Saturday, November 29, 2008

Milbourne Memories

Sarah Swart's old house on Milbourne Avenue.

Sarah Swart left Flint in 1982. She returned with her husband, Victor, this summer for a reunion of the Flint Academy classes of 1979 through 1988. She sent me notes and photos from her trip, including details of her visit to Hidden Park. I managed to lose the rest of the travelogue somewhere on my computer until today. So here are some more details of Sarah’s trip home.

"I used to live on Milbourne Avenue in the Summerfield Elementary neighborhood. My mother heard that our old house is now boarded up. I wanted to investigate, but I’d been told by a few people, including one at the dinner-dance the night before, that the area is now “rough” and I should be careful: Lock your doors, and don’t stop.

"Victor and I had breakfast kitty-corner from the Genesee Valley. That’s where I had my first job at B. Dalton Bookseller 29 years ago.
"All along Miller Road I was struck by how much has changed—and a few things that are still the same: Kmart, and the building that housed Moy Kong. The restaurant is out of business, but I still remember Moy Kong’s [Left] delicious cubes of pressed duck. After we turned left on Ballenger Highway, I saw Clyde Burtrum Furs, apparently open. It has no significance other than that it tickled an ancient memory — print advertising? Radio? In any case, I was glad that it’s still around. I got shots of McLaren Hospital and King Arthur’s Pasties.

"We turned right onto Flushing — noticing the absence of Paddy McGee’s and Sorrento’s (the latter of which we will see later, out on Pierson Road) and continued east to Chevrolet Avenue. In moments we were driving past the boarded-up Longfellow Middle School, where I spent some miserable time back in the day.
"I was in a history class there once and had a near-breakdown, standing up and screaming at all my classmates that I didn’t know what they were doing there if they were going to make it impossible for teachers to teach or anyone to learn. Whew.

"A left on Mackin and a right on Milbourne, and I am walking home from school again, nine-years old.

"Milbourne is still a lovely street, with trees arching overhead and nice houses, each well-designed and well-proportioned. Some are less well-maintained than others, but I get no sense of danger. Grant you, this perspective could be foolish, and it is about nine in the morning. I point out where the Haases used to live on Clement Street, and where the little girl who pulled out her own eyelashes would stay sometimes with her dad near Begole.
"Turning onto Copeman from Chevrolet, the first two houses on the left were boarded up, one on the inside [Left]. A few other homes were empty or seriously bedraggled. I tried without success to identify the house of a girl named Dawn, who used to play The Carpenters Greatest Hits
over and over.

"Then we were at my old house. Although the porch roof was sad, with greenery growing from its sloped eaves, it was still the same house, somewhat funereal in atmosphere (always was) but also attractive in a quiet, stately way."


  1. Hi Sarah,
    I too grew up in your neck of the woods (Civic Park) and ran those neighborhoods, mostly in the 50's and 60's. I have been thinking lately about my Jr. High teachers and what an impact a couple of them had on me. Without a doubt, the teacher who gave me the most was Mr. Whitman in 8th grade English. He had us write a pretty complete book of English word and phrase usage that I still have today. He taught me how to speak & write with reasonable clarity. I hated it at the time, but have been grateful to him for most of my adult life. Thankyou Mr. Whitman. Were Mr. & Mrs Whitman still teaching English at Longfellow when you were there? Flint may be just an old factory town, but I was exposed to a first rate educational system.

    1. I, too, grew up on Milbourne, midway between Dayton & Hamilton. I loved the walk to Longfellow. I also enjoyed Mr. Jenkin's English class, diagramming sentences. Sorry it had gotten so bad for you. I was only there for 7th grade (53/54)

  2. I'm afraid I don't know the answer, GH. For some of my middle school life, we lived out of the country (my Mom's home, the UK), and then once the Academy opened I left Longfellow. I was there for 7th grade and a little piece of 8th. I only remember Mr. Wiltse (social studies), who married the art teacher... and that I was very unhappy there -- at Summerfield, next door, you prepped in fear for Longfellow.

  3. I grew up on Chevrolet between Concord and Clement. I witnessed the full spectrum of disintegration of that neighborhood from the mid-70s to the late 80s. Its hard to describe the rate of decline to anyone who wasn't there. I heard that earlier last year, a family was shot in their heads while driving down Chevrolet. Sheesh....

  4. My mother grew up in the Civic Park area and she has so many wonderful memories of her childhood. Her home is now boarded up as well. Many houses are boarded on her old street. (Mt. Elliott)I have many wonderful memories of thios area as well because I visited my grandmother and uncle many times.Your journey mirrors mine sarah. The first time I saw my grandma's house all bedraggled and run down and smashed up...I cried for hours. There is a for sale on it now. i had a dream that I came back adn fixed it youth is slipping away.

