Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Memories of the Swayze Apartments


A reader is looking for any memories or information on the Swayze Apartments at 313 W. Court Street. Can anyone help him out? Thanks.

Tough Decisions on Flint School Closings

It appears the only thing tougher than actually closing schools in Flint is deciding which schools to close.

Blake Thorne of The Flint Journal reports on a meeting between parents and school board members last week to discuss various options:
One of those proposals included moving all high school students to two buildings.

The other included a system of all three high school buildings operating as grade 7-12 schools.

Both plans initially included closing Bunche, Carpenter Road and Summerfield elementary schools along with McKinley Middle School and Zimmerman Center, which houses Mott Adult High School.

Under one of the plans, all middle school students would move to the building that houses Southwestern Academy and Classical Academy, with those students moving to Northern High School.

That means Southwestern and Classical would still exist as the programs they currently are, but would operate as programs within Northern High School rather than having their own building.

The other plan calls for moving all secondary schools to the 7-12 grade configuration for all three high school buildings.

Plans, especially at the elementary level, have been changing and evolving, board and administration members told the crowd.

For example, closing Carpenter Road was abandoned after an outcry of community members complained there would be no elementary in a large area of the city. The plan became to close Pierce Elementary instead, but the board seems to have abandoned that idea as well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The G.M. Library


I visited my mom in Jacksonville, Florida this weekend and we made our regular visit to Chamblin's Book Mine, the most amazing used book store I've ever encountered. I've roamed the store, which is so big you can actually get lost, many times, but never noticed an entire aisle devoted to Chilton auto guides. Of course, G.M. was well represented.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Vulcans Drive Rivieras

Jane Avenue in 1940



I took this photo of 1634 Jane Avenue in the summer of 2010. It's on the infamous block ravaged by abandonment and arson. Last time I checked, there was only one house remaining. All the others, including this one, have been demolished or burned down. I had a special attachment to this little house because it reminded me of my 700 sq. ft. home in San Francisco, which was in bad shape not many years ago and was brought back to life by the woman who sold it to me.

The National Archives recently made documents from the 1940 Census available online, so I decided to look up 1634 Jane Avenue. At that time, it was rented by William and Gwendoline Williams for $30/month. (Other houses on the block were valued at $2,300 to $3,000, not that different than what homes in the area might be worth today.) He was 35 and born in Montana. She was a year younger and hailed from England. They had two sons, ages 8 and 14. George Spenser, a 49-year-old Irishman, and Harold Daniels, a 35-year-old from England, are listed as boarders.

Go here to see the Census information on 1634 Jane. Go here for the National Archives 1940 Census website.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jacob Smith and the Founding of Flint


Anyone interested in Flint history should check out The Daring Trader: Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory, 1802-1825 by Kim Crawford, a former reporter at The Flint Journal.
A fur trader in the Michigan Territory and confidant of both the U.S. government and local Indian tribes, Jacob Smith could have stepped out of a James Fenimore Cooper novel. Controversial, mysterious, and bold during his lifetime, in death Smith has not, until now, received the attention he deserves as a pivotal figure in Michigan’s American period and the War of 1812. This is the exciting and unlikely story of a man at the frontier’s edge, whose missions during both war and peace laid the groundwork for Michigan to accommodate settlers and farmers moving west. The book investigates Smith’s many pursuits, including his role as an advisor to the Indians, from whom the federal government would gradually gain millions of acres of land, due in large part to Smith’s work as an agent of influence. Crawford paints a colorful portrait of a complicated man during a dynamic period of change in Michigan’s history.
You can order a copy here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Flint Phtotos: David Wallace in 1982


I found this 1982 press photo of David Wallace, a Flint attorney, for sale on eBay. No idea what the story is behind this shot. Perhaps Wallace was channeling author Tom Wolfe and his signature white suit.