"Oh-ho say can you see . . ."
Dull green with yellow tips, the hefty cranes up on towers cluster, sporting the markings of Bethlehem Steel. Amid them, incongruously, are nestled the white-tipped black yardarms of a three-masted sailing ship, the U.S.S. Constellation.
"By the dawn's early light . . ."
From the top of a rise in the lush park, the eye slowly pans the horizon. The park is on a sharp point of land guarding the harbor, which surrounds it on all sides. The view is of brick smokestacks and white and black water towers. Across the harbor over to the left, a tall, blocky gray tower with the look of a grain elevator is actually a storage place for concrete. LEHIGH CEMENT, it says on the side. A real grain elevator, its tall cylinders bound together like a monstrous six-pack, looms in the other direction, dwarfing the crab apple trees of Fort McHenry.
"What so proudly we hailed . . ."
Actually, dozens of cranes spike the horizon, a closer examination reveals. The Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock yard over to the right has its collection, as does the Dundalk Marine Terminal, and many more belong to industries even lifelong residents can't readily identify from this perspective. The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a businesslike crisscross of steel, carries the Baltimore Beltway over the wide water. The smoky black, coal-dust-covered pier, much the worse for wear, belongs to Consolidated Coal. It had once helped fuel the industrial behemoth that was the envy of the world - the gritty cities of North America's industrial Northeast. Now, the pier needs a lot of work.
'At the twilight's last gleaming . . . '
The Continental soldiers march with great precision, in their blue swallowtailed coats with red trim and gold buttons. Their pants and leggings are as white as the George Washington wigs under their three-cornered hats. Pennants are layered as thick as palm fronds over one of the flags they carry. The pennants say things like CENTRAL BURMA, 1945. Where and why, exactly, was the battle for central Burma? The wool costumes look hot in the bright June sun. The fireboat for the inner harbor fires tall jets of high-pressure water into the cloudless sky. Tarnished red and silver trailer boxes lie nearby like so many building blocks for a colossus, stacked and waiting for the containerized ocean freighter that is riding high in the water of the Chesapeake Bay as it heaves to.
"Oh say does tha-hat Star Spangled . . ."
The crowd in the park listening to the contralto belt it out is an extremely diverse lot. Orientals. Blacks. Surprising number of redheads. Uncommon quantities of adults under five and a half feet tall, with pinched smiles and gnarled hands. Virtually the entire history of the migrations that have made up North America is written on their faces. The neighborhood just behind Fort McHenry is Locust Point. Surrounding the Locust Point Marine Terminal, it is the classic northeastern ethnic enclave. The front stoops of the row houses are polished white, gleaming from repeated scrubbings on hands and knees with soapy water and a stiff brush. "These Germans and Polacks here in Locust Point," the mayor of Baltimore had said earlier, "they think they're independent of the city. They're not poor. They have a lot of pride. You don't do anything down here without asking them. It's a pain in the ass."
"Ba-NER-her ye-het wa-ha-ha-have . . . '
Over the star-shaped old squat brick fort, a replica of an old flag was being raised. In the Indian summer of 1814, in retaliation for North Americans torching Toronto, British imperial forces had burned the White House in Washington, forty miles south of here, and were then zeroing in on the crucial fledgling industry of the port city of Baltimore. The commandant of the fort that stood between the fleet and the city was casting about for a very specific symbol of defiance. "It is my desire," he wrote, archly, "to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance." So he ordered a banner sewn thirty feet hoist by forty-two feet fly, spangled with fifteen five-pointed stars, each two feet across, and fifteen stripes. Its exact duplicate, being raised this day, is one huge flag.
"O'er the la-hand of the FREE . . ."
The p.a. system screeches on the word "free." It always does. There doesn't seem to be a p.a. system made that can deal with that high E flat. The British today are having no difficulty seeing this Star Spangled Banner. Nor are the Hungarians, the French, the Vietnamese, the Italians, the Jamaicans, the Lithuanians, the Ecuadorians . . . The British, as a matter of fact, are out in force this fine Flag Day. In a park on the shores farther into the harbor, they are holding a Celtic-Scandinavian ethnic festival. Other flags are flying there - from the yellow cross on the blue field of Sweden, to the fierce red dragon of Wales. In fact, the harbor was again being invaded, but this time it was by forty-Foot serpent-headed long boats, their Viking crews brandishing padded swords. Swedes, Norwegians, and ethnic Finns attacked; Scots, Welsh, and Irish defended. When the warriors got thirsty, they drank a sweet, cold, potent pear wine imported from England. "And the home . . . of the . . . BRAAAAAVE."
Bravery, as it happens, was the topic of discussion later in the day, as William Donald Schaefer toured his city in the long green Fleetwood with the license plates that simply said MAYOR. In addition to his driver, he traveled with Gary Mitchell, a double-knit aide who looked like an administrative assistant and sometimes functioned as one, but who really was there on special detachment from Baltimore's Tac Squad - the equivalent of a SWAT team. Formerly with the elite police helicopter branch, in which he had thrown spotlights into bleak alleys from the safety of the air, he now traveled with a .38 under his plaid-jacketed shoulder, and the knowledge that the mayor of a northeastern city wades into some fairly strange crowds.
Actually, the conversation was not about bravery per se. It was about windows.
In the Union Square neighborhood, where H. L. Mencken, "the sage of Baltimore," once lived, there is a "shopsteading" program. Shopsteading is a spin-off of Baltimore's "homesteading" plan. In northeastern urban homesteading, gutted aged town-houses, which are in no condition to support decent human life but whose sturdy brick walls are still so structurally sound that it seems a shame just to bulldoze them, are sold by the city for a dollar and some promises. The homesteaders who acquire these charming old shells, which today would cost a fortune to build from scratch, agree to fix the houses up - they frequently have to replace the plumbing and heating systems, the plaster, and sometimes even the roof - and then actually live in them for at least a few years.
The houses are available for a dollar because their previous owners have abandoned them - been scared off - and they've fallen into the hands of the city in a tax sale.
The deal, when it works right, usually boils down to this:
The city marks out a neighborhood that it thinks ripe for resuscitation. It attempts to stretch its overtaxed social services so that the entire neighborhood can be turned around by these home-steaders. It knows from bitter experience that only one or two rehabbed houses in a block won't do the trick. The whole block has to be attacked for critical social change to occur. So the designated neighborhood, at least in Baltimore, gets an extra dose of police protection, and the city code inspectors make a special effort to lean on property owners who are not bringing their places up to the new standards. Street fairs and ethnic festivals are encouraged, with the city providing bandstands and roping off streets to automobile traffic so that pedestrians can wander.