  5. GH;
    I lived through the 60's several blocks over from Milbourne on Berkley St. In 1963 I had both the Whiteman's (I think there was an "e" in their name)at Longfellow. He for English and her for Latin. Until you jogged my memory, I haven't thought of them for many years. I can see him swaying back and forth while singing his "I, you, he, she, we, you, they, him, her, us, you, me, them" pronoun song. Gosh, they don't instruct like that anymore! I think I recall reading in the Flint Journal in the early 70's that they were both retiring from teaching

  6. I lived in the neighborhood, too, in the 60s--on Mallery, just north of Ballenger. That was a good place to grow up--in the day. Alas, too many "bars" there now.

    Am I hallucinating, or did Mr. Whiteman have curly silver/black hair? I remember Mr. Clevenger--he threw scissors at one of the kids one day. I guess he'd reached his boiling point. Then there was the teacher that had the "white stuff" in the corners of his mouth--what was his name? Come to think of it, that may have been Mr. Clevenger.

    Ah, the memories...

    Nice house, Sarah!


  7. Mr. Clevenger - I loved him in the sixth grade, he was so much fun... and then a black friend shared, years later, that he was the most racist teacher - actually physically confrontational - that she had encountered in the Flint schools. I was stunned.

    The guy with the white flecks on his mouth, was that (dare I print this name) Mr. Willie?? The math teacher?

    Thanks for your kind perspective on the house, ChurchGuy. I'll be sure to share it with my Mom, who still misses that house.

  8. I was probably classmates with Church Guy and Anonymous--I certainly remember Mr. Whiteman and his pronoun song. Since you are talking about my old neighborhood, I thought I would post a picture of my house on Prospect St., which is for sale, if anyone wants a bargain at $16,ooo.

    1. I lived at 2710 Prospect. Attended Longfellow, then last from our neighborhood to go to Flint Central.

  9. Oh, Sarah--you got me LOL here! :^)

    Mr. Willie(sp)? Could have been--might have been. I'd forgotten all about Mr. Willie.

    Longfellow Trivia:
    If any of you were present for the serial showings of "The Creature From the Black Lagoon," during lunch hour, I was the guy upstairs running the projector, splicing the film, and changing the reels. I also was the guy who put up the red and blue floodlights in the gym for the dances (remember those), and I used to work after school making coffee and opening up rooms for the adult education night classes.

    I'm sitting here wondering how I got that job.

    You guys are really maxxing out my memory chips!


  10. Sarah Did your Mom belong to the Trans-Atlantic-British Club? It was quite large back in the 60's and 70's. My mom was a transplant to Flint. Paddy McGees on St Pats day I was always there. There was good time growing up on the west side. At the time you was at B. Dalton I had my first job at Sears. Easy days back then.

  11. I was right in there with my pal the Church Guy. How about Mrs Stanton the music teacher who had us copy endless pages of outlines on the classic composers that she would have on the blackboard. Then there was long and tall and ooooold Mrs Walters, the art teacher. Don't even get caught wasting paper. My favorite was Mrs Bloomenthall (sp), the beatnik teacher. She had those way-out triangle shapped glasses, beret, big sweaters, the whole bit. She would haul this huge bag over her shoulder onto her back. I swear it would'a strained a sherpa. She called us "people". She'd say "that will be quite enough people". Alright, that's quite enough.

  12. FYI: I posted something earlier about the youth baseball program that played on the Longfellow baseball field. The photos don't really show much of the neighborhood, but I thought I'd pass along the URL:

    And I spent many meals at Ruggero's while I was growing up. I loved going there.

  13. Luigi's on the Eastside,
    Ruggero's on the West,
    When eating out Italian,
    These ranked as old Flint's best!

    Pizza from either of these places was a special treat the Gearhart house.

    Those were the pre-Domino's days. (The first Domino's Pizza franchise store opened in Ypsilanti, MI in 1967.)

    Hey, I'm getting hungry!

    Surfing around the pizza sites, I found the wikipedia article on Pizza Hut pretty interesting. (

    I did like that out-of-tune piano playing dixieland at Shakey's Pizza Parlor out there on Clio Road.

    Okay, that's it, I'm gettin' me something to eat and pack for my trip to Michigan tomorrow. Y'all have a great week. I'll tell Flint you said "Hi!"

  14. What I remember on Clio Rd (besides the Golden Point & McDonalds) was Farrells.... my Mom was always horrified by that huge order that they challenged you to eat.

