Monday, August 24, 2015

South of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, Wilbo Discovers Pizza Made in Blue Metal Pans, Just the Way Buddy's and Shield's Bake It In Detroit.

Picked up smoked fish pate from Carlson's Fisheries, the mainstay of Leland's Fishtown. Carlson's sold crackers, each bag priced the same price as the pâté. So I was thinking small, peeled carrots or mere saltines to make a lunch from the pâté. Little modern or public exists on M-22 between Leland and Glen Arbor, and the mythical roadway passed through logs piled up on the roadside and snags where treetops had been ripped from the trunk. The cleanup from the early August storm had a long way to go, and much timber awaits fireplaces and lumber mills. I kept scanning the roadside for something more than a collection of cottages, boutique inns, golf courses and private homes. Market 22 popped up on the south shores of Little Traverse Lake and three cars following me pulled into the lot simultaneously.

M-22 has become lonelier as the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore continued its mission of preservation. Several times I passed by abandoned farms of a rare type of abandonment. The farmers had sold the land and buildings to the lakeshore, and the families were granted a lifetime lease on the current resident. Those leases were granted in the seventies and had run their course by now. The names of each departed family had been posted in handsome signage before most of the quiet farmhouses. I found myself mildly disturbed by the once active farms rendered to a ghostly museum status. Wouldn't it be better to recruit a farming couple to start again? More life to that than posting a volunteer to give tours read from a script. I've attended more than one of those scripted tours and found myself wandering away and listening to the past speak, a tour listening to walls speaking and tools testifying.

Opened in November 2013, the family that opened Market 22 has given the locals a living room where good food can be enjoyed, sandwiches piled high with meats smoked on the premise and baked goods. Set out in a dining room that has a handsome wooden floor, high tables built of reclaimed wood and leather sofas invite gatherings to stay a while, talk much. The family passed their Sunday, cleaning the store and baking their Detroit style pizza.

I noticed the sign advertising Detroit Automotive style pizza. As I am native only to Detroit and had worked my early career in automotive factories as a trainer, I wondered if I had found a pocket of refugees from the industrial wonder of twentieth century Detroit. So I had to ask, "What is Detroit Automotive style pizza"? I hadn't heard of it before. Turns out, I had enjoyed the style many times before. Clearly the son of the older couple dusting jars and cans of food in the grocery, a man in his thirties explained how automotive sheet metal workers made good use of their changeover layoffs by assembling baking pans out of blue metal from the plants. If you've ever listened to the song by Johnny Cash that goes, " I got it one piece at a time. And it didn't cost me a dime", you might wonder if Ford or Chrysler knew about this use of their spare metal. Baking pizza in those blue metal pans bubbled up the cheese and toasted the crust in a distinctive way, and that's the kind of pizza Market 22 had to sell. Several locals walked out the door with pies as we chatted.

Those blue metal pan gave rise to at least two pizza chains, Buddy's Pizza and Shields. "Buddy's Pizza had an early store on Conant, just north of Hamtramck", I added, and we talked about old streets around the Ford Rouge plant and the Fleetwood Plant General Motors closed in 1987. My first position assigned me to retrain Fleetwood workers for jobs in the new economy, a poignant assignment as many had rudimentary listening skills.

I had my smoked fish pâté awaiting in the car, so I skipped the pizza for the day. I also saved the question for another day, "So, how does that explain East Detroit pizza, sold proudly to this day by Mr. C's and Bommarito Bakery"?

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