In exchange, a young couple with no chance of being able to afford a more conventional first home in a tight, spiraling real estate market, promise to invest their sweat, and possibly risk their personal safety, rehabilitating a row house in a tough, but presumably not hopeless, part of a city that suburbanites and people who have moved to Oregon have generally written off as irrevocably declining.
There is no question that the neighborhoods involved are tough. The edge of the rehabbed areas, where they fade off into hard-core slums, is commonly referred to as the "frontier." If the neighborhood once again becomes livable, and an adjacent area becomes newly attractive to homesteaders, the process is referred to as "pushing back the frontier." The nastier inhabitants on the wrong side of the frontier are called "the Indians."
Obviously, a certain number of these phrases are blatantly racist code words. But by no means is that the whole story. A good number of the people who get these $ 1.00 houses and fix them up are themselves black. Furthermore, since the people who homestead have committed themselves actually to living in these neighborhoods, they're betting their bodies that a pluralistic, northeastern urban society can be attractive, profitable, possible, and fun.
Now, in the Union Square shopsteading program. for $100 folk get not just a row house, but a two- or three-story building, the top floors of which offer lavish living area as well as the ground floor for some mom-and-pop retail establishment. When the work on the structure is completed, theoretically the couple wind up with both a place to live and a place in which to earn their living.
On West Baltimore Street, holes have been drilled in the middle of the sidewalk, with steel posts firmly cemented into them. From the posts are hung chain-link fencing, mean-looking barbed wire, and a sign saying all this is the work of William Donald Schaefer, mayor, and the city of Baltimore. Behind this makeshift fort, offering night protection from the Indians, dozens of shop-steaders hammer and buzz-saw away, hauling out wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of rotted timber and powdered plaster.
A word about Schaefer: A bachelor in his fifties, Schaefer lives with his mother, Tulula, although "lives with" is somewhat misleading, since his city hall office includes a much-used cot, and he spends inordinate amounts of time, nights and weekends included, personally seeing after his city. Schaefer is a blond, freckled teetotaler of German extraction with almost transparent green-blue eyes. He has a permanent battle with his waistline, made infinitely more difficult by the ethnic festivals his city sponsors at which he finds pressed on him endless crepes, perogies, and lasagna.
Schaefer is an upfront admirer of the late Richard J. Daley and of Frank Rizzo, the former bosses of Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively. As he indefatigably prowls through the city in the back seat of his limousine, he whips out multisheet forms that are labeled "Executive Action Memos." At the top of each sheet is printed the list of the perhaps thirty people at the heights of the city's administration. There is a little box next to each name. Whenever Schaefer sees anything in his city that frosts him, he checks off the name of the department head who will soon wish that he had seen it first, and then scrawls in longhand, as the car tools on, a description of, for example, the grafitti on an overpass that Schaefer wants to see painted over, and yesterday. He then checks off how long the department head has to respond to the memo. The longest period is two weeks, and frequently he checks the box next to "Immediately." When he gets back to city hall, these memos are logged, numbered, and shipped to the offending executive. A copy is retained by an old Prussian, who is a retired utility engineer. His job, for which he is paid next to nothing, is largely to make sure that if an action memo demands a response in two days, by the beard of St. Nicholas, a response is produced in two days. The habits this kind of system instills in city workers can be awesome to behold. At ten o'clock one Saturday morning, a mayor's aide received a call from the organizers of a dedication ceremony at a neighborhood "multiservice" center. More people were showing up at the festivities than had been anticipated, and there were not enough folding chairs. The aide made one call. At 10:56, one yellow truck, number 2737, Department of Public Works, Bureau of Operations, showed up at that center on North Dukeland Street, two miles west of city hall, in the predominantly black Rosemont neighborhood. It had two workers in orange and yellow reflector vests, who worked with a will to unload and set up a hundred more blue folding chairs.
In some northeastern cities on a weekend morning, you can't call 91 1 and get the police to show up in fifty-six minutes flat, much less get a hundred folding chairs and a work crew. And, unlike some of the old-line mayors and Maryland politicians he admires, Schaefer has never been accused of corruption; more-over, he seems to exercise his capacity for repressive totalitarianism only on political allies, opponents, and newspaper reporters - all of whom probably can be considered fair game. Across the pillars of the rehabbed Rosemont neighborhood center marked by clean new plate glass, sandblasted and repointed turn-of-the-century brick, and marvelous old turrets, hung a banner whose message seemed to be heartfelt (in 1979, Schaefer ran without significant opposition). In the city's colors of black and yellow (not very different .from the black and orange of the city's beloved baseball team, the Orioles), it read: WELCOME MAYOR SCHAEFER.
Anyway, this Saturday afternoon - after attending the neighborhood multipurpose center dedication, the Celtic-Scandinavian festival, the Flag Day ceremonies at Fort McHenry, and yet other activities, such as the French ethnic festival, a rummage sale at the 125-year-old Light Street Presbyterian Church, and a south Baltimore street fair in which he responded to a man who wanted to help keep the city clean by issuing an Executive Action Memo directing a city department to deliver the fellow a broom - Schaefer had thoroughly exhausted the men twenty years his junior who had tried to keep up with his pace. Now, the mayor, a nondrinker, found himself on West Baltimore Street in the Union Square neighborhood inside the New Deal Bar.
"My goodness," he said. "I never thought I'd live to see the day that I'd find myself inside the New Deal Bar."
Joann Whitely, a thirty-six-year-old with dark hair and dirt smudges on her face, showed the mayor the work she, her husband, and their renovation crew had done on the bar they'd recently bought. She nearly burst with pride. Here were the murals they were preserving. "During the forties," she explained later, "a man came into the bar and could not pay, and in lieu of funds, he painted the murals. It took him almost a year. Apparently he'd run up an extremely high bill."
The long-forgotten alcoholic genius had painted what he saw around the bar, and what he saw was so raunchy that Whitely carefully steered the mayor away from some of the more colorful paeans to pimps and whores. Baltimore magazine in the late seventies, before Whitely took it over, conferred on the the New Deal Bar the awesome title "The Worst Bar in Baltimore."
