Last week, my family and I vacationed in Northern Michigan — a beautiful area with great cycling, picturesque beaches and lots of little resort towns where you can poke around in craft stores, coffee shops and art galleries. The trip’s one blunder occurred at the very end, when we encountered a four-hour delay for our flight home to Virginia.
As a result, I had plenty of time to peruse that day’s edition of the Detroit Free Press. It turned out to be a good thing, as I found two inspirational articles I would have missed if we hadn’t been stuck in an airport.
One was this story about 51-year-old Michael Williams, who wanted to commemorate the stately architecture of the many Detroit school buildings that have been closed, demolished and/or replaced since 2005. Among these schools is Williams’ alma mater: Mumford High, which received national exposure from the 1984 movie “Beverly Hills Cop.” (Remember Eddie Murphy’s “Mumford Phys. Ed.” T-shirt?)
After watching this summer’s demolition of the old Mumford High building — and observing other alumni crawling through the rubble for a souvenir brick — Williams created an online business, School Shirt Shop, that sells T-shirts and other momentos for the closed schools. Now, sentimental alumni can visit the site to buy keepsakes that depict images of the old school buildings, along with their opening and closing/razing dates.
Also in the Free Press was this story about Chris Rosnik, a laid-off policeman who opened Dairy Delights, an “old fashioned” ice cream parlor in Oak Park (an inner suburb of Detroit). For Rosnik, who wanted to remain a part of the Oak Park community he had protected for eight years, the new store “is a happy melding of his need and his dreams.” The inspiration, said Rosnik, came from his days working in an ice cream shop during high school, when he saw “how happy a simple ice cream cone could make people.”
Like any weary vacationer, I wasn’t thrilled about the delay getting home — but I’m glad I learned about two more entrepreneurs who started new businesses by turning a negative into a positive. One found a way to help nostalgic alumni preserve memories of their old school buildings. Another turned a job layoff into the fulfillment of a dream. Here’s hoping they both do well.