Mershell, Mary V. and Doris Graham on their front steps. 1926.

There were no photographs of the Grahams inside their home. There is this one of the children on the front steps.

The neighborhood. You can see my grandparents house across from the blue factory.

My maternal grandparents, Mershell and Fannie Graham, bought their house on Theodore Street on the East Side of Detroit in 1922. My grandmother was pregnant with my mother Doris.  They lived in the house on Theodore for 45 years until the neighborhood became increasingly violent. In 1968, after experiencing several home invasions and gun shots fired into the house, they bought a two family flat with my parents near the University of Detroit. 

The Brass Bed

Poppy bought a brass bed soon after he married. He was, the story goes, walking down the street when he saw a brothel being evicted and the belongings being set out on the street. This wonderful brass bed was among the items and he bought it on the spot. Growing up we – sister and cousins – spent many happy hours playing in my grandfather’s room. We used to be able to slip between those brass bars at the foot of the bed. My sister Pearl has the big bed now.

My mother memories of growing up in this house.

I lived at home until I finished college and married. Everyday when I got home from school the minute I opened the door I knew what we were having for dinner. The house would be full of the good smell of spaghetti or meat loaf or greens or salmon croquettes or pork chops and gravy or steak and onions. We had hot biscuits or muffins every day. My father did not like “store bought” bread. I hardly knew what it tasted like until I married. Our friends were welcome. The house was clean. Our clothes were clean and mended.

She also remembered being in the car with her father when their car got stuck on the railroad tracks down the street and the train hit them. I found an entry for that in my grandfather’s little notebook. Although it happened in 1935, I am going to copy it here. My mother was 12.

Car struck by M.C. (note:  Michigan Central) engine  Mar. 10th 1935
At 2:15 P.M. Doris in car with me.
No one hurt very bad.
Doris received small cut on left hand
M.C. RR settled for $25.00 part cost on fixing car.


Here are two other posts about the house on Theodore

T is for Theodore Street
Everyday Things Then and Now

12 thoughts on “T – THEODORE Street

    1. When my mother told me about it many years ago, she said that the train was barely moving. Otherwise…

      It would have to be, right 😀

  1. That solid brass bed is a storybook in itself.
    Who took that picture of the your mother and her siblings on their front doorsteps? It would make a worthy display in an art gallery–It’s so beautiful.
    Just read you response to Csenge’s question so know about the train.

  2. What an amazing post. The survey and photo are wonderful — ditto your excellently labeled map. And the bed story? Priceless. As is that note about the train crash — wow. I was thinking what you confirmed — that the train must have been moving slowly. Thank goodness.

    1. I wonder how that story came down. By the time we came along no one was sitting around telling family stories, except those my mother told us just her to us. When she was growing up did my grandmother and her sisters and mother sit around and laugh and talk? What did my mother, my grandmother and her aunt sit around and talk about while we were out there playing in the yard? I’ll never know.

  3. Wow! Some amazing stories and great research. Incredible that no one died from that train/car incident. And a brothel bed? lol! Oh, the tales it could tell…

    ~Tui Snider, @TuiSnider TuiSnider.com – Historic Cemeteries & Symbolism from A to Z

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