Dr. Lynne Twining may be the only person alive to favorably compare the Cass Corridor of yesteryear to certain enclaves in Paris, France, which she also loves. Almost as much as Detroit. But when Twining makes that comparison, fondly remembering what it was like to live at the El Moore in the mid 1970s as part of an eclectic and multicultural community of residents, she emphasizes that she does not make this comparison frivolously, nor simply to make a point. She also makes clear that she is fully aware of the difference between Paris and Detroit’s Cass Corridor, not wanting anyone to think she has ‘lost it’ in any way. Twining loved her neighborhood, she loved living at the El Moore, and to her it was a magical sort of place full of all variety of folk who each made the experience of living there all the more enjoyable. And it was that magical, special feeling about her time at the El Moore in the Cass Corridor that reminds her of her other favorite place.
And no, the tiny young woman who tended bar at the renowned Cass Corridor jazz club Cobb’s Corner for awhile never once felt unsafe or nervous about where she lived. Not at all. She regularly came and went from her fourth floor apartment at all hours of the night and never once had a problem, she said. It was only when the management changed at the building and a particular gentleman who resembled a Hell’s Angel, and who also happened to be the new building manager, began stalking her that she knew it was time to move. But even then, Lynne’s views on her beloved Detroit neighborhood did not change. And today, more than 40 years later, the affection remains. The Cass Corridor was something special.
As she recalls, what brought her to the El Moore was that “I was kicked out of a building on Willis because the owner of the building did not think I was religious enough. And I’m not religious. I come from a very secular background. So I totally freaked out when I got kicked out,” because now Lynne found herself broke without anywhere to stay.
“So I was looking for a place I could afford, and my place on Willis had truly been quite lovely. It was on the top floor of a building nestled in a fig tree. I had a bunch of windows and that was my tree house. So I wandered south. And at that point Willis was the cutoff because no one dared live south of Willis because then you were in the territory of a lot of drugs and crime and drunk people. So I decided to brave it. And also crossing 2nd Avenue wasn’t something that people did very often at that point. And I was wandering around, and I was awestruck by this building of such eclectic architecture and beauty, and the fact that it reminded me of a brownstone that had melted for many years; the rain and the elements against it. So I was struck by its beauty. And so I went up to it, and met somebody, and somehow I got in.”
That building was the El Moore.
This is the second in a two-part series. Read part 2 here.