Post 8 — Farewell to Harper Woods

Somehow everything got done. The packing was finished, the paperwork signed— all the steps necessary to walk away from an established life for two years. Larry was granted a leave of absence from the Detroit Board of Education so there would be job to come home to when the contract was up. But the hardest task of all was still ahead.  It was time to say goodbye to the family.

The going away party was held in the backyard of Chuck and Betty Broquet, Larry’s brother and sister-in-law. It was the mother of all family parties, with every living relative within fifty miles of the Detroit Metro area invited. There were co-workers, friends, neighbors, and even Jean’s side of the family showed up for some uneasy cross socializing. There was a lot of potato salad.


The party was captured on super8 film, and that reel shows a family of six wearing enormous paper leis and looking nervous and excited. Kathy does the hula, Detroit style, and Larry staggers in and out of the frame like a drunk, hinting at the sophisticated humor that will be on display later in his television shows. There is a parade of relatives as every one of the fifty-plus aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents waves goodbye into the lens and forms a bon voyage conga line, dancing and waving. Karen, the littlest Broquet, is actually captured on film for the first time in her life, proving the importance of the occasion.

The camera follows the family to the airport and gets a bit shaky as all six of them disappear into the plane, waving their umbrellas and trying not to cry. The Encyclopedia Britannica had taught them that rainfall in America Samoa was around 200 inches per year. They didn’t want to be caught unprepared. They didn’t have a clue.

Their adventures in paradise were about to begin.


Anyway, back to my original thought … most of the benefits from this jaunt will be tangible. The girls are meeting situations with a good deal of grace and aplomb, learning to accept disappointments (also they have been eating everything without too much grousing), we seem to be getting closer as a family and are seeing that Harper Woods wasn’t quite so bad after all. I hope I can remember all these uplifting thoughts when the ruts get too deep.


Family video shot in 1964: edited by Carolyn Broquet, narrated by Dick Broquet

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2 Comments to “Post 8 — Farewell to Harper Woods”

  1. A more innocent time, when they didn’t assume 6-year olds would carry rocket launchers into the airport, and you could watch the planes take off from an observation deck.


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