Alexandru Nemoianu: „A Booklet the Romanian-American Community of Detroit“
The Center s library preserves a very interesting booklet published on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the „St. George Romanian Orthodox Cathedral.“ The booklet is entitled „Trei decenii de viaţă românească in Detroitul dinamic“ (Three decades of Romanian life in dynamic Detroit). It has 64 pages and was published in April, 1937.
The booklet presents not only the first twenty-five years of life of the „St. George Romanian Orthodox Cathedral,“ but also a very comprehensive image of the Romanian-American community of Detroit with its institutions and economic activity.
Important evens from „St. George“ parish (later given the name of cathedral) mentioned in chronological order in the booklet were: May 12,1912, the first Liturgy celebrated by Fr. Ilarie Serbu from Cleveland, Ohio; September 3, 1916, the consecration of the foundation; November 18, 1917, the consecration of the church located on Russell Street; in the same year the church choir and the Ladies auxiliary were organized; on November 4,1923, the painting of the church was completed; in 1927 the mortgage was paid; in April, 1929 the church hosted the Congress that decided the organization of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America; on July 4, 1935, „St. George“ church became the cathedral of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America.
The following eight pages of the booklet present photos and reproduce documents from „St. George“ Cathedral’s life. From page 25 to page 43, the booklet presents the people and the organizations which contributed and helped to make the 25th anniversary a success.
Pages 24 and 25 present the family of loan Indreica who was the President of the Cathedral’s council at that time and chairman of the committee which organized the 25th anniversary festivity. In the booklet, it was said that loan Indreica was born on April 10, 1880, in the village of Semlac, county of Arad, Romania. He married Floarea Macean from the same village in February of 1900 and they have five children: loan, Dimitrie, Romulus, Valer and Iulian.
loan Indreica came to the United States in 1909, and on October 10,1909, he settled in Detroit. The booklet said that he was instrumental in establishing Romanian-American organizations in Detroit and „St. George“ parish in 1912.
The following pages, 26-47, present very valuable information about the Romanian-American societies existing at that time in Detroit. The „Deşteaptă-te Române“ (Awaken Romanian) society was founded on August 17, 1909. Among the founders were Dănila Iacob, loan Maris, G. Botean, Stefan Ognean, Petre Pentia, loan Petroviciu. In February cf 1912 the society voted to establish „St. George“ parish. In 1910, the society joined the Union of the Romanian Societies of America, and in 191′7 it had over 800 members.
In 1922, the society built „The Romania! House“ on Farnsworth Street. In the following years, the „Deşteaptă-te Române“ society united with other societies, but those unions were sometimes temporary due not so much to important conflicts but rather to personal ambitions. However, on October 19,1924, most of the Romanian-American societies of Detroit merged into the „Unirea Românilor“ (the United Romanian).
Other Romanian-American societies from Detroit mentioned in the booklet were: „Bucovina,“ founded on September 1,1928; the „Hora Unirii“ (the Unity Hora) organized in 1913 by the Romanians from Highland Park who worked at Ford Auto Co.; „Dragoş Vodă”; „Progresul“ (the Progress); „Gheorghe Lazăr”; „Dunăreană”; „Abraham Lincoln”; and many other smaller clubs and organizations. In Ecorse existed the „Fericirea“ (the Happiness) society and in Dearborn the „Mărăşeşti“ society which later united. The booklet deplored the tendency to fragment and rightly said that approximately 84 organizations for a relatively small community were far too many.
The booklet mentions that during the twenty-five years of Romanian-American life in Detroit, several newspapers were published, among which were: „Tribuna“ (the Tribune); „Luminătorul“ (the Luminary); „Viaţa Nouă“ (the New Life); „Solia“ (the Herald).
Pages 34-47 of the booklet mentioned the societies who helped to organize the festivities for the 25th anniversary and gave the names of their officers.
From pages 48 to page 64, the booklet contains advertisements that illustrated in what businesses the Romanian-Americans were involved in 1937. Forty-six advertisements were published, and they present a very diverse area of activity.
There were quite a large number of food stores, butcheries and groceries (Dumitru Vinţan, on Russell Street, George Titiriga, in Hazel Park Ionel Furcean, on W. Warren Street, Dumitru Nan in Dearborn, and many others). An ice cream parlor was operated by Alex Atton on Riopelle Street. On Savanah Avenue was located „Eugenie Beauty Shoppe“ of loan and Maria Popescu.
A pretty large number of Romanian-Americans were in the Restaurant and Liqueur store business: Ilie Fulea on State Fair; Mihai Conciatu on Davison Avenue; Lazar Dragos in Dearborn; Taylor (Croitoru) and Pestru on Woodward Avenue, and many others.
Also there existed plumbing stores, real estate and insurance offices, funeral homes, movie theaters, car dealers, two drug stores owned by Nicolae Drugociu, barber shops, gas stations, and many other businesses owned by Romanian-Americans in 1937.
These businessmen were also supporters of the community’s life, and the fact that they helped the publication of the „Three Decades of Romanian Life in the Dynamic Detroit“ booklet, was proof of it.