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Archive for January 8th, 2009


Thursday, January 8th, 2009

The building next door to Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine has been called “The Dollar” for a while. Before that it was “Silver Dollar Saloon” and many other names before that. My mom would dance there when it was The Tin Lizzie and I seem to remember it was a roller skating rink at one point.

Altu’s is in the last building in East Lansing. The Dollar was in Lansing. There was a tiny walkway between the two buildings, I don’t think it was wide enough for a person to walk between the two, if I remember right.

Well, once upon a time (until 1968) East Lansing was a dry town, you could not serve alcohol anywhere in the city. This meant that the real estate just outside the city limits, was hot property for drink/dance establishments. The building next to Altu’s was probably the largest of them, or one of the largest in any case. We moved to this area in 1962 (I was about 4), so I do remember this issue dimly.

There are still a few places from that era hanging in there, and all have had to find a new way to attract customers. Local folks will know a few of these places yet: Dagwood’s tavern is one of them, so is Coral Gables (I think it has an East Lansing address but it’s in the Okemos School District). Paul Revere’s was there, too, and does anyone remember The Boom Boom Room at Frandor? There was still Rainbow Ranch across from The Gables when I was in college in the mid-1970’s… I danced there a few times during the disco era.

The Dollar has tried to hang on for a while but has been empty for at least a year now. Today I went to Altu’s for lunch, and I found this scene. The quite large building which used to block the sun into Altu’s, was missing. In its place was a relatively small pile of rubble being loaded into large trucks by a construction shovel gizmo. (They used to be called steam shovels, what are they called now that they are not powered by steam?)


It was quite shocking. I mean, I was there Friday last week and all was still. I was there today and the building is essentially gone, the land is flat. You can now see the Sears water tower at Frandor in the distance (just right of the tree at center) and the sign for Dunham’s sporting goods where Burlington Coat Factory had a store for years, at the left of the photo.

I sure do wonder what will take its place. It could be very good, this is a lovely part of town with a cute neighborhood behind it where lots of professors live.

I am crossing my fingers. Maybe they will build some offices where the workers will become customers at my friend’s restaurant? Maybe condos on second floor and business on first, something like the building across from the Lugnuts’ Stadium? I can only hope for something like that.

But as often is true, I am not in charge. Please send good vibes.

Balance: Bad Weather, Good Luck

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

We have had so many days of varied weather from just warmer than freezing to miserably cold, that I don’t remember when I took this photo. I think it was about a week or 10 days ago, whatever day it was when things melted for a short while.

It’s snowing again today. (Would someone please turn up the heat out there for me?) In spite of that, I want to tell this tale of luck. I want to make up for complaining in the last post.


I was unloading my car after a day out and about. I looked down and noticed a puddle. In the puddle was a rectangular thing. Maybe a receipt? Hmmm, maybe a dollar bill.

I do not like having dirty hands, it’s a little quirk of mine. However, I was a little on the empty-wallet side of life that day. I figured I could get dirty for a few minutes to get a dollar.

It was a Twenty! Twenty dollars.

Soap did a good job on both my hands and the bill. The bill did a good job with my mood.