We moved to Vermillion, South Dakota in 1966. Downtown Detroit was beginning to seethe as discontent with the racist atmosphere spread. A year after we left, 43 people died in clashes with the police and many homes and businesses were burned and converted into empty lots that remain empty to this day. Many of our neighbors (all white) had bought guns by the time we left, fearing the invasion of the Blacks from the inner city.
We quit Detroit not because of the racial atmosphere but because of my Dad’s relationship with the biochemistry department chair. My father was on the verge of receiving a very large federal grant, and he tried to leverage this—unsuccessfully. In any case, he put out feelers and accepted the position of Department Chair at the University of South Dakota’s biochemistry department. He brought with him several graduate students and a very large grant—more research money than had ever been seen at that university.
We were all excited by the move. I was anxious to live in a place that was so far from anything I had ever known. When my father said that the operator had responded to his request for a phone number with, “You mean they have telephones in South Dakota?” I was thrilled.