By Jill Hurst
Photo by David McNair
EIGHT AND A HALF YEARS IN A TOWN BRINGS THE PRIVILEGE OF MOURNING LOCAL LANDMARKS that have disappeared and looking with suspicion at change, or heaven forbid, “progress.”
I am a little protective and curmudgeon-y about Ferndale these days, baffled by the new parking structure and the plan for even more parking. Mixed-use space? I’m all about collaboration, but what’s it going to do to individual businesses? And all those dispensaries. They’re fine, but geez. Do we need so many?
Maybe I’m still recovering from the roller-coaster of emotion I experienced when the Green Buddha opened on Hilton. I thought it was a new Chinese restaurant, something I’d been hoping for since sweet little China Ruby closed. I was certain the carryout order I’d been carrying around for years was about to become a delicious reality. My dreams were crushed when my husband informed me that there was no vegetable chow fun to be found at Green Buddha.
WHEN ASKED TO SHARE MY FEELINGS ABOUT FERNDALE 2022, I decided to hit the sidewalks and catch up on what’s happened while we were in the house, binging and Zooming and venting our frustration about pretty much everything on whatever local forum we belong to. I took three separate walks around town with the goal of rediscovering this town we live in.
A lot of what I saw was very heartening. The front yards are flowering. The dog parade is still the best entertainment in town. I peeked into Fine Art Printing on Hilton and end up getting a tour from the owner. The Ringwald Theater might not occupy the NE corner of Nine and Woodward anymore, but the theater company has found a new home with Affirmations, just down the street.
Java Hutt is still a great place to meet friends, write your screenplay and order coffee without being judged! The restaurants are welcoming; I experienced wonderful servers every time I’ve gone out to eat. The hospitality business had to reinvent itself in so many ways during the pandemic and the servers who stuck with the business seem to love it. Of course we’ll always miss the places that are gone (does anyone know how to make those chips Dino used to serve with the burgers?) but now there’s Mexican, lobster rolls, Pho as well as many of our tried-and-true favorites that took care of us during lockdown.
FERNDALE BUSINESSES AND RESIDENTS ARE STILL BRAVE AND UNAFRAID to share their political beliefs and humanitarian concerns with signs in their windows and front lawns. The Library is open. Our two bookstores and Found Sound are also open for business. The Ferndale Community Concert Band is still alive and well. We drove past an outdoor front lawn performance of the FCCB last Fall. It was magical. And now there’s the M-1 Jazz Collective. As our old pal Friedrich Nietzsche would say, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
While we’re talking music, fingers crossed we’ll be hearing the piped-in music again on 9 Mile. It’s part of the Ferndale soundtrack, along with the ice cream truck and the train whistle. Yep, the train. Still there. It’s still going to chug through town and make you late for something. But that’s part of living in fierce, frustrating, friendly fabulous Ferndale.
I found my Ferndale this week. Get out there and find yours.