"During the war," Whitely said, "the servicemen were barred from going on the premises. It was really that bad. It was the place where narcotics were trafficked. There were some murders in the New Deal. There were rapes. Yes, within the last few years this all happened. In fact, when we first bought it, one day I walked toward the back of the bar and these two guys were firing up right outside the bathroom. Yes, shooting up. Heroin. In fact, the liquor- board would not allow us to use the name New Deal Two. They just wanted the name New Deal completely gone from the memory of everyone in Baltimore. So we're going to call it Heathen Days, after one of Mencken's books."
Whitely proudly showed the mayor the long oak bar she and her husband had discovered and moved in, and the fine brass rails on which the future would place its feet. She discussed the oak ice box with beveled mirrors and ornate brass trim that was coming in next. She mentioned that the couple will have sunk $105,000 into the bar by the time it reopens. She pointed out the "amenities," like the fireplace halfway up the wall, and the carefully carved wooden detail along the roofline. "Where else could you get detail like that?" she asked.
I looked out at West Baltimore Street. I was glad I was traveling not alone, but with the mayor and Mitchell, with his concealed .38. There was a faded arrow labeled "Eddie's Lunch." An old barber shop sign hung half off its hinges, its twirling glass completely smashed. Al's Billiard Supply was boarded up, its sign flaking. Citywide TV Sales & Service sat there with its front covered by grilles of steel. M. Hess Luncheonette was abandoned. Drifters ambled past with no particular place to go.
"Doesn't this neighborhood ever scare you?" I later asked Whitely.
"Aren't you afraid of being raped?"
"No. I can't explain it, but I feel a closeness to this entire neighborhood. Union Square is very special to me, because when I was growing up I saw a neighborhood - West Fayette Street - die, and I think within me there was a psychological need. We saw a neighborhood go from a solid one to a ghetto. A lot of the families moved out after the war. It became a tenant area. It integrated too quickly; then the state and the city started condemning properties for the expansion of the University of Maryland. Buildings began to be boarded up. And once that started there was no return.
"The crime rate increased. Everything started to fall apart. My father died on West Fayette Street, the six hundred block, in nineteen sixty-six. The day my father died, it was unbelievable, because here was this little house that was set back with fig trees and roses in the front yard. And then the state came in and took over, and today the new dental school stands where my home was."
And now Whitely is in the middle of the West Baltimore Street shopsteading area, attacking the worst bar in Baltimore with a crowbar. She paid considerably more than the token $100 to the city for her building, because, as much as the cops might have wished it, the New Deal had not been abandoned. But all around her, up and down the block, carpenters and masons who had made such a deal were at work restoring storefronts that would soon become an ice cream parlor, a unisex hair salon, a quickie printing shop, a self-service laundry, a silk-screen shop, an upholsterer's operation, a delicatessen, an architect's office, a tax consultant's, a constructions firm's.
In the course of conversation, Whitely casually mentioned the burglaries, robberies, muggings, and lootings that occur from time to time on West Baltimore Street. "I'm not afraid to live here," she said. "A lot of people can't understand that, but Baltimore Street is the last frontier to be conquered out here. Until Baltimore Street is turned around in terms of physical appearance and being a viable business corridor, we'll never make it." She really wanted to tell the mayor about the piece de resistance of the new bar, and this is how the subject of windows and bravery came up. "They say windows are dead in Baltimore," she told Schaefer. "They're wrong." And she went on about the ultimate architectural statement she and her husband intended to make with the newly christened Heathen Days.
They were going to tear out the bricked-up front of the building and replace it with glass. Plate glass. Not even rockproof. And without steel bars.
Several weeks later, I found myself in Hamtramck, Michigan, talking about Whitely to David Olko. Olko is the part-owner of the Second Precinct Lounge there, and we'd been talking about Amori's Party Store on East Jefferson in Detroit, several miles south. Amori's is across the street from Renaissance Ford, a dealership that is, in turn, practically in the shadow of the new downtown Renaissance Center, which is supposed to typify the resurgence of downtown Detroit. Amori's has a lot of glass, too, only the glass is an inch and a half thick and bulletproof and inside the liquor store, separating the operators from the customers. Olko agreed that he'd never seen a bank with that kind of security, although he allowed that he'd seen a bar outfitted similarly. His Second Precinct Lounge had been burglarized just the week before, and they'd gotten not only his cash but the guns he keeps handy. The day before that, his cottage up by the lake had been burned. Arson. And a lot of bars were closing around him in Hamtramck, now that the Chrysler Dodge Main plant next door had been shut down permanently, throwing thousands out of work. But Olko wasn't pessimistic about his future, and he said he felt he knew where Whitely was coming from. "Yeah," he said. "You just gotta be tough."
And tough is what defines North America's nation of northeastern gritty cities in a multitude of ways.
Gary. South Bend. Flint. Toledo. Cleveland. Akron. Canton. Youngstown. Wheeling. Sudbury. London. Hamilton. Buffalo. Syracuse. Schenectady. Pittsburgh. Bethlehem. Harrisburg. Wilkes-Barre. Wilmington. Camden. Trenton. Newark.
The litany of names bring clear associations even to the most insulated residents of other regions. These names mean one thing: heavy work with heavy machines. Hard work for those with jobs; hard times for those without.
When columnists speak of managing decline, this is the region they mean. When they speak of the seminal battles of trade unionism, they place their markers here. When they write of the disappearing Democratic city political juggernauts, not for nothing do they call them machines, for this is where they hummed, then rusted.
When television presents the concept "Archie Bunker," it locates his neighborhood here, for the four boroughs of New York that are not Manhattan are part of this nation.
In an ironic way, this place is the real New South, for it received the vast internal migration of job-hungry blacks fleeing the once-overworked land of Dixie, and now it is the warehouse of their discontent. North America's Gulag Archipelago, it's been called; the continent's chain of urban prison camps.
Its capital must be Detroit, the birthplace of the assembly line, but its spiritual center is bankrupt Cleveland. Its hope may be Baltimore, but its shame is Cicero, the northern town whose hatred broke the heart of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is the nation of the Foundry.
A foundry, in which molten metal is cast into forms, historically represents one of the most basic and ancient technologies known to man. "If you want to use your imagination a bit," says Sheldon Wesson, of the American Iron and Steel Institute, "one would guess that the first foundry was born when primitive man saw this reddish crud melting around his campfire, and this hot stuff trickled down into the sand, and when it cooled, it assumed the shape of the area in the sand where it had trickled. It didn't take much of a leap for him to realize that he could produce a form to his own specifications. I've seen foundries today so primitive that you wouldn't believe it. Just wet sand on the floor of the factory. A guy comes along with a hand ladle and pours hot metal pretty much as it was done a million years ago."
