Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sweet City Woman, Summer 1971

The summer after graduating high school.  We might get drafted, but we probably wouldn’t.  I had a lousy job in downtown Detroit.  I took the bus to get there, straight down Michigan Avenue past Tiger Stadium.

I remember this one particular Sunday night driving back to Detroit across the Ambassador Bridge.  We had been at the Murphy’s cottage on Lake St Clair, probably having drunk too much, as the drinking age was lower in Canada.  The bridge itself, for those of you who don’t know it, is an enormous suspension bridge.  As I child I was deeply frightened by its sheer height.  Now, cool air off the water cut the humidity a bit and we were on our way home.

I remember cresting the bridge around sunset and you could see all of Detroit lit up in that last brilliant flash of light before the sun was gone. 

We were in one of the McClowry’s convertibles—a newish red Ford LTD. There were the four of us: the McClowry twins and Tommy Murphy.  It’s funny, back then we never called him Tommy, but that’s how I think of him now.

Anyway we were laughing the whole time and I remember Terry singing in this hilariously high voice, along with the radio,”Swee ee ee ee ee, sweet city woman, sweet sweet sweet sweet city woman.”  We couldn’t stop laughing and Terry would stop and give us this hard look and then laugh and continue singing. Terry was a big guy, a world class athlete and both he and his brother Pat would go on to storied college football careers at Michigan State.  Everything was funny, that night and all summer long.  If someone had asked we would have agreed that most likely we would all live forever.

That’s it: no drama.  Just four guys on the verge of changes, the future, whatever it would hold, unknown.

Terry’s been gone a couple years now and I think all of us who knew him remain in shock to this day.  Tommy called me the day we heard and it was just unimaginable.  I hadn’t seen any of them in a quarter of a century, and that’s something I couldn’t have imagined back then.  I miss those days, those guys.

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