Growing up on Grosse Ile is the story of life on a border island between Michigan and Canada, downriver from Detroit. What was it like to be young in a place surrounded by water and Great Lakes freighters in mid-twentieth century America? We grew up outside, and the island shaped our youth: both its unique provincial qualities—we all missed the same word on the fourth grade spelling bee—and its ties to the mainland—with the many “bridge stories” like the early bridge built to allow horses from the island to pull beer wagons in Detroit. With our ups and downs, we learned the lesson of the fragility of island life, and finally the hardest lesson of all—that those who grow up on the island must leave it.
Frances Trix grew up on Grosse Ile and graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Near Eastern Languages & Literature and Linguistics. She worked in ethnic communities in Detroit and overseas, and became fluent in French, Turkish, Arabic, and Albanian. For many years she taught Anthropology at Wayne State University in Detroit, and Anthropology and Linguistics at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.