    And at Summerfield, Mrs. Mrozik was the music teacher. Weirdly, she taught us all the armed forces songs. She looked like a collection of melons. My best friend's dad had an affair with her, and that truly messed up the casting for the school play (my best friend got, then mysteriously lost, the lead).

    I had to email my mother about the Trans-Atlantic Society, I'll let you know if I get a response.

    1. I went to Summerfield & I remember Mrs. Mrozik was married 3 times while I was there, when divorce was a little less common. I graduated in 1989 & grew up on Golfside by Mott Park.

    2. Ferrells, Oh yeah! I think they had a player piano. I do remember waiters in old-timey costumes (red suspenders/stripes/straw hats?) and how they would bring out "the Pig's trough" or the "Pikes Peak" out on a stretcher-like rig which took two waiters to hold up as a siren sounded. They would sort-of gallop around to show it off en route to your table. Inventive but a bit bizaree now that I think about it. Such character!

  15. "A collection of melons"? I love that...although I'm not absolutely sure I know what you mean.

  16. Wow, what a trip down memory lane Sarah. It's funny you brought up Longfellow. I've always told my kids stories about how easy they have it now compared to the jail-like environment at Longfellow. I also remember Mrs Mrozik except I had her at Anderson elementary. Sorrentos, Rugeros...spent many a night there too. I grew up on Welch Blvd near Ballenger. We had a nice pool which I understand was later filled in with dirt and the house boarded up. Nice...

  17. Farrells was close (if not next door) to Shakey's on Clio. What a classy place that was--and really very out of place in that particular location. It sure was fun, though--especially when they ran through up and down the aisles and around the tables to deliver "The Zoo." "Anything Worth Eating Has Calories." (From the Farrell's menu.)

    And, yeah, thanks, Sarah, for fanning these memory flames.

    And, to you, John (JBing50)--I never have gotten over your moving out of the neighborhood. Rejection, abandonment, feelings of inferiority. Can you feel this pain? Thanks a lot! :^)

    You'll be happy to know that my one and only wife of 36+ years graduated from Ainsworth, too!

    Oh, and does anybody remember Mr. Majeski from Longfellow? I'm thinking he was the instrumental music teacher. And, somebody, please help me remember the name of the speech teacher in the mid-60s. Please! Mr. ______________.

    1. Do you remember Mr. Kuhn? He was also, a music teacher..He was the nicest teacher. I though, he so good-looking..I had the most memorable moments at Longfellow..What a great time in my life..

  18. Was it Mr. Hill? I do believe it was.

  19. Randy, let it least for tonight. You've got a big trip ahead of you tomorrow. lol.

  20. Sarah, Great memeories. My Aunt lived on the corner of Milbourne & Prospect. I lived in the Civic Park area--Humboldt & Jackson--but, spent lots of time at my Auntie's house. She made the best fried chicken in the family! :{)

    Remember going to the Wimpy burger ...on Chevrolet? to pick up dinner on the off nights that chicken wasn't on the menu. Thanks for the trip. :{) -- KenR

  21. Just one more thing.... When the Westside market on the corner of Ballenger and Flushing burned, we stood at the windows in Mr. Willy's room and watched the black smoke billowing up. This must have been around 1961 because that would have been 6th grade. I'm trying to remember the stores on that block. There was Westside Mkt on the corner, Ben Franklins with the hardware store attached, Underhill Drug store, Economy Floors and some doctors office.Was there something between the Westside Mkt. and B.F.?

  22. Gaines Jewelers. Later, there was a video store on the corner, a seedy video arcade, an ice cream shop... a Pumpernickels across the street?

    That was/is one heckuva stretch o' Flintness. 777 Party Store (grab me a fifth of Wolfschmidt Vodka), Supreme Doughnuts, Golden Gate Coney Island, Barber College, Chambers, Diplomat Pharmacy, Beaver's Market/Salvation Army, Lafferty's/Point After/Bikini Bar/Neighbor's Pub, Paddy McGee's, Sorrentos (yuck), that nasty restaurant across the street from Sorrentos (Was it called Pella's?), Burger Chef/Captain Cody's, King Arthur's, King's Armor, C-C-C-Coney Conexion, Hamady ($1.09 40s of Black Label), the combo collision shop/pet store on Flushing and Sutton, Michigan Video, Jumbo Video, Troy Cleaners (c'mon, how could one not appreciate the majesty of ever lovin' Troy Cleaners?) and of course the short-lived and much-maligned Murph's Cafe. One could go on and on. In fact I just did.

