“I love Michigan. I live in Texas but Michigan is and always will be HOME.”
My Aunt Debbie grew up in Flint, Michigan and lived there until 1971. Then, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan where she went to college. She now lives in San Antonio.
I asked Debbie to reflect on her time spent in Flint, what it was like growing up there and places she remembers as being special.
In the 1960s
In the ’60s, Flint was known as Vehicle City and was home to General Motors, a car company that hired most of Debbie’s friends’ fathers. The company offered incredible benefits and great pay to hundreds of thousands. At its peak in the 1970s, GM employed 80,000 of Flint’s 190,000 residents.
I asked my Aunt Debbie several questions about where she went out to eat, where she shopped, and if she frequented any bars in Flint. She explained that in the ’60s her family went out so seldom, it wasn’t like it is today — people didn’t eat at restaurants once a week. Debbie remembers occasionally go to Dunkin’ Donuts or A&W. Now, her top recommendation is a little pizza place called Sorrentos. Currently, top rated restaurants according to Flint residents are Redwood Steakhouse and Brewery and Krystal Jo’s Diner, locals swear it’s the best breakfast in town.
The top place to shop for clothes in Flint was Federal Department Store, a chain founded in Detroit in 1929. They filed for bankruptcy in 1972. Today, Genesee Valley Center is the largest mall in town and offers a wide variety of shops. Another fun place to shop is the Flint Farmers’ Market, open year around, offering fresh, locally grown goods as well as homemade arts and crafts.
As a high school student, Debbie didn’t frequent many bars in Flint. However, she enjoyed visiting Knollwood in Kalamazoo during her college days. Knollwood was a small bar that sold burgers and boiled eggs. Now, Daizy Dukes Sports Bar and Grill is a spot in Flint that locals frequent. They rave about the incredible food and excellent service. Plus, who doesn’t love a spot with pool tables, volleyball courts, dart boards, and a juke box?
Since the 1960s, Flint’s population has dropped by nearly 50 percent. There are still building signs that pay homage to the once booming Vehicle City, but Flint is no longer what it used to be.
Regardless, Debbie visits home occasionally and has a trip planned this summer to visit the Upper Peninsula. There isn’t a “best season to visit Michigan” because all seasons are great, especially the fall when the colors change. You can expect a lot of snow in the winter.
Debbie recommends taking a trip to nearby Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island. There are no cars on the island, but you can rent a bike and get around the 6 mile island in an hour.
Debbie looks back on her time in Flint fondly. She enjoyed growing up in the area and is sad that the reputation has changed so drastically. She hopes that the town can return to its former glory, and once again be the place that so many loved to call home.
Read more of the blogs in my Growing Up In series by clicking one of the following links: Growing Up In Chicago, IL, Growing up in Chelmsford, MA, Growing Up In Boulder, CO, Growing up in Westminster, CO, and Growing Up In Auberry, CA.
Thanks for reading,