While riding my bicycle in Detroit, it isn’t uncommon to see utility poles with makeshift memorials or shrines made of stuffed animals for someone who died. They can have up to 15 to 20 of the colorful animals nailed to the pole, along with a photo or two of a dead child or teen. Sometimes they have the birth and day of death written on the photo. Some of the little shrines have religious candles or mementos of the deceased surrounding the base of the pole.
There was one memorial I recently spotted in a field, close to a sidewalk on an unassuming street void of most homes. The little shrine to the dead was a bit different from the other memorials of this type I’ve seen. It wasn’t momentos nailed to a pole, and it didn’t feature the stuffed animals that are normally found on memorials of this type. It was made of bricks, a small religious statue, and a homemade wooden cross.
There are two elements to the little shrine. One part is constructed of white bricks in a religious arch pattern, and the center is recessed as if it was built to hold a religious statue. In the center of the white brick monument are a few red bricks incorporated into the back, forming a cross. It looks like something that would be found in a church or cemetery. Next to this four-foot tall shrine of sorts is much smaller, cement covered brick structure that reminds me of a section from a chimney.
That part of the shrine is not as refined and has a wooded top. On that top is a small statue of Joseph and Mary holding the baby Jesus. Right above this small memorial is a wooden, handmade cross wired to a chain linked fence. Just below the cross is a vessel also mounted to the fence, and in that is a small flag of Mexico. The whole scene reminded me of something that would be found at hundreds of gravesites in any cemetery.
There was nothing there referring to someone’s death like many utility pole memorials I see. Because of that, it makes me wonder who constructed this little shrine on a desolate street on the southwest side of Detroit. It also makes me wonder why it’s there, and if it is ever visited.