Well, not a million years ago, but in the case of copper, at least three millennia before the birth of Christ. Iron is mentioned in the Old Testament eighty-six times, and steel, three.
And historically, the nation of the Foundry served as basic and time-honored a role in the development of North America as the facilities after which it is named. In fact, especially for the hundred years ending during World War II, North American industrial history and the history of the Foundry were close to being the same thing. But even before that, during the 1770s, around the eastern Pennsylvania iron deposits, "iron plantations" were formed, the largest at Hopewell, Pennsylvania, with twelve hundred inhabitants, casting and forging arms, shot, and cannon for the Revolution. The most famous of these plantations, among the many destroyed by British troops trying to weaken George Washington's armies, is Valley Forge.
Early in the 1800s, water power, which had driven the air bellows to create the high temperatures necessary to melt metal, was replaced by steam power. This was an important advance for several reasons, not the least of which was its timeliness, as the demand for boilers, locomotives, rails, and bridges surged with the accelerated western movement of a rapidly growing continent.
But it was also important because it freed the industry geographically from its dependence on locations next to East Coast rivers, flowing rapidly down from the Appalachians, and facilitated its move closer to its supplies of raw materials, most of which were in, or west of, the mountains.
It was in the mid 1800s that a system was invented that would make the production of steel so cheap that the much stronger material could compete with iron - the Bessemer process. In 1864, at Wyandotte, Michigan, on the Detroit River less than ten miles from the Dearborn that Henry Ford would put on the map half a century later, the first North American commercial pour of Bessemer steel was made. From these ingots, North America's first steel railroad track was made in 1865, at the North Chicago Rolling Mill.
Steel from the nation of the Foundry changed the face of the continent. Barbed wire allowed the building of fences in the tree-less Breadbasket, transforming it from rangeland into farmland and promoting the creation of towns. On May 10, 1869, at Promontory Point, Utah, steel rails linked the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific railroads, and thus the coasts. The "Chicago school" of architecture changed the ways cities would look and function by pioneering the steel skyscraper in the 1880s and 1890s.
Meanwhile, steel was changing the geography of the Foundry itself, the interior of which found itself ideally situated in the middle of a triangle of the three resources basic to both iron and steel:
- High-quality iron ore from northern Michigan and, after the completion of the Sault Sainte Marie locks linking Lake Superior and Lake Huron in 1855, the Mesabi Range of Minnesota.
- Bituminous coal, to be baked into the high-heat-value coke of almost pure carbon, found in virtually the entire eastern mountain range, but mainly in the valleys of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
- Limestone, which is the shells of prehistoric crustaceans squeezed into rock, used to remove impurities in the iron and steel. It can be found in deposits miles long and thousands of feet deep all over the Northeast, especially in New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario.
But best of all, the water-rich Foundry was laced with navigable waterways ranging from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River to the Erie Canal, and, to this day, water is still the cheapest way to move heavy, bulky items.
So industrial towns grew next to ports. Pittsburgh, the home of United States Steel and Pittsburgh Plate Glass, and the third greatest headquarters city in the United States, is located where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers merge to create the Ohio River. (It's no accident that the football Steelers play in Three Rivers Stadium.)
Cleveland is located where the Cuyahoga River - famous for once being so polluted that it burst into flames - meets Lake Erie - also famous for once being so polluted that it was incapable of sustaining marine life.
Detroit is on the western edge of Lake Erie, as is Toledo. Buffalo is on its eastern edge.
You can still get from Buffalo to Albany via the 18 25 Erie Canal, and from there to New York City on the Hudson River. It was that barge canal, linking New York City and the Great Lakes, and along which the cities of Utica, Syracuse, and Rochester were built, which was the beginning of the end for Boston and New England as the primary industrial region. It transformed New York City from a second-class seaport to the East Coast's commercial center. It helped make New York the Empire State. Today's Interstate 90 roughly parallels that canal.
Chicago, Gary, and Milwaukee are on Lake Michigan.
Toronto is on Lake Ontario, and as recently as 1959, that was making an enormous political and economic difference in North America. Nineteen fifty-nine was the year that the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed. As noted above, it's not that the Seaway connected the Lakes and the Atlantic for the first time. What the Seaway did was allow all but the largest oceangoing traffic (for example, supertankers) into the Lakes. Prior to 1959, Quebec's Montreal was functionally the end of the line for large craft, and, not coincidentally, Montreal was the financial and commercial hub of Canada. In the last twenty years, that title has passed. over to inland Foundry Toronto, and to this day you can find presumably paranoid Quebecois who view the Seaway as nothing but an elaborate Anglo plot to screw the French-speakers once again.
Be that as it may, the point is that these cities would not have evolved, or at least evolved the way they did, had they not been strategically located to wrest wealth efficiently from the very dirt of the planet. These cities were well positioned to have the various earths shipped inexpensively, via the abundant waterways, to central locations. There, they would be thrown together at high heat to make metal and other extremely basic nineteenth-century industrial products. In this process, they attracted wave after wave of cheap immigrant labor-first the wave of Europeans, then the wave of southern blacks, recently the Hispanics. Not for nothing did they call it the Melting Pot. How many people have "melting pots" in their kitchen? That's a Foundry term and concept.
Diego Rivera, the celebrated Mexican muralist, made this point explicitly in the Garden Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1932.
An idealistic Marxist and champion of the working class who believed in individuals laboring for the good of all, Rivera was fascinated by economic and industrial development. When, in California in 1930, he met Dr. William Valentiner, then the curator of that art institute, "he wanted to hear all that I knew about industry in Detroit," Valentiner wrote. The staggering capitalist achievement of "the Rouge" - the Rouge River industrial complex of Henry Ford - intrigued him. Here, within one two-thousand-acre industrial "city," raw iron-laden earth came in one end, and Model As came out the other, with virtually every other industrial process associated with the automobile (the making of glass, for example) integrated in between. "In all the constructions of man's past," wrote Rivera, "pyramids, Roman roads and aqueducts, cathedrals and palaces, there is nothing to equal these [skyscrapers, superhighways, and machines] . . . the best modern architects of our age are finding their aesthetic and functional inspiration in [North American] industrial buildings, machine-design, and engineering, the greatest expressions of the . . . genius of this New World."
