Tuesday, December 16, 2008
mayor of flint
One of the happiest recollections of my hometown of Flint, Michigan was holiday shopping with my father. In those days, and we are talking pre-energy crisis late sixties and early seventies, my little hometown was a prosperous place where the factories hummed along producing luxurious Buick Electras and shiny Chevy pickups, and a thriving downtown with prosperous merchants supplied the locals with their shopping needs.
The holiday season kicked off with the Glitterball. It was the glam party of the season, hosted by the University Club atop the Penthouse of the Genessee Towers. From the giant picture windows, one would look down nineteen stories onto the prosperous community below. Mom would spend a good month making sure her holiday ensemble was "just so", even having her mink stole glazed beforehand (in those innocent, pre-PETA days).
Dad was a partner in a prominent CPA firm downtown and almost all of the local merchants were clients of his, so going shopping was downtown like visiting one endless holiday party with old friends. I nicknamed him the "Mayor of Flint", long before that would infer the felony convictions and sordid background that recent mayors have had.
We had a fabulous time. We'd start at James, Inc, the downtown men's store where Jim Mc Logan would offer me hot cider. Dad would have a glass of champagne at Betty Richards while choosing a smart suit dress or sweater ensemble for Mother. From there we'd work Saginaw Street- drop in on the Goldsteins at Roberts David Alan for cookies, see the Hoyts at Harry's camera and even check out Greenblatt's Furs. Lunch at the Masonic Temple was part of the ritual. We were treated like royalty every where we went. Every store had lights and holiday treats and friendly people to meet.
Of course it all started to change with the opening of Genessee Valley, the first major suburban shopping mall in 1970. Downtown retailers tried to hold on, many opened suburban satellite locations that in time replaced the originals, and by the eighties it was a pale imitation of itself.
But in the innocent days of my childhood, nothing could hold a candle to Christmas Shopping downtown with my own "Mayor of Flint".