Ford/Plymouth Mill Plant on Wilcox Rd @ Hines Drive

26 Jun

PlymouthMillHines Drive & Wilcox Rd. Henry Ford had this structure built in 1920. At one time this was the site of the Plymouth Flour Mill which eventually became Wilcox Mill. This property is now owned by Wayne County and is used for storage. Learn more at:  http://www.detroit1701.org/Plymouth%20Mill.html

One Response to “Ford/Plymouth Mill Plant on Wilcox Rd @ Hines Drive”

  1. Braylord Cassady October 17, 2014 at 11:55 AM #

    An

    Encounter

    by

    Mortstone

    Pond

    Russell Kirk

    We die with the dying:
    See, they depart, and we go with them.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
    The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
    Are of equal duration.
    – Little Gidding

    To the north, the little town of Mortstone, in Michigan, is bounded by the old millpond. A long earth-dyke, great willows rooted in it, runs out to the dam of rubble. On a November morning in the year 1919, with thick white mist upon pond and dyke, Gerard Peirce was walking slowly back from the tumult of waters at the dam, toward Sloat’s store and the old miller’s house on the knoll above the pond.

    From the dyke he could see the mellow brick walls of the tall store, star-shaped braces of iron set in those red walls to secure the iron rods that reinforced the brick. A little farther down the winding millpond road stood the white handsome old house some forgotten purse-proud miller had built in the Greek Revival years: a warm house with recessed porch and pilasters at its entrance, and at the rear a labyrinth of storerooms and rat-plagued woodsheds, clapboard wing appended to clapboard wing.

    This had been Gerard’s house ever since he had been born. Now he was ten years old, and wishing he were dead.

    His father had been killed in France, a year ago; they had buried his mother last week. The lovely house was to be sold, and in a few days he would be sent to San Francisco to live with an aunt. Mr. and Mrs. Sloat had moved into his house to keep him company until then, and he hated the pair. They meant to buy the house, though not the derelict mill.

    Two hundred yards to the east of the house began the black cast-iron fence of the old Mortstone graveyard, where Gerard and his mother every spring had swept clean the stones of the early settlers. On the far side of the cemetery stood the tall granite monument to his soldier-father; and now beside that was put the new small blank stone under which his mother lay.

    Since his mother’s funeral, Gerard had spent his days stubbornly walking first out the dyke to the dam’s raging sluices, and then back along the millpond road to the cemetery, where he would sit for hours under a yew close to the Peirce shaft. Mrs. Sloat said reproachfully that such conduct was “morbid”; but having taken the boy out of school in preparation for the trip to San Francisco, they could think of nothing better for him to do.
    Had he loved his mother as she deserved to be loved? How might he have loved her enough, within himself? He could do nothing at all about that, now.

    He stared at the classical lines of his house as he idled along the dyke, trying to fix every detail in his memory. Great masses of maple leaves lay upon the lawns. They too were dead. His mother and he would light no more bonfires on Hallowe’en.

    He was wholly and forever alone. There could come no relief, ever, from his misery. He had prayed by his mother’s bedside in her pretty room for a month, as she lay dying, and in her agony comforting her little son so far as she could. “You must grow up, my darling, to be the sort of man your father was,” she had told him. Tears began to run down his face again; he did not trouble to brush them away. The thing to do–he had felt this impulse before–was to dash back along the dyke and go over the dam.

    Then, most abruptly, a chill ran all through him. In horror, Gerard became aware that he was not alone. Someone who could not be seen now walked beside him on the dyke. He could have hugged his mother’s ghost, he had thought, should she have come to him; but now he was ice.

    He could hear no footsteps, and could see only faint drifting curls of pond mist; yet he was aware of a dread pacing presence, not palpable. Gerard forced himself to walk stiffly onward: perhaps if he paid the thing no heed, it would drift away. Nevertheless, the presence continued to accompany him. He could not cry out, shriek for help, though he wished to.