    Can any other commercial district in Fli... nay, the WORLD compare with such a stunning array of commerce? With all of that action why'd you want to go anywhere else? Richfield and Center? HA. Fenton and Atherton? Puhleeze. The Magnificent Mile? Gimme a break. The Istanbul Bazaar? Maybe you like paying premium prices for your Hot Pockets and King Cobra. Smart shoppers know that hustle, bustle, and true value reside on the border of Flint town and township. Book a room for your retirement at Kith Haven NOW.

  23. Gee Wally, that Ballenger and Flushing Wurstside talks about don't sound nuttin like the one I remember.

    Aw cut it out Beaver, you know nothing stays the same. All those places you liked are long gone now.
    Besides, if Dad caught you messin around down there he'd murder ya. Now go to sleep before I come over there and clobber ya myself.

    Ok Wally...... Hey Wally

    What Beav

    I think i'd kinda sorta'd like to remember it like it was anyhow. You know, cause I don't live there anymore.

    Whatever you say Beaver.

  24. I had forgotten all about Farrells - what memories! The best was when they began to blow all the whistles and blink all of the lights, although I can't remember WHY they did that. It may have been for birthdays, but it may have had something to do with that massive bowl that Sarah was refering to.

    I wonder if Mr. Tucker still has Paddy McGee's - I heard that he bought it when he retired from Powers.

  25. Hey jbing, the more things change the more they stay the same. Most o' the places I mentioned are long gone too. Lets grab a few pints of Relsky at Happy Boy, head on over to Eldorado Vista Park, hash out our differences, and then have our casts set by the old bone doctor dude on Flushing Rd. Dunno his name, but he's been there for decades- probably since you were around.

    As far as remembering the way it used to be... yea, I feel ya... but c'mon, take a look around Triple 7. Whatta selection!!! Ye goode olde days yielded a 6 pack o' Drewerys and a half pint of Popov at best. The plethora of intoxicants to be found nowadays can't be beat... drink up, bub cuz drinking to forget is better than forgetting to drink. YOWZA.

    CONFIDENTIAL to Banzai Bozo: Big Bear, Coqui 900, Yuengling you name it... its on me.

  26. First, my Mom responded and said YES, she belonged to some-or-other British group that included many (other) teachers (Mom was also a teacher). But she doesn't remember a single name, not even the name of the group. Soo.... maybe? And as far as the plethora of businesses at Paddy McGees' corner (tho' I loved the list), I think that all I saw there on this trip was a cleared lot.

  27. I grew up on Clement, just off chevrolet..Great area during the 50s and 60s to live. I remember Mr Whightman from Longfellow, je passed away a couple of years ago. Mr Wiley once made me stand in front of the class and repeat 100 times "I will talk slower" Hard for a shy little girl..I also remember Wimpys for a great burger and shopping at Robbys for school clothes...

  28. Wurstside, It would be an honor to slam some Ukrainian swill with such a stalwart Flintite as yourself. However for the lasy 35 years I've lived near the shores of Lake Superior and trips to the old stompin grounds are few and far between.

    Do yourself a favor and try a tour of the brew pubs of Gods Country. You'll find em in Paradise, Grand Marais, Marquette, Ishpeming and Houghton to name a few.

    By the way, what's Eldorado Vista? Does that relate to the Eldorado Drive between Mackin and Flushing Rd.?

    "Hires to ya" Sagebrush Shorty

  29. jbing50,
    Eldorado Vista was the first housing subdivision built on Eldorado drive. It went up in 1962 or 63. Before the evil contractors came with their bulldozers, it was massive rolling fields reachable from Sutton, Berkley, Raskob, etc. It was full of Pheasant nests, feral cats, homeless dogs, wild strawberries, and hhundreds of Monarch Butterflies. It was as close a Flint cty kid could come to living with nature and not leaving home. I happily spent my early teens in summertime there from 1960 to 62 until the area was destroyed by so-called "progress" with Eldeorado Vista. The last thing in my opinion the area needed at that time was oversized homes dwarfing the rest of the small houses. They were all owned by the 1960's version of today's yuppies. I wonder if they are foreclosed and abandoned like the nearby neighborhoods.

  30. my God...haven't thought of that place in years. I wonder how many little kids pee'd their pants or were traumatized for life by that noise and chaos? makes going to HoJo's for ice cream seem so mundane.And Longfellow-hogging all the good nooner movies! at Zimmerman we were usually stuck watching the old Rocket Man cliff hangers, or Buster Crabbe's Flash Gordon. or worse. I asked my Dad what he was doing on this date, back in '41, just for shytsengiggles. He ran down the confused radio reports the Family listened to on their porch on Chevrolet Ave, talking about the treacherous attack by Japan, and how he rode his bike around the neighborhood-Welsh, Ballenger, etc.-and seeing every family in the 'hood doing the same as his. Dad said he had to wait 2yrs. to join the Army, being only 16 at the time...
    Anyone remember the Dr.'s office there on Chevrolet, just north of Welsh? Dr. Lirones? He passed away just recently, and had a very distinguished War record-numerous citations and medals, a true Hero. He was our family physician for years, and attended Comm. Presbyterian Church w/my family.

