“In the 1950s,” writes J. Eric Wise in “ The French Exit: A Detroit Love Story ,” Detroit was “outwardly living well, a very healthy city, technologically advanced, with economic diversity, prosperity, peace, and civil life supporting the arts and sciences.” That is no exaggeration, as this writer can testify.
As Wise explains, Detroit prospered enormously from World War II and attracted workers from far and wide. My father, a mechanical engineer, was among them. In 1952, he moved our family from Alliance, Ohio, to Detroit, Michigan. The Big Three automakers gave him all the work he could handle.
We rented the first floor of the house at 2010 Clements Street, pretty much in the middle of things. I helped my father shovel coal into the furnace down in the basement, perhaps the first work I ever performed. The streetcars were still running then and ice men plied the streets. There had been riots in 1943, as Wise notes, but in our experience race relations were cordial.
In May of 1953, my brother Phillip came along, a native Detroiter. Things were booming then, and that made for a thriving nightlife. As Joe Tex said in “ Detroit City ,” by day they made the cars, by night they hit the bars. Musicians, too, had all the work they could handle.
Jazz greats hailing from Detroit include Hank, Thad, and Elvin Jones, Gerald Wilson, Pepper Adams, Milt Jackson, Yusef Lateef, Donald Byrd, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, and many others. When we hit town, the trend was rhythm and blues, raucous, soulful music yet to be rebranded “rock and roll.”
Berry Gordy founded Motown records in 1959 but also developed the Gordy label, with singers such as Bunny Paul , from the European immigrant community. Here she is on “ We’re Only Young Once […]
Yes, We Need Your Help
I hate being “that guy” who asks people to donate because I think our conservative news network is so crucial, but here I am…
When I left my cushy corporate job in 2017, I did so knowing that my family would have to make sacrifices. But I couldn’t continue to watch the nation slip into oblivion and was inspired by President Trump’s willingness to fight the good fight even at his own personal expense. What I didn’t realize then is that conservative media would be so heavily attacked, canceled, and defunded that the sacrifices would be extreme.
Many in this nation are struggling right now even though we weren’t struggling just a few years ago. I’m not alone. But I wake up every morning and operate the sites we’ve been able to build because there’s really no other choice. I refuse to be beholden to Big Tech like so many other conservative news outlets, which is why you won’t see Google ads here. With that said, it’s often challenging to pay the bills and it’s even harder to expand so we can get the America First message out to a wider audience.
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