By MARGARET BLOHM
For the Times-Herald
DEARBORN – Ben Young and Darlene Harris, residents of Beaumont Commons, Dearborn, share an unusual history. Beginning in the 1960s, their families lived directly across the street from each other in Detroit’s North Rosedale Park neighborhood.
Young was an attorney while his wife, Cynthia, worked for the city of Detroit as curator of social history at the Detroit Historical Museum. Al Harris taught political science at Henry Ford Community College and wife Darlene taught first grade for 26 years at McFarland Elementary school in Detroit.
Each couple raised two daughters and a son — sharing common experiences such as neighborhood parties in the summer and open houses at Christmas.
The families were also neighbors to Jennifer Granholm before she became Michigan governor. Young recalled how years later, he and his wife were walking by the governor’s mansion on Mackinac Island.
“She happened to be outside with the children, and immediately recognized us and came down to greet us,” Young said. “I was surprised she remembered our names, but that’s how she is.”
While Young and Harris share similar admiration for Granholm, their rivalry is rooted in sports.
Young, a Detroit native, maintains he is a diehard University of Michigan fan, having completed undergraduate studies and law school at U-M. Darlene Harris, born in Ohio, graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in elementary education.
“I am a staunch Buckeye,” Harris said.
She described how the outcome of the annual football game between Michigan and Ohio State determined which family would be able to decorate their yard with red or blue streamers.
Harris moved to Beaumont Commons in 2014 after her husband had died a few years before. She said,
“Taking care of a house was just too much for me,” she said.
Young, who moved to Beaumont Commons this past spring, was in a similar situation.
“My wife received care here before she died, so I was already familiar with the campus’” he said. “My daughters decided it was time for me to move. I agreed.”
Now that Young and Harris are neighbors again, they share in fond memories of raising their families and continue the friendly football rivalry. Other residents and staff are expected to find out how this year’s rivalry fares, and who will be doing the decorating.