  31. Sarah- That is neat that your Mom belonged to the club. The only names I know is Carol and Vera and I think they passed. There was so many of them in the group in Flint they could charter a plane and fly to England. Went back to England on and off many of times because of that club. Great speaking to you and looking forward to more blogs.

  32. I knew Dr. Lirones. I didn't know of his war record however. Was it WWII or Korea?

  33. WAW--
    I know who you are. I spent many a sunny afternoons in that pool. Please contact Gordie for my email. I want to catch up on you and your family. Where is Amy?

    Kathy Wallace

  34. Hey Kathy,

    We'll have to catch up. Amy was a Flint Expatriate for a while living in London and then in Florida for several years. Now she's back in the Flint area (Davison). I gave Gordie my email to pass along to you.

  35. This makes me want to cry. I lived at Norbert and Marquette and walked to Summerfield as a second grader (and was in the school choir with Mrs Mrozik). Imagine doing that now! My grandparents lived in that beautiful red brick house on the corner of Milbourne and Sloan. It has a full apartment upstairs that my great-grandparents used to live in. I just found out that it's for sale for $30,000. $30,000! WTF! And Longfellow's boarded up? I guess it's true-You can't go home again.

  36. I grew up on Berkley St. and had both Wightmans, and Clevenger.

    It was said that Mrs. M Wightman was fluent in seven languages, read read about 11,000 words a minute, five newspapers a day, 26 magazines a week (so don't try to plagerize!), and had a photographic memory. She told my class she hadn't missed a day of school in 25 years, and that she had no time for colds. For their entire marriage, she and Mr. Wightman dined out.

    Mr. Clevenger said one day that he was going to BREAK ALL THE RULES AND SHOW US HOW TO DIAGRAM SENTENCES. Everyone loved it. Imagine trying to get away with that today!

    I still remember this poem from Mr. Wightman's class:
    An epicure, dining at Crewe,
    found quite a large mouse in his stew,
    said the waiter, “Don’t shout,
    and wave it about,
    or the rest will be wanting one, too!

  37. I grew up on Berkley St. and had both Wightmans, and Clevenger.

    It was said that Mrs. M Wightman was fluent in seven languages, read read about 11,000 words a minute, five newspapers a day, 26 magazines a week, and had a photographic memory (so don't try to plagiarize!). She told the class she hadn't missed a day of school in 25 years, and that because she had no time for colds, didn't get any. For their entire marriage, she and Mr. Wightman dined out.

    Mr. Clevenger said one day that he was going to BREAK ALL THE RULES AND SHOW US HOW TO DIAGRAM SENTENCES. Everyone loved it. Imagine trying to get away with that today!

    I still remember this poem from Mr. Wightman's class:

    An epicure, dining at Crewe, found quite a large mouse in his stew, said the waiter, “Don’t shout,
    and wave it about, or the rest will be wanting one, too."

  38. I had Mr. Willey for Fifth Grade Math. He was a great teacher, and inspired me to take Math well into my college years. Also the third grade teacher, Mrs. Bea Marshall, was great at teaching Math. The Fourth Grade Math Teacher was HORRIBLE though. Can't remember her name. She gave timed multiplication table tests. She would keep moving the goal by starting the stopwatch EARLY. I could HEAR it ticking on the other side of the room. I called her on it and she became very belligerent. I almost always got As in Math from very early on. I got a B in Math that year. I didn't get another semester B in Math until I took Differential Equations in Graduate School.

  39. Remember the shopping center, I think it was just north of Mackin Rd. on Chevrolet Ave., where the original Ruggero's Pizzeria, McKay's Market, and Ryckman's Drug Store were?

    Remember that huge smokestack on the power building at Longfellow? Seems like they shortened it and then took it down completely.

    I started school right after Sputnik was sent up, and one would never have known the level of decline that would occur after that.

    I remember that they had accelerated high school courses for a while, but political correctness forced their sublimation to certain class sections. Now most schools call them AP.

    Valedictorians and Salutatorians and Homecoming Queens and Courts were also discontinued, though you still had a good idea who would have been selected.

    I was told that there were student council conversations about these things where they voted on unpublished lists, but it was not a subject for official school comment.

