Delray Stories
Growing Up in Delray
as rememberd by
George Lott

My name is George Lott and I am a 37 year retired police officer from the old Fourth Precinct. I was assigned to the Detroit Police Mini Station at 8022 W. Jefferson when it opened in 1973. My job was to walk around the neighborhood and acquaint myself with the people.  Most of the Hungarians were old or had moved out but I was very interested in the Delray local history. My father, a Canadian, had lived in the Delray area during the prohibition era and often told me of the boat trips he made to Delary, Ideal Bar, at Dearborn and W. Jefferson, delivering Canadian whiskey for the Purple Gang and eventually to Joey's Stables, who delivered it downriver. I would sit and talk with an elderly lady, Caroline Sology,sp? who lived upstairs over the drug store.  She would tell me of how "beautiful" downtown Delray used to be with several movie shows, banks, newspaper, restaurants, bars, clothing stores, funeral parlors,etc. My father told of the night life in Delary, where a  young man could find all  sorts of entertainment.

I'm 70 years old and before my father passed I use to setup a video on a tripod and get my father to talk about the old days.  I have hours of these tapes and he really enjoyed talking once he forgot he was on video. He particularly like to talk about prohibition days when he first came to this great county from Canada.  He came from a small town in lower Ontario, Wingham.  He was staying somewhere near Windsor and he asked a friend of his what the US was like.  The friend took him to a place on the Detroit River where they met another friend.  This person asked my father if he wanted to make $5.00.  Turns out the rumrunners were taking Canadian booze across the river to the Purple Gang on the US side. For months my father would go to the river on the Canadian side and just before the weekend would make 3 trips at $5.00 per trip to the boathouse under the Ideal Bar.  He would be met by a crew of men who would unload the booze and hand him a $5.00 bill.  Well with $15.00 in his pocket he was a rich man. After a while he tired of the quiet life in Canada and just decided to stay in the US but continued to drive the boats. My father told me many times that $15.00 would go a long ways and it would buy anything a young man needed ...there were blind pigs, whorehouses, gambling halls, and many good restaurants in Delray. After a while he became homesick and wanted to go back to see his mother and dad but he was scared that he would get caught. A friend told him to apply for American citizenship and when my father asked how, he was told to go to a bar, near the Zug Island bridge, and meet a person named Al.  A couple of weeks later and $20.00 he had his citizenship papers, courtesy of the Purple Gang.

The bar was near or was the Rosey Bar on the South side of W. Jefferson just east of West End St. The booze continued to flow into all the downriver areas and in Delray it went from the Ideal Bar to Joey's Stables I am told by a tunnel,  My father said that Joey's was one of the most elaborate blind pigs in Delray.

Many times as a police officer I took my father to work with me and had him point out various houses and areas in Delray that he remembered and there was a story connected with each. No doubt what he was doing was against the law but prohibition was really disliked by the citizens and most found ways to get around it.

I saw tears in my father's eyes many times as he pointed out locations in Delray and of course there was a story connected to each location....just wish I could remember more of them. My father was English Canadian and my mother was Pennsylvania Dutch.  Both American citizens.

I worked for the Detroit Police Department.  As punishment I was sent to work from the Delray Mini Station at 8022 W. Jefferson, right in the heart of beautiful downtown Delray, when it opened in 1973.    My fault.... for shooting 2 holdup men in the act of taking down a bar at Sanders and Mellon St. I spent about 30 years working out of the old theater, turned doctors office, and now turned a ministation. I wondered what ever I would do,,,so dirty and boring. I went home one evening and told my father that they had transferred me to Delray and this began many long talks with my father about this part of Detroit. The following is some of the things that I still can remember...not necessarily in any order of importance.  I never have and don't intend to embarrass anyone or any family names.


The overgrown alleys with the most beautiful wild hedge roses and hollyhocks....everyhere and there a couple peony bushs and wild grapevines.

Paul, a white Russian, who made the best plum wine.  He had a bottle in a brown paper bag seems like evertime I drove by the house on Thaddeus, west of West End.

Hungarian pear brandy at the old Hungarian Club.

The bakery on W. Jefferson at Dearborn with the neat old bread slicer.

Solosy Funeral home...on W.Jefferson, then across from Holy Cross, and now in Lincoln Park.

Talking to an old lady who lived above Szachmary Pharmacy, pardon the spelling, Caroline Sology.

Steve Szabo's meat market  on West End and the great homemade sausage.

Ideal Bar, talking to Irene the owner about prohibition.  The many stories my father told me about this bar and rumrunners and the Purple Gang moving the booze downriver.

Bicycle Annie as she rode around the street....always very friendly...said to peddle her wares.

Barnes, Median, Burdeno streets, and the gypsy funerals that went on for days. Seems like the dispatcher would always send me to unblock the street and the gypsys would always send out a beautiful young girl to plead with me to allow their escapades for another night.

Kar's Pop Shop and watching the bottles go thru the machine.

Al's Pastry Shop with Al senior and Al Jr making elaborate cakes and goodies.

The Hungarian Club of Detroit, Sunday dinners upstairs....and many special parties that I was invited to.

The terrible smell from the rendering plant, Wayne Soap....need I say any more!

Dill Place, the narrowist street in Detroit, with houses on both sides.

The big old clock, by now not working, above the old bank at Cary and Jefferson.

Chasing a stolen Corvette off the end of the pier at Cary and Barnes and when we pulled the vette from the canel we latched unto an 1920s era vehicle with two whiskey cases in the back.

Jim Nagy on Bacon St...kind of crouchey!

Dearborn and W. Jefferson, Zolkowers Department Store, then a Salvation Army Store.

Tony's Meat Market, W. Jefferson and Dearborn...not the cleanist place!

Delray Music Shop...old country stuff, clean, and the owners lived upstairs, even cleaner.

Delray Cafe before the present owners took over and the big game animal heads on the second floor.

Old lady in black that ran the newspaper at West End and W. Jefferson.

My many conversations with the old Hungarians and the endless stories they use to tell about how prosperous Old Delray use to be...too damn bad this little peice of heaven to many people had to end.

Enough for now....George




This entire site Copyrighted 2008 and Forever by R. S. Bujaki