    It was not his mother: no, this was a man, this presence, or something like a man. An angel, a devil?

    Now certain words from without were impressed upon his consciousness—although no voice sounded in his ears, as speech is heard. Amidst the terror and the wonder of this encounter, somehow he contrived to grasp the meaning of what was being communicated to him.

    The silent words ran to this effect: “The pain will end, boy, or nearly end. This too shall pass. You will grow to be a man. They will love you always, being made for eternity.”
    No more words penetrated to his consciousness. Yet he felt, or thought he felt, the faintest pressure upon his right hand, for the tiniest moment. Though no voice had sounded without, in some manner the words had possessed a tone, a timbre, grave and heartening. That tone and timbre had not been his father’s, so far as he could recall his father’s voice.

    The dreadful cold ebbed out of the boy’s mind and body, but awe remained. On he walked, the presence accompanying him to the slope where the dyke merged into the knoll. There, abruptly as it had come, the presence departed—although how he knew this, he never could explain to himself in later years.

    Gerard was weak in his knees; yet in his daze he began to run, so fast as he was able, past the store, the miller’s house, the white pines that lined the way to the graveyard. Gasping, he knelt by his mother’s blank tombstone and prayed as his mother had taught him to pray.

    His father’s shaft cast its long shadow upon him. He had spelled out the words of its inscription a half-dozen times; now he did so again.

    SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF JEROME PEIRCE
    1889—1918
    CAPTAIN OF INFANTRY

    Still seems it strange, that thou shouldst live forever?
    Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all?
    This is a miracle; and that no more.

    Gerard puzzled over the lines; he would puzzle over them from time to time in the course of an eventful and violent life, long after the little uncanny episode on the dyke had been forgotten—or had settled into a most remote corner of his memory.

    The boy kissed his mother’s stone, pulled his shoulders back as his father had done, and left the graveyard. The communication on the dyke had nerved him. Three days later, commended to a conductor, he was put on the train to Chicago; relatives there kept him overnight and saw him aboard the train to San Francisco. “The pain will end, or nearly end,” he kept repeating silently, across plains, mountains, deserts. And as he grew up, self-reliant and quiet, the pain of parting indeed was deadened—or locked away and forgotten, for the sake of survival.

    On a November morning in the year 1969, Major General Gerard Peirce, or what was left of him, walked stiffly along the dyke leading to the dam at Mortstone pond. The huge willow trees were dying of extreme old age; fog shrouded them mercifully. His artificial leg troubled the General somewhat this morning, as it did many mornings. He had been a year in hospital.

    He had lost the leg at Hu’e, and much more damage had been done to his body there. When he was released from the hospital, the doctors had told him, with such tact as they possessed, that he ought to put his affairs in order.

    His wife had learned to live without him during those unending years in Indo-China; he had been with her only twice, on brief furloughs, all that long while. His return to her at last, he all appliances and scars, must have been to Sally the rising of a phantom. In his long absence, their children had been reared, schooled, married. Perhaps in eternity this wife and this husband would know one the other as in some remote past they had loved; but it was otherwise here below.

    Discontented in San Francisco, he had thought of the town he had not seen since he was ten years old. Had anyone ever cut an inscription upon his mother’s stone? Sally had raised no objection to his flying to Michigan merely a fortnight after their reunion; she had not inquired as to when, precisely, he would come back to her. At the San Francisco airport, he had detected in her eyes some pity and some terror.

    Mortstone, like nearly all the world, had been altered mightily in half a century, and not for the better. The heart of the town had been urban-renewed nearly out of existence; a tremendous interstate highway cut off the Lower Town from the rest of the place.

    Yet his boyhood’s Lower Town, near the millpond, had been spared, to his surprised pleasure. The mill had been demolished, and the willows were senile, but otherwise Time had been kindly. Sloat’s tall store still remained, though vacant. What mattered most was the miler’s house. It stood in neat repair, occupied by somebody or other, praise be—even if the nethermost woodshed had been swept away and a brown brick chimney, erected to the south side, marred the symmetry of the temple-house.

