Joseph S. Ajlouny, Jr.


Joseph S. Ajlouny, Jr.


Joseph Ajlouny drove with his father to check on their family's grocery store on the corner of Forest and 17th.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


Forest Avenue and 17th Street, Memorial St. and Schoolcraft Avenue, Grand River Avenue


My father and grandfather operated a market in a small building at the corner of Forest Ave and 17th St. It was a classic neighborhood grocery store with fresh fruit and vegetables and a meat counter. Due to the curfew, it was closed for several days. When they learned from a neighbor who lived in a home attached to the market that the electricity was cut off, dad was worried all his meat would spoil. Plus he was concerned there would be a break in and that his knives would be stolen. So he decided to risk a trip to the market despite the warnings to stay off the roads. His goal was to retrieve the meat and knives and otherwise secure the place. He also wanted to give the neighbor who was looking after the place $20 as a thank you. Sensing an adventure was at hand, I insisted on going with dad and we left our house on Memorial St. off Schoolcraft Ave at about dusk. My only vivid memory of the scene was the militia in the streets and the smoldering of buildings on Grand River Ave. With great anticipation we turned the corner onto Forest and were relieved that the market was not damaged. After dad unlocked the doors and we went in, a police car with its service lights arrived to investigate our activities. Dad gave them a box full of ice cream bars and sandwiches because they would soon be ruined if not eaten. I ate some too. Well, we secured the meat and knives so I regarded our mission a success. In 1969 we moved to Royal Oak after dad and his father purchased a market on the corner of Main St. and Twelve Mile Rd. which is still there today. The building that housed the old market still stands but it has been vacant and derelict for more than thirty years. It is a symbolic of similar old neighborhood businesses that died a quick death in the aftermath of the fear and insecurity so many small merchants felt after the conflagration of July 1967.

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Submitter's Name

Joseph S. Ajlouny, Jr.

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“Joseph S. Ajlouny, Jr.,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed September 22, 2023,

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