Wednesday, March 16, 2016

From Boom to Bust: A Brief History of Flint, Michigan

A brief, breezy and highly personalized history of Flint, Michigan. With footnotes. A few samples:
My hometown, I discovered, was founded on a shady, under-the-table land deal. A ruse, a feint, a dodge. A swindle, to put it another way.
It was a dubious day in local history, one unlikely to be commemorated by a plaque or a marker. What is arguably Flint’s first permanent structure — built by a man who could be considered its first speculator and failed businessman — became its first abandoned property. Obviously, it wouldn’t be the last.
My mother showed me black-and-white photos of my grandparents from their early years in Flint. I remembered my grandma wearing modest house dresses she had sewn herself, accented with blue canvas Keds when she worked around the house. But here she was with her hair in a stylish bob and dressed in full flapper mode. My grandpa was decked out in a tailored suit with wide, peaked lapels and a fedora set at a rakish angle. They were both smiling, their arms around each other, gazing straight at the camera. They looked like Bonnie and Clyde, not the low-key couple I remembered. America was making the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy, and my grandparents seemed happy to be a part of it all, eager for what might happen next. Flint and my family had a far different history than I had imagined.
To read the rest, visit Medium.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Gordie, I enjoyed the history lesson. It's always interesting to read about our ancestor's antics. I wonder what sort of opinions Flintoids in the year 2100 will have towards us. Hopefully, they will uncover more good than bad.


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