Monday, August 11, 2014


The Michael in the title is Michael Moore. OK, so I don't know him and all we share is a Flint, Michigan
connection.  Pretty important for both of us.  It can't hurt to toss out the name of somebody famous. Michael got famous for "Roger and Me, " his film about General Motors' part in the near death of that once great city.
I got famous in Flint ... alright maybe not that famous... as a hotshot deejay in Flint Radio. That was 1950.  Was I cute, or what? Another famous Flint name is William "Billy" Durant.  He founded General Motors in 1908. There was a Durant Hotel.  I don't know if it's still there.  And a Durant auto, too.

Flint was still a big prosperous GM town when I was there. That's where  I met my wife, a radio fan and our first child was born there. Relatives and in-laws worked at the auto plants. I would not have met my wife but for the great migration of Southerners who came North for good factory jobs. 
I'm not a great fiction reader but I'm glad my wife was a John Grisham fan. I took a look at her copy of his 2001 novel, "A Painted House." It was a tale of an Arkansas family and their trek to Flint for work. My wife was born in Newport, Arkansas and they moved to the Flint area when she was three years old. When somebody mentions John Grisham I always ask if they read that one.

My wife, young son and I left Flint in 1954, the year that Michael Moore was born, in my big beautiful  white 1951 Dynaflow Special just like this one. Actually, the "Special" was the low end Buick model.  But I felt like I was driving a Roadmaster when that Dynaflow transmission wound up and she started to move. We  listened to Gisele MacKenzie sing "My Buick, my love and I," the theme song of "Uncle Miltie" Milton Berle's TV show.  Chevrolets went by,  families hearing  Dinah Shore's theme music, "See the USA in your Chevrolet." It was still a good time for Flint and General Motors and it got even better into the 60s.  One of the several radio jobs that I left, not exactly voluntarily, was at WTAC.  That stood for "The Auto City." A sign at the North end welcomed all to "Buick Town." A few years ago a long mothballed arch was dug out and re-erected over Saginaw Street. It originally proclaimed Flint "TheVehicle City."

By the time native son Michael Moore grew up, his town had fallen on terrible times. GM closed most local plants and moved to Mexico. Moore's documentary, "Roger and me" showed him demanding to see GM CEO Roger Smith to give him an earful about what he had done to Flint. Someone painted the sign when Flint was named one of the country's five most dangerous cities. 

What got my nostalgia juices flowing about all this history is a 1923 Durant that showed up in the Muskegon shop of friend Phil Schugars, a professional restorer of classic and antique cars. It's  owned by Ken Brink, a member of the Durant owners club.  His e-mail address even makes reference to the Durant name.  

Durant's company built other cars  including the Flint. Here's a classy 1925 Flint Touring Car.  Wouldn't it  have been the cat's meow to take your  best girl for a ride in this baby! Or the whole family. 

The first words I spoke into a radio microphone were "Going Forward With Flint." It hasn't worked out well for Flint or the Buick. She wasn't even 10 years old when the junkyard gave me twelve bucks for her.  Oh well, I have great memories.   I won't forget the town where my son and my Buick were born.