Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama (and Ike) visit Flint

Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama was in Flint on Monday talking about the economy and Sarah Palin's fictitious opposition to the "Bridge to Nowhere."

This political event gives me a great excuse to run some more of Mary Fisher's great photos of Flint in the fifties. On October 1, 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the Vehicle City. Ike gave a speech downtown touching on foreign policy, the Korean War, and Democratic partisanship. (I apologize in advance for my inability to figure out how to insert an arrow in the photos to identify Ike. Consider this a presidential version of Where's Waldo?)

You may need to break out the magnifying glass for this, but Ike is on the far left, framed by the second window on the left, wearing a light-colored suit and distinguished by his familiar bald head.

The speaker's podium. No idea if Ike is up there or not.

A man in a dark suit waves to the crowd as if he's the president, but he's not. No idea who he is. (Aren't these informative cutlines?)


  1. I was thinking these photos would surface around this time... since hurricane Ike is in the headlines as well. ;)

    Nice to see presidential candidates still visiting Flint. I remember seeing Gerald Ford on the train stop, and Jimmy Carter downtown.

  2. Yes...I remember Jimmy Carter at the IMA. I was 4. Although, I don't know why my republican father took me now that I think about it.

    Kathy W

  3. I haven't seen Roger & Me in a while, but doesn't it cover Ronald Reagan's visit to Flint? I think the cash register at the pizza place where he ate was stolen, along with the Nightline news truck?

  4. Does anyone know what streets these were taken on? I'm assuming Saginaw, but what building is in the background? I can't tell from my vague memory of Flint.

  5. in the last picture i beleive that the building with the phallic tower is the old city hall building. i'm not sure where it was located...but i've seen it pictured on postcards on ebay.

    also you can see one of the very large steeples in the background
    maybe court st. united methodist??

  6. Gordon --

    Michael Moore did touch on the Reagan visit and the cash register that was stolen from the Italia Gardens and the missing "Nightline" van. I remember hearing something that Michael was a little loose with the facts concerning that (imagine that) and that the missing van and/or cash register was not actually tied to Reagan's visit. I'm sure that you can find the truth about that visit somewhere on the internet.

  7. Finding all the creative license with the facts in Roger & Me might take a while, but I still think the over-arching message was on the mark.

  8. somewhat on the subject, i saw bill clinton when he was running for pres the first time in a vacant lot on i beleive stevenson near the scenic flint river with the old chevy in the hole as a backdrop. pretty weird....

    also, when al gore was campaigning in 2000 he spoke in the parking lot of the pavilion across from the beautiful genesee towers

    flint really went all out for the back-drops on both of those speeches

    maybe we could get mccain or obama to speak in front of some of our lovely boarded up abandoned businesses

  9. try again? don't forget that JFK came thru, stopped at the Mich.School for the Deaf on Miller Rd. my older Sister shook his hand. and "tricky" dick nixon came thru in his '68 bid. he and pat stopped in front of zimmerman jr. high, and we were all trotted out to gape at him, shake his dead fish cold hand, too. mrs. n. sat in the back of the limo with a vacant, benign smile athwart her gums. I prefer'd my other nickname for him better...ok this time? hehehe...

  10. Impossibly white-haired Jack Kemp came to a Woodcroft Estates block party in 1996. Almost zero visible security.

    Went to see Al Bore in 2000. Got the pat down treatment and had an unapproved sign confiscated. Raising PG kids in an R-rated society? What an inconvenient truth.

  11. I've been informed that the building in the background is the old City Hall.

  12. My late father Al Frost) was a Genesee County Sheriff back then and family history has it that he was one of the "locals" who guarded Kennedy during his visit to Flint.

    I never got a chance to talk to my dad about the Kennedy protection assignment and his late wife, my step-mother, informed me recently (while giving me his badge as a Detective for the Genesee County Sheriff's Department) that he was the cop who busted Don Williamson that sent him to jail with the felony conviction. If it's true -- then Dad went up a few notches in my book.

  13. My older sister let me skip Cook School and took me to see JFK when he visited Flint in 1959 while still the Democratic candidate. I think it was held downtown. The good part was I was first in line to see him up close next to the wooden snow fence put up to separate the crowd from him. The bad part was that same fence. After his speech he started toward the fence exactly where I was standing. Just as I went to shake his hand the large crowd behind me surged forward in waves to shake his hand. I was crushed down into the wooden slats of the snow fence(I was a short 11 year-old). I was starting to feel those damn wooden slats go into my chest and could no longer breath just as Kennedy's local body guards pulled him back from this wild bunch of well wishers to protect him. By doing so they also saved my butt. As his local body guards lead JFK down the field away from the crowd standing on me they backed away to follow him before I ended up with some serious hurt. My belated thanks to Al Frost and all the other Sheriff Deputies protecting JFK that day.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at