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Store gone but not forgotten

By Marcus Wright
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Crockett Groceries opened its doors at Ferry Park and 16th Street Jan. 16, 1968 and closed Aug. 30, 2012. That’s almost 45 years that James and Florence Crockett have sold meat, bread and milk, as well as beer and wine and all the other items associated with a mom and pop store.

The Crockett’s have lived on 16th Street between McGraw and Marquette since 1966, two years before they purchased the market. He said he purchased the house on land contract. “The person who sold me the house was a preacher and I told him if you trust me to pay you, I will.” Crockett said he paid for the house within three years.

“This was a beautiful neighborhood,” James Crockett said. “We became acquainted with all of the people.” There were lots of teenagers and the people were friendly. He said the neighborhood reminded him of his hometown, Pratville, Ala. “You could walk down 16th and other streets in Detroit and people would be barbecuing in the backyard and they’d invite you to join them,” Crockett said. “I don’t know why Detroit gets such a bad rap.”

Crockett said Detroit was a city where anyone willing to work could make a very good life. He said he has been to a number of cities and Detroit was the best for a poor person to work and get all the things they wanted. He said it has changed.

“People stopped raising their children,” Florence Crockett said. “James worked two jobs. We have six children and we’ve never had to go to the jail to get one of them out.”

Crockett said he worked at Abner Wolf Corporation from 1958 until 1972. He also worked at the produce terminal on Fort and Green unloading box cars of fruits and vegetables.

Unloading all those fruits and vegetables is one of the things that convince him to purchase the store, Crockett said. He said the building had been torched and gutted during the 1967 rebellion. Crockett said he hired a lawyer to find the owner who sold it to him on land contract. “I worked in the store and worked two jobs, leaving one and going to another,” Crockett said. “Sometimes I had to call home to find out which job I was going to. But I made it.”

Crockett said he helped all of his children who wanted to go to college go. He said five of his children went to college and the sixth went into the armed forces.

Crockett said Detroit has been very good to him and a lot of other people as well. He said he doesn’t understand why we turn against one another. “Carolyn Kilpatrick patronized stores and shops up and down Linwood,” Crockett said. “She used to come here every weekend and purchase meat. It beats me, I just don’t understand it.”

Crockett Groceries is located at 6224 16th St.

Contact Marcus Wright at marcuswright@michigancitizen.com

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