I was watching the news yesterday when I heard the newscaster say Flint, Michigan. I perked up my ears because that is my hometown. What I saw on that newscast broke my heart. They had a little girl talking about how afraid she is to walk down her own street by herself. She lives in a neighborhood that has a lot of abandoned, rundown and condemned houses where crackheads gather and she doesn't feel safe in her own home. It's hard for me to imagine Flint like that.
I grew up in Flint, Michigan when General Motors employed 80,000 people. Everyone you knew worked at the auto factories and kids out of high school got great jobs there. Now GM employs about 7,500 people and it's almost impossible to get a job.
I remember Flint's vibrant downtown area. We had big two and three story department stores like J.C Penney, Sears and Roebuck, Learners, and I think Macy's. Every Saturday, my grandpa would take my grandma and me and my little sister downtown and drop us off so Grandma could get her hair done. We would wait patiently for her and then she would take us to Woolworth's to sit at the soda fountain counter and get a Cherry Coke or sometimes a Root Beer Float. Then we would take the bus home or sometimes Grandpa would pick us up. Sometimes we would get to go to Kewpies for lunch as a special treat. I remember they had the best hamburgers and there was a big mural of a Kewpie doll painted on the side of the building. Kewpies is gone now and Bill Thomas's Halo Burgers took over. They might be gone now too.
When I was growing up in Flint we played outside during the summer from early morning until dark. We only came in for lunch and we didn't have to fear for our safety. We rode our bikes all over the neighborhood and that's just the way it was.
During the school year, we walked by ourselves to school, went to the corner store for candy and didn't fear anything.
I feel sad for my grandchildren that can't play like that anymore because of all the dangers they have to face today. I feel sad for that little girl in Flint that will never know how good that place used to be.