Flint Expatriate Lanny Hayes looks back on hometown and Christmas with his family.
Whenever I think of Flint, I think of Mom.
My grandparents moved to Flint from the farms around Bay City and Frankenmuth after the Great War. My Mom, Elaine Daenzer, was born in Flint in 1924 to Paul and Emma. They lived in a modest home on Clement Street around the corner from Longfellow Junior High [left].
My grandfather, a veteran who saw action in France, worked at Chevy in the Hole from 1923-50. Grandma worked for AC and Mom joined her there in 1945 and stayed for 20 years.
We lived in a little starter home on Winona Blvd before moving to 3201 Mackin Road in 1965. Dad worked for Buick, and Mom retired that year to spend more time with her little family.
Flint was in its glory. The economy was good and we lived the American dream. What a wonderful life it was. I went to St. Paul Lutheran School on Ballenger Highway. I think we saw every Disney movie ever made at the Capitol. There was the circus, ice capades, and swimming lessons at Central High pool. Friday night was shopping night with my grandparents. We lived from holiday to holiday because Mom loved them all and celebrated each one to the hilt. Christmas was the highlight and she went full bore. Thanks Mom.
She traveled all over the country and to Europe and thought Flint was the best place there ever was. She would have been broken hearted to see Flint become a punchline and a shell of its former self. Mom loved Flint. She was born there, lived her whole life there and died way too soon at the age of 45 after wasting away in McLaren hospital from cancer, leaving three devastated little children behind. Christmas is bittersweet now. I remember how much she loved it, and it hurts to think of all the ones we couldn’t share together.
I left for Florida in 1977 and haven't been back since. I don't know the Flint of boarded up houses; I only have the memories of how great it was to grow up there. After things started going bad and Flint was making national news for all the wrong reasons, I used to derisively tell people that Flint was a great place to be from...far from. Now 31 years have gone by and I would love to see the old town at least once more. Life is funny, like the weather ball it is always changing. I now live in East Tennessee after 28 years in Florida. However, one thing can’t change. I am from Flint, Michigan and will always be from Flint. I may be long gone but as long as I can remember Mom, Flint will be right next to her in my heart.