Friday, December 9, 2011

Flint Photos: Charles Pohrt and the Buick in the 1920s

Author, illustrator, and Flint Expatriate Tom Pohrt sent me these photos of his grandfather, Charles Pohrt, taken at the Buick, probably sometime in the 1920s. Charles was a tool and die maker.

The drop forge die sinking room at the Buick.

Charles, smoking a pipe, with two co-workers.


  1. The foundation of America's manufacturing prowess was our nation's extraordinary capabilities at engineering, millwrighting and tool and die making.

  2. At least they had jobs... Between GM and the UAW the job base in Michigan and the U.S. has gone to hell in a hand basket. C.S. Mott tried his best to turn Flint into a utopia but people being what they are have turned it into one of the biggest dystopias in America. I am glad to be out of there.

  3. Like many, you condemn the whole experiment based on some negative results, Anonymous. The experiment had a lot of successes. When I constantly encounter people who have never even been in Flint or have maybe passed through the small part on I-75 within the City Limits near Bishop Airport, all 30 seconds while crouching down in the car to avoid stray gunfire, I am constantly amazed at how inaccurate their perceptions are.

    The City that I grew up in is obviously a lot different today. But people make the assumption that we are all the lowest form of life for even growing up in Flint. Their perception is frequently tainted by the network TV media, and even Michigan media outside Flint, who seek to make themselves look better, or just "not as bad". Kind of like the hastily made Cleveland promotional video that touts itself as "at least we're not Detroit".

    I think you would be amazed at how many success stories there are of Flint "Expatriates", many of whom are not that far from the city.

    My favorite quote for naysayers is "Flint. Coming soon to a city near you."

  4. Dear Not Anonymous.......Actually some of the most talented and intelligent people I have known come from Flint. I am just sorry that GM and the UAW has killed off what could have been a world-class city. I was born in Hurley Hospital
    and there are very few if any places in Flint I haven't been. Fortunately there are 1000's of towns and cities that are fulfilling the promise Flint displayed so many years ago.

  5. Wonderful images of those times. I was moved by Mr. Charles Pohrt at his craft and posed with his pipe. My own Grandfather, Harvey Crane, enjoyed a pipe too. After returning from WW I, he started at Chevy and eventually made it to Buick in 1931. At Buick, he worked in various locations from stamping to welding and eventually retired as a Tool and Die man in 1956. He was often in charge of stamping out the commemorative metal ash trays for retirements or other company events. Those shiny trays included the retiree's name or party title with the date. In 1973, we callously tossed his collection when we moved my widowed Grandmother out of their beloved 1529 Indiana Ave East Side home.


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