Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Flint Photos: 1982 Bobby Crim Road Race

Note the Cinci Beer t-shirt, the Dolphin running shorts, and the JVC boom box. Shopping cart "borrowed" from Hamady's. Flag "liberated" from Swartz Creek Golf Course.

This is Flint so a well-dressed shopping cart requires a hubcap.

Expat Throwback: The Day Zorro Came to Flint by Tom Pohrt

Author, illustrator and Flintoid Tom Pohrt remembers the day pulp writer Johnston McCulley's creation walked the streets of Vehicle City.

“SeƱor, who are you?”
“A friend of the people, El Zorro!”

1958: Unemployment in the U.S. was at 7% and a gallon of gas was 25 cents; Sputnik burned up re-entering earth’s atmosphere in early January and Nikita Khrushchev became Premier of the Soviet Union; Joao Gilberto introduced the cooled down samba sound of Bossa Nova in Rio while Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army was advancing on Havana; Ted Williams signed with the Red Sox; the right wing John Birch Society was founded; Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel “Lolita” is published in the U.S. and the first International House of Pancakes opened in Toluca Lake, California.

And Zorro came to Flint. It was a heady year.

In August of 1958, when I was five years old, Zorro did come to Flint, Michigan. Zorro, aka Don Diego de la Vega, was played by a second generation Italian-American actor named Guy Williams, whose Christian name was Armando Catalano. My brothers and I were glued to the TV each week to watch Zorro on The Wonderful World of Disney. El Zorro was a friend of the people and an enemy of injustice to three young boys brought up in post war Flint. He wore a black mask, cape and hat and wielded a wicked sword, each week whipping a capital Z across some Spanish villain’s pants or shirt. Zorro had an Errol Flynn mustache and matinee idol good looks. In short, Diego de la Vega was the essence of '50s cool. Google Williams’ screen test for the role he later played on Lost In Space. The guy knew how to light a cigarette.

The Zorro TV show was co-sponsored by AC Spark Plugs and this was the reason why he was visiting Flint. Our father held a white collar job at AC, giving us entree to the factory lot where Guy Williams and Henry Calvin appeared to tour the plant and sign autographs. Henry Calvin played the overweight Sergeant Demetrio Lopez Garcia, Zorro’s comic foil.

Here is a photograph of my brothers Karl and Dick getting Sergeant Garcia’s autograph. I’m standing there in short pants, my hand reaching up but with no paper or pencil for a signature. I remember that rather awkward moment. I recall that Henry Calvin shook my hand. I do remember I was a bit afraid of Guy Williams. He was tall at 6’3 and just too cool to approach. I came across these images while going through and organizing some family photographs. The photo of my brothers and I with Henry Calvin looks like it might have been a publicity shot for AC.

There is another small group of photos that my father took of Calvin and Williams signing autographs along with several of the AC beauty queens, from Flint and Milwaukee. I also came across another group of snap shots showing a parade held later in downtown Flint, celebrating GM’s Golden Milestone. They show a military parade with numerous floats, including one with Zorro and Sergeant Garcia in costume. They appear to be acting out their roles for the entertainment of the crowd.

Here's a clipping I found from an AC newsletter titled: WARM WELCOME LEAVES MARK ON ZORRO! Hard not to feel a certain innocence-lost looking back on these images, when in fact this took place during the heart of the Cold War era.

Originally published September 3, 2010.

Flint Artifacts: The Copa Jacket

Flint Artifacts: Buick Wildcat Key

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Flint Photos: Van Slyke and 12th in the Seventies

Flint Postcards: Buick Skylark Coupe

Flint Photos: The Doors of the Vehicle City

Monday, January 31, 2022

Flint Artifacts: 1968 A.C. Spark Plug Decal

Flint Photos: 1058 Root Street

For a current look at 1058 Root Street, now a vacant lot, of course, head here.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

What Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" Infrastructure Plan Means for Michigan

Todd Spangler of The Detroit Free Press reports:

$7.3 billion in federal highway aid, $563 million for bridge replacement and repairs, and the chance to compete with other states for tens of billions more in projects deemed economically important.

$1 billion for buses, rail lines and other means of public transportation.

$100 million, at minimum, to help extend broadband Internet coverage, including across large rural sections of the state where it is lacking.

$1 billion over five years to be added to the $200 to $300 million a year that is used to pay for environmental projects in and around the Great Lakes.

$7.5 billion to help build electrical vehicle charging stations across the U.S., greatly helping Michigan’s automakers in their attempt to shift to selling more electric cars and trucks.

Melissa Nann Burke and Riley Beggin of The Detroit News report

The legislation, known as the Build Back Better Act, also tackles lead service line replacement with $9 billion in funding that would funnel an estimated $300 million for Michigan. There's also $150 billion for housing, including expanded rental assistance and home repair aid, and expanded health insurance coverage through Medicaid that the White House has said would cover 95,000 uninsured people in Michigan.

Additionally, the bill would give the three Detroit automakers a big boost over competitors through a $12,500 consumer rebate for electric vehicles, which includes $4,500 for cars built by union labor.

Shawn Hubler, Emily Cochrane and Zach Montague of The New York Times report:

In Michigan, the bill will infuse a record $1 billion into a decade-old program to restore and protect the Great Lakes, where drinking water and wildlife have been compromised by pollution. 

A loan program in the bill also will help local governments in states like Michigan set up projects to reduce the risk and damage from extreme flooding and eroding shorelines.