  40. Clyde Burtrum Furs still has spots on Detroit Radio and TV, one of the few remaining spots sung by Larry Santos.

  41. Whoops, that's actually Dittrich Furs, though the music would work well for Clyde Burtrum also.

  42. I grew up on Raskob by Chevrolet and attended Summerfield and Longfellow, the area has made a huge change and it is unforunate for many they will never experience a childhood growing up in such a nice area. The area was great with its parks and shaded streets, all the familys that lived there and still recall the days. I recently ran into Rita Short my 3rd & 4th grade teacher at a doctors appointment, and she new by face, how amazing is that.

  43. Teachers And Administrators At Longfellow Elementary-Late 1950s-Early 1960s

    Mrs. James
    Mrs. Richardson
    Mrs. Belill
    Miss Harwood
    Mrs. Marshall
    Mrs. Powell
    Mrs. Green
    Miss Draper
    Mr. Bass
    Mrs. Walters
    Mrs. Stanton
    Mr. Willey
    Mrs. Traynor (later Lambertson)
    Dr. Mobley
    Miss Timm
    Mr. Olzewski
    Mr. Bigelow

    1. Does anyone remember who taught biology in the late 1960s?

    2. Cates, Apsey? So I am not crazy....... All of us were so deeply influenced by these people and places.... I remember thinking that to live in Flint I was the luckiest of people. Now lets talk Della Theater and the ice cream parlor next door where you could get a rainbow cone of five flavors or a huge banana split.... or the upscale clothing store across that street. Carol Baker Burnham Dill FCHS 1960

    3. Mr. Cates-science
      Mrs. Cates-math (algebra ?)
      Mr. Wightman-English...would sing for us occasionally...Water Boy, Huki Lau
      Mrs. Wightman-Latin
      Miss Barr- Art
      Mr. Hill-Drama
      Mr. Walters-Metalshop
      Mr. Auten-Woodshop
      Mr.Hamsher-Common Learnings (Geography/Civics/History
      Miss Vantine (sp?)-Math
      Mr. Hinkle-Gym
      Anybody remember the pizza place that was on Clio Rd., probably between Pasadena and Pierson.....would have been around '68
      Ogorek (King of the Hill) Studebaker
      Just got a case of M&S cream soda and a box each of Mickey's JimJams and Banana Flips from a guy on Ebay that has a time machine ($27,000 shipping is a bit steep)........

  44. "Milbourne Memories" I just read this comment series from the 08 post. I have to say that it is the consummate collection of any neighborhood post on this blog. I had relatives in that neck of the woods and spent a lot of time traipsing from Ballenger Park to Civic Park, Iroquois Park, and Chevrolet Ave to Flushing Rd. I remember some of the names of folks that were mentioned during that era and the tranquility of that beautiful collection of neighborhoods that comprised that section of Flint. I swam at Haskell, played pick-up football games on Comm.Pres's nice lawn and picknicked at Forrest Park when the zoo was still there. Played basketball at Longfellow when McKinley JH was their opponent. Knew a couple of the teachers on the staff there.Shortly before Dr. Frank Manley put together the best community school system in the United States. A show place middle school concept that had interns coming in from Canada, Europe, and Australia to study it's structure and after school adult and student enrichment programs with the help $$$ of the Mott Foundation. Pat Barley and the thirteen original Community Directors were in place when I returned from the service. What a collection of quality and effective individuals they were. Anyway, I got a lot of good visual memories from reading you guys' remarks. Thanks.

  45. I was at Longfellow from 1954-1957. I had Mrs. Wightman for three years of Latin (took 4th year at Central) and Mr. Wightman was my homeroom teacher, in addition to 8th grade English teacher. In addition to what has previously been said about him, I remember each year on the last day of school he would sing "Danny Boy" and to this day whenever I hear it, I think of him. Hilda Turbush was our math teacher ... Ryckman's Drug Store was across the street from Civic Park school. We used to have chocolate soda's and cherry phosphates sitting on those red bar stools and waiting for prescriptions to be filled. Gary Ryckman was a classmate of mine. We lived on Landon in the first house off Dayton and then moved around the corner on Brownell and lived in the two story brown house across from the woods.

  46. They still had four years of Latin in the 1950s? I think that must have changed soon after. I think there were only two years after that. Mrs. Helene Foster taught Latin at Southwestern for second year Latin, and Mr. Dale Kildee taught Latin at Central. I don't know if Northern and Northwestern had Latin or not. Southwestern was the highest scoring school for a few years on the National Latin Exam, administered by Dr. Worlsey.