Charging $ 100 per square yard, which ended up costing Detroit art patron Edsel Ford $20,889 - a handsome sum during; the Depression - Rivera painted twenty-seven panels on the four walls of the museum's skylit, bungalow-sized Garden Court, in the ancient Roman water-color-on-fresh-plaster fresco technique. In striking, bold colors, lines, hrown out of it, they literally go crazy.
M. Harvey Brenner made a detailed study of the effects of unemployment under the auspices of Congress's Joint Economic Committee. His professionally well-regarded calculations are that, historically, for each 1 percent increase in joblessness in the United States economy, the direct result has been 38,886 deaths, 20,240 cardiovascular failures, 494 cases of death from cirrhosis of the liver attendant to alcoholism, 920 suicides, and 648 homicides.
In May 1980, the state of Michigan was suffering from automobile-industry layoffs that yielded an unemployment rate of 14.4 percent, the highest rate reported since the records started being kept. Six hundred and twenty-five thousand people were out of work. (And the unemployment numbers went even higher in succeeding months.) But on the basis of those May figures, which accounted for o.5 percent of the 7.5 percent U.S. unemployment rate, Michigan used Brenner's study to arrive at the conclusion that shortly the state was going to see 460 more suicides, 324 more murders, and so on.
And sure enough, as Oscar Paskal said to me in Solidarity House, the Detroit headquarters of the United Auto Workers, "Watch television tonight. See what's on the news." What was on the news was a horrifying report about snipers who were driving around and, apparently, taking random pot shots at children. "It won't be long before you get the standard man-goes-berserk, barricades-self-inside-house, opens-fire-with-deer-rifle," Paskal said. "In fact, it's already started."
Right again. The day before, on the front page of the Detroit News, an article appeared headlined SLUMP BREEDS MENTAL ILLS.
"Some stare silently for hours at walls," it read. "Others overeat or drink heavily. Some feel tired constantly, even though they may sleep hours. All of these are common symptoms of the depression among Michigan's growing number of unemployed . . .
"In recent weeks, several newly unemployed persons have barricaded themselves with shotguns inside their homes. One east side Detroiter, who lost his job and his wife within the last two years, shot at two of his neighbors and then killed himself . . .
" 'These are not mild cases of the blues,' " said Mel Ravitz, director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Board in a colossal understatement. " 'Unemployment for a prolonged period of time attacks the very core of a person's identity and self-perception. Their frustration and feelings of worthless-ness in turn threaten the entire fabric of the family. These people can't deal with all the problems and complications . . .' "
The very core of a person's identity and self-perception.
Ask these people who they are, and before they say man, woman, Methodist, Catholic, American, Canadian, Democrat, Republican, black, white, or brown, they'll say, for example: steel-worker.
It's this which brings the dry abstractions of the steel industry's bleats about foreign competition down to human scale. At the end of World War II, North America produced the majority of the world's steel. The United States' share alone was 48 percent in the 1948-1952 period, and its share of exports was 25 percent. By the mid-seventies, the U.S. share of world production was down to a mere 18 percent, and its exports down to less than 5 percent.
What was happening during that period was that every part of the world was recognizing steel production as basic to its development. Today, one of the first things an emerging nation does is go looking for an international loan to build a steel mill. It's an even more basic drive than that toward energy independence. And appropriate, too. The world's second largest iron-ore reserves, for example, after the Soviet Union, are in Brazil.
Furthermore, war-ravaged industrialized countries, notably Japan, were creating a vast internal market for new steel needed to rebuild themselves. And they met that demand with the latest, most efficient technology. There are obvious advantages to being forced to start again from scratch.
In 1948-1952, Japan produced less than 3 percent of the world's steel. By 1975, that had grown to 16 percent. But more important, Japan increased its share of exports from less than 5 percent in 1950 to become the world's leading exporter, shipping over 35 percent by the mid-seventies.
Meanwhile, by the mid-seventies, the United States had begun to import as much as 12 percent of its steel - more than Europe, more than the Communist bloc. In many ways, what had happened to New England's textile industry decades earlier has been happening to the Foundry's steel. It was being transferred to other parts of the world, where the costs were lower. Steel-making is no longer an awesome technology. It doesn't begin to compare in complexity with the manufacture and assembly of semi-conductor computer devices. And that manufacture, in turn. will someday be eclipsed by the now-fledgling genetic-engineering industry, with its industrial creation of new forms of life - little microbes, for instance, that are custom-designed to eat copper ore and spit out refined copper.
It's going to be a while before the technology of 256K semiconductor memory chips and genetically altered microbes are commonplace in Bulgaria, but the manufacturing of steel is no mystery there now. The point is that some of the Foundry's steel industry's overseas markets were drying up - being better served by home-grown industry. And those newly industrializing nations had an advantage over the older steel centers, in that they frequently started from scratch, so they could invest in the most efficient new methods then developed. The Foundry, meanwhile, had an enormous investment in, for example, antiquated open-hearth furnaces that perhaps should have been rapidly scraped but weren't.
Moreover, a Foundry location was becoming less important for steel. Steel today is made in thirty-five U.S. states. Some of the largest post-World War lI steel facilities built in the United States, such as the Fairless Works of U.S. Steel, built in 1953, were not built inside the Great Lakes resources triangle. Fairless is in the Foundry, but it is north of Philadelphia, with a straight shot at the Atlantic. At Fairless, you can see why: great mounds of various portions of the planet lie about, in their characteristic colors. Venezuelan iron-laden dirt is more reddish-brown than iron-laden Quebec dirt, which is more a glinting metallic gray. As the global reach of the steel industry has grown, it has responded by rethinking its locations.
The only new steel mill to open in North America in more than a decade, the $1.2 billion job at Nanticoke, Ontario, eighty miles west of Toronto, is owned by the Steel Company of Canada. Ironically, even its Lake Erie location, directly across from aging steel towns like Youngstown, Ohio, reflects the new realities. Apart from the traditional reasons for locating in the heart of the Foundry, Stelco had new, more sophisticated imperatives. A spokesman for the company admitted it didn't see a location in the dirt-poor, thinly populated Atlantic Maritimes market as much of a bet. Neither was it eager to further its investment in nationalistic, French-speaking Quebec. But at the same time, its growth market, according to company executives, is seen as the Empty Quarter environs of Alberta, which will need everything from high-rise steel buildings to Stelco's wide-gauge steel pipe-lines. If one assumes that a competitive steel mill must be built with access to cheap water transportation, then it comes down to the Great Lakes or the Pacific coast. Cheaper to ship west, across the flatlands of the Breadbasket, than try to lift this stuff east over the mountains from British Columbia, Stelco feels.
