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Gilda Snowden & William Boswell

Image by Lowell Boileau - Click to see his "Fabulous Ruins of Detroit"
Photo by Lowell Boileau

The Fall of Hudsons

On the bank of the river of cars
So many people wait.
The distant, hollow mountain
Dominates downtown.
Aluminum lawn chairs-
Cameras, binoculars point.
Excitement carried on the drone
Of stories about the store
About to implode.

We hear the explosions
A suspended moment before
The slow-motion signature
Of a monumental fall-
My wife breaks into tears.

Dust rises like a deep groan,
Like the wave of a May-Day
To ripple through history
Asking "Must all change?"

The cloud mushrooms, 
The cumulative disappointment 
Of all the ends of all the eras.

We are panicked and crying,
Running in the streets
To escape this new-dead past.
To escape this wall of time
That drives us
Involuntarily into the future.

By William Boswell


Boswell's full name is William Guy Boswell; most call him Boz, old
friends call him Boz or Bill. I was the one who started calling him BOSWELL,
when we formally met in Alvins in 1981. That is a story in itself.
As you know, all of us art students hung out at Alvin's. By 1981, I had participated in shows at the Artist Guild of Detroit [with Stephanie Crawford], had just had a one-person show at the Willis that past March, and had been graduatedfrom WSU for a year.
I was living a dual life of budding second generation Cass Corridor artist while commuting from my parent's home in Northwest Detroit. I had a studio in a flat over my father's dentist office on Clairmount and 12th [the epicenter of the 1967 rebellion]. I had not yet moved down here. On July 29, 1981 I was celebrating my 27th birthday [yes, I was STILL living at home!].
One of my buddies, Linda Centivany and I decided to spend the entire day and night at Alvin's, eating all meals and drinking inbetween. We were holding court. Coincidentally, it was the day that Diana Spencer and Prince Charles got married!
Up to this point, I was not an alcolhol drinker, but wanted to rectify
that situation. I sat at the bar where Boswell was tending, introduced myself
and my girlfriend and told him it was my birthday. He said he knew that I was
one of those art-student-girls because I was in there so much, usually at a
table along the brick wall. He congratulated me, and presented me with a
piece of Alvin's cheescake with a match in it for a candle. As the day wore
on, we all talked and Boswell showed me his poetry. At 6 when his shift
ended, he joined us at the bar. I stayed there all night. When the bar
closed, I left with somebody else but I never forgot the cheescake and the
poetry. I met up with Bill a few days later, and the rest is history! Boswell
introduced me to the literary and theater worlds, I took him to art shows. We
went together until 1987, when we got married. All I can say is, Bill and I
are still together; Charles and poor Diana ended up taking different, more
tragic, paths.

Bill Boswell is the one who can give you the lowdown on Alvin's Finer
Delicatessen's history. I have heard so many stories about Bobby McDonald [I
met him just before he died], Gordon Newton, Sestok, Luchs, Groppuso, etc,
etc, from Bill. He was Alvin Stilman's first employee when he opened it in
1968. Alvin's first directive to Bill was "Boswell, load the coffee machine
and fire it!" in a raspy low growl. Stephen, the next time you see Bill in
the Cass Cafe, pick his brains! He has a million stories.
Also, I am sure I have in my studio somewhere copies of the flyers that were
done to advertise Alvin's entertainment. I especially kept the one from the
week of May 30th, 1987; that is when we got married, and had our wedding
reception in Alvins. The Rockabilly Cats played, and at the end of the
evening Bill was so drunk he couldn't sign the check to pay them!


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