    1. I grew up on Milbourne between Hamilton and Dayton. Went to Civic Park, Longfellow and then Southwestern. If you remember the area, you should read Teardown by Gordon Young. He has a chapter specifically covering Milbourne between Hamilton and Dayton as the only viable block in the greater area. Does anyone know where Helene (Burns) Foster is now? Is she still alive? I called Mr. Grindstaff (Civic Park) a few years ago and thanked him for his influence on me. He was 90 years old and still coherent. He remembered me. I was stunned.

    2. Mrs. Lincoln taught Latin at the old Northern when I was there (66-67)

  47. Lynn, who taught Latin at Central when you were there? Does anyone else know how long Henrietta Lewis taught there? I seem to remember that she taught up to the time Dale Kildee taught there. Does anyone else have stories regarding Henrietta Lewis and Dale Kildee teaching Latin there?

  48. I grew up on the corner of Thomas and Norbert, a couple of blocks from Mott Park and went to Longfellow K-9 (Summerfield was built after I was out of elementary school. I remember the Whitemans tho steered clear of their classes. Didn't the Cates (husband and wife, Ralph and Helen) also teach at Longfellow? They were good friends of my parents and lived just a couple of houses away on Thomas. I had the misfortune of having Miss Harwood for both 3rd and 4th grade, such a sour woman! My mother told me later that she wasn't really fit to be a teacher becasue she didn't really like kids.
    Regarding Mrs. Stanton, I have a vivid memory of passing her in the hall during class change the afternoon of November 22, 1963. Another teacher was talking to her and a look of absolute terror came over her face. I remember how odd it seemed at the time but a few minutes later I knew why. We were in Mr Willy's math class when the principal came over the PA to tell us. I remember I had never seen so many adults cry or be traumatized.
    It all seemed unreal to me as JFK was just somebody on TV and people on TV died all the time.

  49. Mrs. Wightman was one of those teachers who truly cared about her students, as did her husband, Paul. WE were their children. They expected a lot from us, but we learned because they believed so fully in us. Mr. Willey crooned Moon River like no other. Mr. Clevenger, Mrs. Lambertson - such incredible teachers. Another generation - Mr. (Rick) Vosburg - is still as cool as he was back then - only with much less hair ;-) Yes, my old, beautiful house was boarded up the last time I was there. It was such a safe, incredibly wonderful place to grow up.

    I grew up on Prospect Street, two blocks east of Ballenger Highway.

    1. Did you know the Kingsburys ? They lived on the corner of Ballenger and Stevenson.
      The Hogans lived around there, too. Mr. Hogan owned Longfellow Barber Shop on Chevrolet at Mackin. I was back in town in '03 and the barber shop had moved to Corunna and Dye and was run by his son.

    2. I knew Dr Kingsbury. He and his family lived on the Corner of Fremont St. and I think it was Bagley St. He was our family Doc for many years. I left Longfellow in 7th grade and went to St John Vianney 8th-12th. My Sister was in the last graduating class there before Powers opened.

  50. Somewhere Near The Hammerberg RoadOctober 11, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    Last night, I dreamed vividly that Mrs. Stanton had come back to lecture at Longfellow, after an absence of nearly 50 years. She seemed to be a caricature of herself, notwithstanding the fact that she would now be well over 100 years old if alive. I managed to be in my seat five minutes before the bell rang, sparing me a visit to Dr. Mobley’s office, only to discover I’d forgotten my lined, bound notebook. Fortunately there was a handout to write on.

    1. Any Freudian analysts out there? This definitely demands interpretation by an expert.

    2. Somewhere Near The Hammerberg RoadOctober 11, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      I forgot to mention that Mrs. Stanton didn't look anywhere near as tall as I remembered. Further research reveals that Mrs. Stanton resided on Ida Avenue, also just a couple of blocks from The Hammerberg Road. Her husband's investment office was on Court St., across from Mobley Park, named for Mayor Mobley, Longellow Principal Dr. Mobley's father. How's that for connecting the dots?

    3. Somewhere Near The Hammerberg RoadOctober 11, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      Dr. Jack Mobley was the Longfellow Principal's full name. Charles Mobley was the Flint Mayor's full name. Why do I refer to "The" Hammerberg Road? I have been watching syndicated "Hogan's Heroes"reruns on MeTV M-F at 10:00 PM. It cracks me up when they talk about "The Hammelburg Road" which connects Stalag 13 to nearby Hammelburg, Germany in the series. Hammelburg was definitely a long day trip to Paris, where they famously travelled in the series. You can learn a lot about Geography from the series if you look it up. It's more fun than "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego".