The North American steel industry today says it has been dealt dirty by the governments of the United States, Canada, and Japan. The United States and Canada, the industry says, have slowed revitalization by forcing the corporations to invest billions of dollars in environmental equipment to clean the water and air of the Foundry - billions that, they say, should have been spent on increasing productivity. The Japanese industry, by contrast, they say, is in bed with its government, which is true. But the more serious charge is that Japanese and other exporters are dumping - shipping steel across the Pacific for less than they can afford to make it in order to keep their furnaces blasting at full capacity and to retain advantages of scale and penetration of market.
There are enormous arguments over this. Critics of North American steel companies say that they have simply made tremendous blunders in not modernizing more quickly. These complacent old leviathans, the critics charge, were more interested in maintaining profit margins than in plowing back the billions of dollars that would have been necessary to maintain technological parity with Japan.
But some part of this argument is moot. One steel mill after another has been shut down. Plans to build new ones have been indefinitely delayed, because the offending company concluded that steel is simply no longer a growth industry in North America.
When, in 1979, U.S. Steel shut down facilities it called "marginal," throwing one Foundry town after another into turmoil and depression, the corporation averred that it was simply doing what it had to do in order to avoid the near-bankruptcy that plagues Chrysler. If Chrysler had backed out of the product: it had been traditionally associated with - big cars - as quickly as U.S. Steel was backing out of steel, it wouldn't have been so troubled, the corporation argued.
And there is a certain merciless logic to that, from the market perspective. A corporation naturally wants to make money, not necessarily steel. If there's more money in making chemicals . . .
And it's true. North America is a maturing continent. The Foundry itself is a mature region. That limits how much steel the continent needs. It's not like the turn of the century. A lot of sky-scrapers are already built, for instance. Furthermore, the biggest market North American steel has - the automobile industry - is backing out of steel as quickly as it can in order to lower the weight of its cars. Aluminum, graphite, and plastics are performing all manner of structural and decorative functions that used to be performed by steel. The cars are getting better gas mileage as a result. Meanwhile, the automobile industry itself is, as of this writing, in a terrible slump, as high interest rates, toughened credit availability, soaring costs, and unpredictable fuel supplies not only end North America's proverbial "love affair" with the car, but threaten even to end the marriage. And all this continues to drive down the demand for steel.
It would perhaps warm the hearts of free-market Adam Smiths. But the problem is the enormous social cost the shift entails. Youngstown is the classic example of what has been invested in a steel town.
On the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, about seventy miles south of Lake Erie and halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Youngstown is a grimy and cheerless burg where well-meaning would-be gourmets point a visitor in the direction of the Italian dishes at the Holiday Inn. It has a city population of 140,000 and dropping, and a metropolitan area population of about hall 'a million.
If it were located elsewhere, those numbers would put Youngstown in most other nations' lists of their ten largest cities. But in the Foundry, it's only number five in Ohio.
The point of Youngstown, traditionally, has been the making of iron and steel, much of which has been consumed by nearby associated industries, such as the modern, automated GM plant at Lordstown, a few miles west. (Lordstown once achieved a degree of notoriety as a result of studies that demonstrated extreme levels of boredom and alienation among its young workers. Lordstown also served as the model for Fernwood in TV's "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." But I digress.)
Starting in 1977, three major steel mills in a row folded in Youngstown, starting with the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, followed by U.S. Steel's Ohio Works, and its McDonald Works.
They were just a few of the hundreds of major plants that have closed in the Foundry in the past decade as industries moved south or west, or were unable to meet foreign competition, or phased out obsolete facilities.
Shortly before Youngstown's Black Monday, September 17, 1977, when the first mill closed, throwing four thousand out of work, Bethlehem Steel laid off thirty-five hundred workers in Lackawanna, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, and another thirty-five hundred in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Bethlehem also halted work on a new steel mill in Johnstown. Three thousand workers were out of a job in Conshohocken, New York, when another steel company declared bankruptcy. In Akron, Ohio, twenty-one thou-sand jobs in the rubber industry have disappeared since 1950, twenty-five hundred of them in 1978 alone. New York state lost three hundred and twenty-seven thousand jobs in the first seven years of the seventies. Michigan figured that plant relocations alone cost thirty thousand jobs in that state between 1970 and 1974, and Ohio figures that plant closings alone cost it fifty thousand jobs between 1970 and 1977.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, gathering numbers that cover what is basically the United States portions of the Foundry and New England, says 1.4 million industrial jobs have been lost there in the thirteen years from 1966 to 1979, and clearly, the bulk of that impact has to have been in the Foundry.
Youngstown's triple closings - the elimination of nearly ten thousand high-skill, high-pay, high-status jobs, the holders of which have known no other life - alone produced a ripple effect that has ended up costing the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
The closings, in effect, were a manmade disaster equivalent to a killer hurricane or a tornado. The "ripples," in fact, were monstrous waves, touching every resident, from the department store clerk to the gas station attendant.
Youngstown was special. Unlike the citizens of other communities that quietly accepted their fate, Youngstown's civic, religious, and union leaders banded together to investigate the revival of the mills as worker-owned enterprises. David Smith and Patrick McGuigan of the Technological Development Corporation in Boston gathered these studies together in a tract called "Towards a Public Balance Sheet: Calculating the costs and benefits of community stabilization."
In the first three years after the closing of the Campbell Works [says the introduction], it was estimated that the tax-supported public sector would bear costs of $60-70 million in adjustment assistance, unemployment compensation. revenue reduction and increased government expenditures. These costs are imposed by the Lykes Corporations decision to close its facility, but they do not show up on Lykes' balance sheet. Reducing these public costs to $50 million or even to zero would bring no additional return to Lykes, or reduce its loss. However, it would represent a significant gain for the taxpayers' balance sheet. Put another way, had this $60-70 million in public funds been invested prior to the Campbell Works' closing in a successful effort to keep the mill open, taxpayers might well have ended up with a positive rather than negative return.
Actually, it can be argued that the figures in "Balance Sheet" are conservative. For one thing, they were gathered after the first mill went under, before the second and third followed suit. Then, too, there are the medical costs associated with Brenner's estimates of an attendant rise in heart attacks, suicides, and the like. What do a thousand heart attacks cost?
