August 14, 2013 - Dear Editor,
As a transplanted New Yorker it's taken me nearly 15 years to fully adjust to this close-knit world known as Clarkston. In New York, there were millions of people, but you really didn't know anyone.
Not so in Clarkston. Here, you know people…you know their children…you know their dogs …you just know.
A routine trip to Kroger on a mid-summer Saturday is the only classroom you need.
"Hi, sir, we're with the Clarkston football team," the handsome young man says, just as I get to the entrance to the store.
"Would you support the team by buying this discount book? It's a great deal."
Why not, I think. It's the least I can do, plus I know these guys are pretty good.
"Sure," I say as I reach for my wallet. "You guys gonna be good again this year?"
"Thanks," the young man says as he takes my money and hands me my discount book. "The Wolves will rule this season."
The Wolves? That's right, the Clarkston Wolves…that's the team name.
"Can you answer a question for me," I ask, as the young man high-fives his friend, apparently in celebration of his sales success.
"Why do you call yourselves the Wolves? Have you ever seen a wolf in Clarkston?"
"Well, no," the young man says, looking puzzled at first. "At least we're not called the dragons."
The dragons, I think. Who'd be dumb enough to call themselves that?
"Well, I guess so," I say to the young man, masking my utter confusion. "It just seems there are more coyotes in Clarkston than wolves. How does the Clarkston Coyotes sound?"
The young man's expression turns to calm focus, like you'd expect to see on the face of a hostage negotiator.
"That might be a good idea. You should bring it up with the athletic director," the young man says, nodding me a subtle thank you before joining his friends, who are laughing at something nearby.
Well, at least I have this discount book.
I continue to think about the young man as I shop. As I leave Kroger I look for him again. Then I'm approached by another young man.
"Sir, would you like to buy some raffles to support the hockey team?" he asks, with a huge, toothy smile unexpected from a hockey player.
"Hockey? What hockey team," I ask.
"The Clarkston hockey team," the young man says.
Clarkston hockey team? I didn't even know Clarkston had a hockey team.
"You guys are a big secret," I say. "Where do you play?
Bloomfield Hills? No wonder no one has heard of these guys.
"Are you also the wolves?" I ask, thinking for a second that this might be another good opportunity to ask my coyote question.
"Yes, we are…the Clarkston Wolves."
The young man and I complete our friendly transaction for a book of raffles. Odd, I think, that first prize are four baseball tickets.
"Have a great season."
I walk to my car, my mind racing through the events of the last 30 minutes or so.
I met two very upstanding young men, it didn't matter that they were terribly misled about the composition of the wildlife in the community.
I purchased an entire book of valuable discounts from local stores supporting the efforts of the community's youth. I purchased five chances to win Detroit Tiger tickets. And I discovered a great secret…that Clarkston has a hockey team, and they play in Bloomfield Hills.
"What a great place," I say out loud, thinking I might just call the athletic director and give him a brief lesson on the realities of the local wildlife.
I look into my wallet, thinking I might stop someplace for lunch. It's empty. I look back at the hockey player and think for a moment to ask him to lend me a few bucks.
"A day in Clarkston," I think out loud, getting into my car, smiling and driving home.