Beating the Checker Man
September 01, 2007
This story was told to me by Dr W, a pediatric resident whom I run into every now and then. He swears that it's true. He had an afternoon to kill one Sunday in late August, before taking call that night, so he went to the Hamtramck Street Festival. Hamtramck is a small city completely surrounded by the city of Detroit. Until 20 or 25 years ago, it was populated nearly almost entirely by families of Polish origin--immigrants and their descendants. Then, as in other Rust Belt cities, time and unemployment produced some drastic changes. The city became poorer; physical decay became more evident. Immigration from Albania, Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Pakistan, and Bangladesh reduced the Polish majority. Still, it's the only city in North America that has a park with a statue of Pope John Paul II. "A touch of Europe in America" say the bumper stickers.