    Descending the slope with some difficulty, Gerard Peirce had limped all the way out to the dam. There he had rested for a quarter of an hour, dreamily watching the river spout and gurgle through the sluices; he might have been Heraclitus, musing there. But why reproach the river of Time? He had loved, fought, gloried in his victories, endured with some fortitude his defeats. Life is for action, some philosopher had written; well, Gerard Peirce had known plenty of action. He had succeeded in life, in that he had done what his dying mother had instructed him to do: to become such a man as his father had been.

    Now for the graveyard—a double entente, that. The General rose from the damp bench and turned back down the dyke-path toward his old house and the little-visited cemetery beyond it. He would walk the whole way, ache or no ache. “It’s a question of who’s the master, that’s all”—his broken body, or his will.

    He had trudged nearly halfway to the knoll when there ran through him a thrill far stronger than the pain in his stump. For someone unseen was walking besides him. He very nearly cried out.

    Did the mist suggest some small form? No sound came to him but the rushing and splashing from the dam. His hearing and his eyesight had suffered at Hu’e. Yet he did not require keenness of eye and ear to know that he was accompanied.

    What walked beside him, a sense beyond the senses informed the General, was a being intensely miserable, abandoned to despair. The General long familiar with death in many forms, steeled himself to respond to a dumb appeal. After what he had seen and done in other lands, no bodiless companion could affright him—or so the General endeavored to assure himself.

    The thing beside him was like one of his own men ripped up by automatic fire, or like a broken adversary begging for mercy. It was—was it a boy of ten, in agony of spirit?

    Words came into the General’s head, and after some choking in his throat he managed to utter them. “The pain will end, boy, or nearly end. This too shall pass. You will grow to be a man. They will love you always, being made for eternity.”

    He reached out with his good left hand. Was it an illusion that for the briefest possible moment, flesh encountered flesh?

    No intelligible response came—no word, no touch, unless that faintest of hand-sensations was the ghost of a touch—but a kind of sympathetic warmth crept through the General’s infirm chilled body. The invisible boy continued by his side until the foot of the knoll was reached. And then what had been little despairing Gerard Peirce, perhaps heartened, was swept away by the current of Time.

    General Peirce found himself now within the neglected graveyard, scarcely able to account for having made his heavy painful way so far.

    The marvels of time, of consciousness, of personality, nearly undid him. He sank down before his father’s granite shaft.

    We are essences, the General thought, essences that flow like mercury. Each of us is a myriad of particles of energy, held temporarily in combination by purposes or forces we understand no better than did Lucretius.

    We are essences—but insubstantial really, such stuff as dreams are made of, not understanding death because we do not know what life is. Across the gulf of years, had the boy who was to be a man and the man who had been a boy met in some fashion? Had a conscience spoken briefly to conscience?

    Personality is a mask; the soul seems indefinable. What gives coherence to our essences? In erring reason’s spite, the General wondered, am I a part of that once-venerated Mystical Body?

    He looked up at his father’s shaft. Fleshly life is a miracle, Young’s lines told him in the deep-cut inscription; so is the life eternal. The encounter beside the millpond of two aspects of a self had been miraculous—and numbing, as is the way with miracles.

    Did those few words of assurance my older self gave to my younger self really issue from me? Or were they put into my consciousness by a tender Other?

    Gerard Peirce of the later years limped the few feet to his mother’s grave, and went down on his knees to pray, as he had done half a century before. Someone—surely not those Sloats—had graven an inscription upon her stone! Perhaps those Detroit cousins on the distaff side? They had taken her epitaph from a twentieth-century poet:

    REQUIESCAT IN PACE
    MARJORIE JOHNSON PEIRCE
    1890-1919

    And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
    They can tell you, being dead: the communication
    Of the dead is tongued with fire
    Beyond the language of the living.

    RESURGAM

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