(Clare, MI)—Here I am, back in Michigan attending my 50th high school class reunion. I told my doctors that my chemo regimen was controlling my life and I needed a break. They agreed, and my wife and I came back for five weeks. It’s great to see the multitude of trees and the abundance of green grass. I love sitting in the garage watching a thunderstorm accompanied by lightning. There is no drought here. In fact, if one wanted, he could mow his lawn twice a week.
Along with some (poorly played) golf and the reunion, we went on a side trip to Clare, about an hour and a half drive to the middle of the state. Clare is a small town formed in 1896 that sported a grain elevator near the railroad tracks so the farmers could ship their bounty and make some money.
The city grew slowly. Stores came and went. The Clare City Bakery provided a stopping point for anyone heading “up north.” (Up North is any place north of Bay City and Saginaw where Michiganders go to get away from it all.) There are cottages and cabins all along both Lake Michigan on the west side of the state and Lake Huron on the east side. Thousands of cottages are on the smaller lakes that dot the map of Michigan. These lakes provide fishing, swimming, and recreational boating.
Campgrounds are abundant. Rivers provide easy access for canoes and kayakers. When it’s nice in Michigan it is breathtaking. When it is awful, it is beyond description. The people are so happy to be done with that brutal winter.
The Clare City Bakery fell victim to economic hard times and closed. Travelers who would stop in for a cup of coffee and a dozen donuts to take to their cabins were at a loss. At a loss, that is, until Clare’s entire police force, consisting of nine officers, decided to take over the bakery. It was a gamble to be sure, but they did it and called it “Cops & Doughnuts Bakery.” And a fine bakery it is. Soon they expanded to open a gift shop adjacent to the bakery that offers all sorts of goods like aprons for grilling enthusiasts, cup cozies, and T-shirts, and sweatshirts bearing some wisecracking law enforcement slogans. They sell a travel coffee mug proclaiming, “Don’t Dunk and Drive.”
Years ago, an airhead guy’s behavior made a police officer take aim at him with his Taser. The airhead’s line of, “Don’t tase me, bro” went viral. The cops borrowed from that line to make a T-shirt that says, “Don’t Glaze me, Bro.”
More recently, they even added a restaurant on the other side of the bakery called the Traffic Stop Diner, featuring the “Misdemeanor Weiner,” the “Stool Pigeon Sandwich” (chicken) and other cop lingo dishes. Their most popular donut is the “Felony Fritter.” It is outstanding and usually takes me two sittings to demolish one.
We happened to go there on National Doughnut Day; something I didn’t even know existed. We bought a load of doughnuts for our relatives, along with some gifts. If you’re ever in mid-Michigan, don’t miss Cops & Doughnuts. From their gift shop I also bought an entertaining self-published book written by a retired Detroit cop.
My next columns are exclusive two-part interviews with the embattled Flint Chief of Police, James Tolbert. Believe me; Chief Bejerano has it made compared to Chief Tolbert.