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The Drabek family

My Neighborhood - Dicken (CG18)

Moving up without moving out.

by Shelley Daily

Published in September, 2018

After almost eighteen years in the Dicken neighborhood, the Drabeks--Nancy, David, and daughters Grace, fifteen, and Ava, thirteen--had outgrown their small ranch home. They needed more space but didn't want to leave the neighborhood.

When a friend spied a Realtor pounding a "For Sale" sign into the front yard of a spacious brick ranch on a tree-lined street just a couple blocks away, she texted Nancy. By the following day the Drabeks had put an offer on it.

Nancy, who grew up in Dearborn Heights, is a hair color educator for Wella Professional and a hair colorist at Salon MW in Kerrytown. She met David, a history and economics teacher at Pinckney High, through a mutual friend. A Dearborn native and U-M grad, David says Michigan "was the only school I wanted to attend," and his loyalty runs deep. A season ticket holder for football and hockey, he's been going to football games since the seventies, "back when we could bring coolers into the stadium."

In 1999, during the Michigan-Notre Dame game, the stadium became the site of David's marriage proposal. An airplane flew overhead during the fourth quarter with the message "Nancy Will You Marry Me? David." Michigan was losing, so after some initial cheers, "no one paid attention to me," Nancy laughs. Michigan went on to win the game, the couple married the following year, and they moved into their first Dicken home, just a mile from the stadium. It's a neighborhood, Ava says, "in the middle of everything"--close to downtown and westside businesses.

Now settling into their second home, they joke about some of the "charm" that comes with an early-sixties ranch--including a pink-accented bathroom and a fallout shelter in the basement approved by the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization. Right now, it's storage for Nancy's mannequin heads for work--and some bottles of wine.

After the move, Grace, who attends Pioneer High, says "I love that I can still walk home with my friends through Pioneer Woods." And both girls still hang out with friends they made at Dicken Elementary.

"This is where I grew up," Ava says. "This is where I belong."     (end of article)

[Originally published in September, 2018.]


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