The “Y” sounds like “I”. (IP-suh-lăn-tee)
One-half day on the Eastern Michigan University campus in Ypsilanti in 1960, and I knew I was “at home.” A Saturday field trip, arranged for a group of seniors by our high school counselor, introduced me and hundreds of other prospective students to EMU and Ypsilanti. The drama department put on a play, and student leaders took us on a campus tour. Soon afterward, I submitted my application for admission to EMU, the first teachers college west of the Alleghenies.
Settled as Woodruff’s Grove in 1823, Ypsilanti is the second oldest town in Michigan. Six years later the township was organized. Ypsilanti sits on Michigan Avenue, a much-traveled route that runs east to Detroit, about 35 miles, or west to Chicago.
According to The Story of Ypsilanti by Harvey Colburn, the government commissioned a surveyor to “establish a practicable route from Detroit to Chicago.” He and his party followed an old Native trail and stopped at the Huron Valley, where the trail intersected with the Huron River. The surveyor and his crew determined that it would likely be the spot where a community could thrive.
City founders, three Detroit “enterprisers,” named the town for Greek war hero Demetrius Ypsilanti in 1929. They admired him for his role in the fight for Greek independence. Today, a statue of Demetrius Ypsilanti, flanked by the flags of Greece and the United States stands at the foot of the landmark Water Tower, on the edge of the EMU campus.
As a student, the university offered everything I needed, both academically and socially, that first semester in the dorm. But, during the years I lived in married student housing, my world expanded to include more of Ypsilanti proper. For shopping, banking, employment, and restaurants, we ventured into town.
We could walk to just about anywhere, which was great since we didn’t own a car for the first year. My husband rode the Greyhound bus into Detroit each day for work. On grocery day, I would hike from our apartment on campus to the bus station to meet him. From there, we’d walk to the store, do the shopping, and get ourselves and the bags home by taxi.
Ann Arbor, down the road six miles, served as home base for a few years. But, from 1961 to 1973, when we moved to California, Ypsilanti was our home most of the time. There, we forged friendships with other young students and worked hard at school and in our part-time jobs. Both of us completed our schooling and moved on to jobs or to graduate programs. We became a family. Our two daughters cut their teeth and learned to walk and talk in Ypsilanti.
This is a place that fostered new learning and produced many memories during my late teens and twenties. Ypsilanti, where my life as an adult began.
~ xoA ~