Bicycling through the neighborhood streets of Detroit is always an adventure. There is the usual slow-moving, loud cars spewing eye-burning black smoke everywhere. I’ve come across pheasants scooting across the street going from one field to another. Bike destroying open manholes and storm drains are not that uncommon, nor is the occasional stray dog (or dogs) that prance along looking off into the distance at who knows what.
However, there was one sight I came across late last year that made me stop and scratch my head in wonder. Clopping along northbound McDougall Street near Farnsworth Street was a horse and buggy! I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, out for an early morning bike ride; cutting through a rough east side neighborhood not too far from the infamous industrial ruin of the Packard plant, and suddenly this horse and buggy appears.
Knowing there’s a cemetery a couple of blocks over, my first thought was, “Ah, there must be a funeral today, and the buggy was leading the procession.” That wasn’t the case. The only other vehicle in sight was a pick-up truck with a horse trailer attached. It was following a short distance behind.
Plus, sitting in the buggy were two young girls who appeared to be touring the neighborhood. “Why this neighborhood?” I asked myself. We’re not talking the highly visible tourist areas of Detroit, such as the Campus Martius Park vicinity, the area surrounding The Detroit Institute of Arts or Greektown, where one would expect to see a horse and buggy. We’re talking the fields of Detroit with few houses or businesses anywhere.
This was the first time I’ve seen this horse and buggy outfit, and judging by the folks that wandered out on their porches and sidewalks to watch it go by, it may have been the first time it passed through that downtrodden neighborhood. Since initially spotting this set-up on McDougall, I have seen it couple of other times in the Mack Avenue, Mt. Elliot and Gratiot Avenue area on the east side.
I wonder what the story is on this mysterious horse and buggy.