The Burning of Detroit by Ron Rowland #SonnetSunday

Starting somewhat harmless, some time ago
Soaping, egging, other mischievous pranks
These acts then morphed into a tale of woe
Arson and deeds not deserving of thanks

Each year on the night before Halloween
Arsonists would light up Detroit with fright
Houses and buildings in flames were the scene
This devastation known as Devil’s Night

Eight hundred fires in Nineteen Eighty Four
Hundreds of blazes for thirty odd years
Detroit was in essence a zone of war
Its citizens hid and trembled in fear

You could say things kind of got out of hand
With Angel’s Night, the city took a stand

Audio version

A fascinating slice of social history

…courtesy of Ron Rowland. I didn’t know a thing about this Detroit Halloween tradition, which evidently got out of hand by the 1980s! Thank you, Ron, for enlightening me, and depicting a frightening scene of fire in the sky. And extra special thanks for making the recording.

A poster “advertising” Devil’s Night 2009

16 thoughts on “The Burning of Detroit by Ron Rowland #SonnetSunday

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  1. What a violent era, Ron, so vividly portrayed in your Halloween sonnet! I see encouraging news these days of a Detroit Renaissance! πŸ™‚

    Around 1960, as a ten-year-old trick-or-treater, I remember hearing warnings of razor blades in apples and poisoned candy. Civility seems to have returned on both sides. Parents now escort their children on Halloween night, ringing doorbells of houses with outside lights on. Soaping and egging are things of the past, and parents check all treats for safety.

    Thank you, Ingrid, for the Halloween Sonnet Festival. I am enjoying it immensely! <3

  2. I didn’t know about this, Ron. In the Philadelphia/S. Jersey area, we have Mischief Night the night before Halloween. It may have been bad around that time, too. I didn’t even think about last night.

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