And apart from these human costs, there is the investment in urban facilities that Youngstown represents. No one has ever calculated exactly what a city that size embodies in terms of capital investment. But Youngstown has dozens of schools, endless miles of sewers, roads and street lamps, municipal buildings, art museums and sports fields - not to mention hundreds of thousands of housing units. What did they cost?
Conventional analysis says that in a free market, firms act to maximize profits; mobile capital seeks the highest rate of return; steel mills, like Youngstown's, that are less efficient go out of business; and there is a competition among regions for investment capital such that a plant reduction or closing reflects an area's basic inability to cut it.
The theory goes, then, that the Foundry has priced itself out of the market, with high-priced unionized labor, high land costs, high energy costs, high pollution-control costs, and so forth. The liberal National Center for Economic Alternatives in effect asks certain questions, however: Are we really going to do this? Are we really going to walk away from these Foundry cities? Are we really going to try to build them all over again in MexAmerica and Dixie? Do you have any idea of what that's going to cost? The center and its ideological soulmates have carried out yet more extensive studies that show that Youngstown, for example, should be an excellent place for heavy investment in certain kinds of steel facilities. In order to gain support for the granting of government seed money for the revitalization of Youngstown's steel industry, they've trotted out analyses purporting to show that Youngstown's location is an advantage, not a disadvantage. One of the more technologically sophisticated ways of making steel - the electric-furnace method - requires enormous quantities of scrap as a basic item. Where would be a better place to put an electric-furnace mill, this argument goes, than on a rail line in the middle of more junkyards than any in the dreams of a mean dog: Youngstown? This analysis states that relatively cheap power can be generated from the region's coal, and that a savings of perhaps $40 a ton could ensue.
Yet the reports have done little save give rise to a few headlines and then gather dust. One analyst cynically suggested that Youngstown will have to wait until the Japanese read these figures and locate a North American plant there.
Meanwhile, the Foundry continues to decline.
In Hamtramck, Michigan, an incorporated city completely surrounded by Detroit, United Auto Workers Local 3 is preparing to shut down.
In 1910, Hamtramck was a sleepy, German-American village of less than four thousand. But Chrysler changed all that. Dodge began car production in Hamtramck in 1914, and thousands of workers moved into the sparsely settled town. Many were young men without families, living in overcrowded rooming houses and dingy hotels, where each bed did twenty-four hour service. By 1920, Hamtramck's population had bulged to forty-five thousand, making it the state's fastest-growing boom town. It became the Polish "capital" of Michigan, absorbing wave after wave of eastern Europeans and Ukrainians hungry for work. By 1930, 58 percent of Hamtramck's population was Polish-speaking.
Ethnic pride found expression in organizations like the Polish Workers Local 187, one of the earliest UAW bodies in the city. To this day, on Chene Street a little south of Hamtramck, there's a wonderful Polish restaurant called The Round Bar, formerly Zosia's. It has a massive bar on the first floor that can seat a hundred people, although it happens to be rectangular rather than round. Shots of 100-proof Wyborowa vodka line up next to water tumblers full of Stroh's draft beer. Above the rows of liquor bottles are bowling trophies. The ceiling over the bar - gilt-painted Stamped tin - is two stories up, and the bar is ringed overhead by a second-level balcony displaying proud white-on-red Polish eagles and tinsel rope left over from Christmas. The restaurant on this second-level balcony has plain wooden chairs and white tablecloths covered by clear plastic. Near the cash register, elaborately crocheted and taffetaed dolls are on display. On the back wall, a poster advertises the St. Hyancinth parish picnic, in Warsaw Park, featuring polka dancing. A Wayne County Community College poster announces UCZMY SIE! That's pronounced Uchimi che, it was explained to me, and means We're learning! The menu offers pierogiz miesem - perogis, tasty fried meat dumplings - for $2.60. Pieczen wieprzowa, a roast pork dinner, costs $3.30, and is the most expensive thing on the menu. Nalesniki z powidlami turn out to be prune blintzes. Maslanka is buttermilk.
But The Round Bar is nearly empty. For on January 4, 1980, without much warning, after Seventy years Chrysler Shut down its Dodge Main plant in Hamtramck, with annual payroll and benefits of $120 million, throwing 2925 people out of work. A factory of five million Square feet, on eight floors, over 120 acres, which used to produce as many as 511,000 Plymouth Volare and Dodge Aspen automobiles a year, now stands derelict.
At the once-bustling union hall, there is now only a trickle of people walking in, keeping their unemployment and retraining benefits current. They are a Subdued lot.
James S. Bryant, a heavyset black man in his early sixties, tells about coming to Detroit in 1946, right after the war.
I was born and raised in Alabama. In Birmingham. Tarrant City, really, just outside of Birmingham. When I got out of the service, all my folks had come up here. It was a question of better working conditions Back in Birmingham, I had a job in the steel mills. I quit. I didn't go back to it. I had a better opportunity here. I had a chance to advance myself. I couldn't advance in Birmingham, see? I could not, in them times, you know, because I was black. I was fixing the track for the switching engines. Maybe five or six years I could have gotten a better job down there, but I wasn't going to stay there, no way. Yeah, there were millions of us with the same idea, I'm sure. I figured I'd start out at anything up here and work my way up, which I did. I started off in the foundry. Really hot job. Shaking dust off the castings. Did that about three years. It was a bad job. I would say so, yeah, that was the kind of jobs black people would get. There weren't any white guys doing that job. Ninety-eight cents an hour, though, and that was good money back then. When the Dodge Main plant finally closed, I was a paint repairer. If a car came through the line and there was a scratch or something, I had to repair it before it went to final inspection. Paint repair, now, that's a good job. That's skilled. Almost top [pay] scale. In my department that's almost the top job. Ain't no discrimination now. I got that because I had thirty-three years' seniority. You get the job you want, you just got no problems. Repairing paint is a good job because you don't work on every car, the way I see it. Sometimes you only get every third car. You don't have to bust your butt. Good job. Good pay. About eight dollars and something an hour.
I've been out of work now six months. Longest I'd been out before was on strike, a hundred and five days. I been piddling around a lot. Painting, working around the house. Doing little odd jobs. The first month, it seemed like [model year plant] changeover. But after that, it gets on your nerves a bit. You just don't get used to it that quick. You work around hundreds and hundreds of friends, you don't get used to leaving them that quick. You can't just walk away from a group of friends of thirty years and you don't see them no more and you be happy about it. The mill is just like your home.