  51. I lived on Fremont St during that time and went to Longfellow. I remember most of those teachers including Mrs Stanton. I worked at Mudges Mkt on Chevrolet Ave next door to the drug store. And was working at a Sav-Mor when Sorrento's first opened next door to us. The Chef was brought over from Sicily. My Dad ran the Post Office on Flushing Road. I also went to SJV High School. I can remember taking the bus into downtown to go to the Palace or the Capital to see movies and shopped at the new Montgomery Wards. I havent been there since the early 70's

    1. I remember the Sav Mor store on Flushing Road. They played an FM radio through the PA System in the store. It was the first time I ever heard an FM station besides the WFBE programs we heard over the PA System at Longfellow. It was about 1963 or 1964, and they had WXYZ-FM on in the store, which became WRIF in 1971.

  52. Mrs. Stanton was our homeroom teacher from 4th thru 6th grade, that was the way it worked back then. On the last day of school in our 6th grade, she stood up and told us that this was her last year as a teacher, she was retiring, and we were the cause, as we were the worst class she had ever taught. We were jerks, no doubt, but I always thought this was a little over-the-top.

  53. Somewhere Near The Hammerberg RoadOctober 12, 2015 at 8:15 PM

    Wow. I think I was in Mrs. Stanton's Homeroom. I remember getting yelled at for singing too loud once, but that couldn't have been it. Glad I left Longfellow after the 5th Grade! Couldn't have been me.

  54. Does anyone here remember a student named Jeff Krakauer at Longfellow, Southwestern, or Central back in the late 1950s or early 1960s? All this news is coming out about Jon Krakauer, who wrote the book that the movie "Everest" is based on, and somewhere, Jeff Krakauer came to mind.

    1. I graduated from Northern High School in 1968. I remember a guy named Jeff Krakauer who was a year ahead of me. I didn't know him, but I knew of him.

    2. He might have been two years ahead of me at Northern.

  55. I was in Mrs. Stanton's Homeroom. One day, I was working on Homework. I broke my pencil and quietly let out an expletive. Christine Handell heard me and threatened to tell Mrs. Stanton. It was the last week of school, but it was a fearful one. I don't think Chris ratted me out.

  56. I'm glad I lived and went to school in Flint when I did. It was a great place then. Later, not so much. Try looking through lists of people you might have gone to school with somewhere else, on Facebook or Classmates type lists. Scary, and I'm not the only one who says this.

  57. Does anyone remember (or went to) The Raskob Units?
    They were a part of Longfellow Elementary in the late 1950's and the early to mid 1960's.

    They were four one room units. They looked like Double Wide Mobile homes.
    Three of them were on Raskob Street and the last one was on the side street.
    (I cannot remember the name of that street)
    Seems they were torn down because I tried to find them on Google Maps.

    Anyways they were set up K-3rd grade.
    Each Unit was a Grade and you moved to the next one after finishing your Grade until you moved to the last one on the side street.
    Except for whatever reason our class moved from the Kindergarten Unit straight to the 3rd grade one and finished 1st-3rd in that one Unit...I never knew as to why.

    I can only remember the 3rd Grade Teacher's name.
    Mrs Fishkin.
    I was in her class (3rd Grade) when she got a phone call.
    (Her Unit was the only one with a land line)
    I always will remember that because she received the call about JFK being shot.
    All the other teachers came over and were crying.
    Mrs Fishkin simply told us to go home.
    Even though were were young we understood and we were very sad too.

    I lived at 2711 Berkley Street.
    We walked to the Units everyday.
    We even went home for lunch.

    They were good memories...

  58. Longfellow was still great in the late 60's, but went downhill rapidly after that, as did the neighborhood. My brother is busy snapping pictures of the houses in the immediate neighborhood that are slated for demolition. They seem to be concentrating on that area. If you want to see your old house, you'd better do it soon.

  59. I lived at the corner of Milbourne and Welch from 1970-1974 that's when I left Flint.

  60. Wow, this thread just goes on and on. That is great. I see that I started it in 2008, questioning if anyone remembered Mr. Whiteman. What a response. Can't resist adding more stew meat to the pot. Once in 7th grade homeroom, Mr. Miller (with one arm) came in and we were all (boys and girls) acting up. He blew his top, lined up all the boys and had us grab our ankles. Then he gave us each a swat on the hind-end. The girls of course skated by with a warning. I remember that almost all of us gritted our teeth and took it like a man. I read some years later that he had an accident cleaning his shotgun and blew a leg off. Now that is some real bad luck. He was a pretty nice guy when he kept the paddle in his desk. They were good teachers, but they had real short fuses. Regards to all.......GH


Thanks for commenting. 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