Thursday, August 25, 2011

Home Away From Home

With all the decay and destruction on the East Side, I always prepare myself for the worst whenever I drive by my grandparent's old house, where my mom was raised and I spent a lot of time, on Illinois Avenue. And I continue to be amazed when I see how good it still looks on each visit. The current owners are always nice to me when I knock on the door, and I'm hoping they never move. Having been back to Flint half a dozen times over the last three years, I'm past the point of getting upset when my memories collide with Flint's current reality, but it's still great to run across a house or building that means something to you and discover that it's still close to the way you remember it.


  1. It's a bittersweet moment seeing your childhood home in Flint. Your brain recognizes the old homestead, but the trees have all changed.

  2. Yeah, you have to have a hierarchy of expectations:

    1. Is the house still there?
    2. If it's there, is it in such bad shape that you wish it wasn't there?
    3. Is it on fire?
    4. Can you even recognize it?

    I'm not trying to be funny here. In a lot of neighborhoods, these are real possibilities. That's why I'm so happy that my grandparent's house has survived. It's only had three owners since around 1930, and they've all cared for the house. I guess it's that continuity that's lacking in so many parts of the city.

  3. That's the style of my old house on Grace St.

  4. I was filled with nostalgia when I saw the picture of my childhood home on Illinois Ave. Affectionately known in our family as "1515". It was a haven for me and all my children for many years. I am sure it is no accident that it has continued to be occupied by good people who have maintained not only the outside but the spirit within.

  5. Nice! Wish I could say the same about the house I grew up in on Poplar Street. :-(


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