The United Auto Workers' contract has a "thirty and out" clause, which allows men to retire after thirty years of service. Men who start work at eighteen, then, are eligible for a pension at forty-eight. Bryant hadn't planned on retiring yet, but with Dodge Main shut down, he sees no choice for himself except to spend the rest of his days at home. "My wife," he adds with a grin, "what with me being retired, sometimes she says, 'I'll be glad when you go.' "
Dominick Roy, in his early fifties, a pudgy white man, doesn't have Bryant's option of retiring. He'd worked at Dodge Main only since 1953.
"I was a miscellaneous sprayer when I was laid off. Putting the black-out in the front and the back, and under the hood. The job wasn't too bad, but the paint can get to you. I was in the wheel room for twelve years until they shifted me into trim. I was lifting the wheels - not the tires, just the wheels - onto a conveyor belt.
"My hometown is Hazard, Kentucky," he said in an almost TV-parody hill twang that he still hasn't managed to shake. Hazard is a notoriously tough coal town, only one county away from "Bloody Harlan," the Kentucky coal center renowned for its pitched battles between workers and mine owners. "My father was a coal miner. He's been retired for twenty years. I didn't even think about staying in Hazard and becoming a coal miner. Just figured back then that there were a lot of jobs up here, and I came and just got established here."
Roy believed he had enough seniority to get a job at Chrysler's Jefferson Street assembly plant, which in a few months was to start building the small, fuel-efficient, front-wheel-drive "K" cars that Chrysler was betting its future on. "Don't know if I'll get the same job over there. Ain't never been inside Jefferson," he said, betraying a touch of anxiety. "Don't know if it works the same way. You ever been in there?"
Nagi Kaid also was worried. Kaid is from North Yemen, an Arab, like so many auto workers in Detroit. Detroit has the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in the continent.
I came over in 'seventy-three [he said], and I've been working at Dodge Main since a month after I got here. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't think there are any jobs here in Detroit. You can look for a job all day and you can't get one. Not even small things. I have a wife and children back in Yemen. I support them. I've been back there twice in the seven years. If the situation stays bad like it is now, maybe I go back to Yemen. I thought about bringing my family here, but if there is no job, how are you going to deal with your family here? If I go back to Yemen, I can be a farmer, I guess. But I left Yemen because my brothers were here. Five of them. They wrote, saying it was good. When I came, you could find a job if you looked. But now, maybe I go to the West Coast. I maybe go to California.
Kaid's situation is similar to that of many recent Arab immigrants in Detroit. "They worked hard," said one union official. "Never turned down a minute of overtime. Maybe sent seventy-five percent of their salary back home." Now, unfortunately, there are many who do not speak English well and feel very reluctant to leave the security of Detroit's Arab community, striking out anew in a strange continent. Kaid himself said that the only place in North America he'd been to other than Detroit was New York, and then only for a week.
When I asked him whether he'd thought of looking for work in Houston or some other town much better off economically than depressed Detroit, he answered the question vaguely, with an unmistakable lack of clarity about where Houston was. It was outside his world, at any rate.
Douglas Gulock, twenty-five, however, had discovered Huntsville; he had already spent some time there. He was born and had grown up in Detroit, but he and. his wife were gearing up to move to Alabama.
We build all the electrical parts for the Chrysler Corporation down there. Electrical ignition, the [computer-controlled] lean-burn engines, starting right from scratch. When I go down there, they're going to send me to school for soldering. I figured in the Detroit area. I wasn't going anywhere. I figure, you know, they're all going to move south. And to be in a newer plant there'd be more chance of the plant sticking around. I don't know a soul in Alabama. But after the first week, I really started liking it, and that was the turning point. The people are friendly. The work is a lot more interesting. There's more to it. More of a challenge. If you go to school you can really make a career down there. Move yourself up. They got a few trouble-shooter jobs there. and you gotta have two years of electronics. As soon as I get settled down there. I want to get into school, and, because it's job related, Chrysler will pay for part of it. I'll go to college at night . . . Couple more years and I'll at least be eligible for some kind of pension. I can just go down there and wait for the right job to open up. I don't think I'm going to miss Detroit. The only hard part is like my parents and my in-laws maybe. My whole family is up here. But when it comes down to missing Detroit . . .
Gulock said that the Chrysler Corporation had offered much of the Dodge Main work force the opportunity to move out of state to other Chrysler plants, but that many of his buddies hadn't even signed up for transfer. They were looking for other jobs in the Detroit area, "in steel mills, in meat-packing plants, whatever," and some had taken big pay cuts - "five, six dollars an hour."
"Everybody gets set in their old ways," Gulock said. "Even the young guys, although for some, it may have been their wives saying no. They got family here, and they don't want to uproot their kids. But I think I've been thinking about the future more than they have. I have to make a living for myself. I figure that if Chrysler makes it, they're going to shut down a lot of the old plants up here and move south."
Gulock said that of the twelve people in his group whom Chrysler flew down to Alabama to show the opportunity there, only five finally ended up taking Dixie jobs. "The guys who didn't take it were more or less black. I guess they were content here, all their friends and everything." But he allowed as how he thought that most of them just saw no way they were going to move to a small town in Alabama. with all the historical and emotional baggage that entails. Actually, there's some irony in that. A lot of the young southern blacks I talked to when I was preparing the Dixie chapter saw no way that they ever wanted to go north. They saw the North as a worse place for blacks than the South.
Yeah. the blacks who were educated down there now have a different way of thinking than the guys who were educated up here [said Ernest Carmack, a muscular black man who had taken retirement from Dodge Main]. I came to Detroit from Alabama when I was ten years old, so I know both sides. The guys in the South get a better education than the ones up here, I think. It's the New South. A lot f people still don't believe that. The guy who's really in trouble is the guy between the ages of thirty-five and forty. Maybe he's been buying a home for ten years. Not enough seniority to stay in a plant up here. But he's assumed responsibility. Has a family. two or three kids, maybe. It would be a b***buster for him to start all over again in electronics. The longer he's been out of school. the harder it is for him to pick it up. This is what I'm thinking.
Carmack said he'd been planning his retirement for twelve years, ever since his kids grew up, and that he'd wound up buying; two four-flat apartment buildings. He figures he'll spend his time maintaining them. "And I have personal things that I do every day. It's not illegal," he explained, in refusing to divulge what that is, "but it's personal, and it keeps me occupied.'"'
Said Joseph P. Elliott, the financial secretary of the soon-to-be defunct loca