Tuesday, March 4, 2008
When I was an altar boy at St. Mike's, my mom and I used to eat at Merlin's Retreat, an unexpectedly vegetarian restaurant at 5th and what is now MLK. I remember the "Happy Tuna Sandwich...happy because it's still in the sea!" No idea what was in the Happy Tuna. When I was older, I used to run into the couple that owned Merlin's at the Copa. The last time I ate there was with Sari Failer after having my wisdom tooth pulled by Dr. Sam Sorscher on Davison Road near Angelos. (My Grandma McFarlane was supposedly his first patient, and he was lovable but tough; no painkiller for fillings unless you asked.)
I hadn't thought about Merlin's in years until I saw these photos by Jar With Most. I have a lot of happy memories of this neighborhood. There used to be a candy store nearby called Sweet Marie's that the St. Mike's kids would run to before they caught the bus home. I bought Peanuts books at the nearby Readmore bookstore.
It wasn't the greatest neighborhood then, but seeing these photos shows me it must be a lot worse now. Even the telephone poles look like they're struggling to stay upright.
UPDATE: Aaron Stengel offers up more info on Merlin's Retreat. "It was a popular hangout for Flint music scenesters during 1981-1983. Many shows were held about a block away at 909 Detroit St. (MLK). The Touch Boutique (also about a block away) was a legendary head shop in the early/mid 1970s. It eventually became a home to members of Jesus Christ and the Superstars and Pincusion in the late 1980s."