s leading centers of education, science, and art. Comprising a graduate Academy of Art, modern and contemporary Art Museum, Center for Collections and Research, House and Gardens, Institute of Science, and Pre-K through 12 independent college preparatory Schools, Cranbrook welcomes thousands of visitors and students to its campus each year.

Founded by Detroit philanthropists George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth in 1904, Cranbrook’s 319-acre campus features the work of world-renowned architects such as Eliel Saarinen, Albert Kahn, Steven Holl, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Rafael Moneo, Peter Rose, and sculptors Carl Milles, Marshall Fredericks and others. Critics have called Cranbrook “the most enchanted and enchanting setting in America” and in 1989, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Cranbrook Art Museum features both indoor art galleries and outdoor sculpture. Even the buildings are awesome!

Outdoors — Sculpture and Structures

Nature presented a perfect spring day in May for our visit. Flowering trees were in bloom throughout the grounds.

Indoors — Artwork Collections

On what became a bright and warm spring afternoon, we welcomed the chance to spend time touring the air-conditioned indoor galleries.

National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to attend Mass at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan. This world-famous church is only two miles from my childhood home.

The church website provides background on this impressive house of worship:

The National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica has been operating as a parish in Royal Oak since 1926, named in honor of St. Thérèse de Lisieux. Over the ages, countless men and women have flocked to the church as a strong and faithful parish community.

Situated in Royal Oak, the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica is the spiritual home of 4,800 families and thousands more who visit us every year.

National Coney Island

Any trip home for this native Detroiter requires a stop at a coney island hot dog restaurant. Detroit-style coneys are a local favorite. Other places try to imitate them, calling them “chili dogs” or some such, but they don’t come close to matching the taste of this simple delight that has spawned coney joints all over Southeast Michigan. Besides coney hot dogs, I also savor “loose hamburgers,” another unique creation. You can see both of these sandwiches in the pictures below.

Here’s the scoop on National Coney Island, from their website:

National Coney Island has been in business since 1965 and currently owns and operates 20 restaurants in Southeastern Michigan. The corporate headquarters are located in Roseville, Michigan, home of the original location! 

Every National Coney Island restaurant features a menu filled with great-tasting, All-American classics, including traditional Detroit-style Coney Island hot dogs, our world famous chili, fresh salads, premium Angus burgers, delicious desserts like Sanders hot fudge sundaes and breakfast served anytime. 


On my last trip to Berkley twelve years ago, I had a medical emergency which resulted in hospital admission and heart surgery. Thankfully, nothing like that happened on my latest trip back to my home town!

I also owe a debt of gratitude to my sister Peggy Losey for driving my partner and I down Woodward Avenue from Berkley all the way to the Detroit River (across from Canada). Peggy’s masterful navigation of the busy downtown Detroit streets gave my partner a great introduction to the Motor City! On the way back, we got a good look at the Eastern Market area as well. On this ride, we witnessed the exuberance of public life as Detroit stages a major comeback from decades of decline. Thanks, Peggy!


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