Fred Fisher

Title

Fred Fisher

Description

Fred Fisher was a teenager at the Detroit Tigers game when the unrest began in July of 1967. He remembers the situation in the city in the days that follow and some of the long term effects of that week.

Publisher

Detroit Historical Society

Date

06/23/2016

Rights

Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI

Format

Text

Language

en-US

Type

Written Story

Text

My Memories of the 1967 Detroit Riot
I had just turned 16 on the 12th of July 1967. Our family lived in N.W. Detroit on Lesure Ave. near Florence Ave. (McNichols – Schaefer area).

On that Sunday that the Riots started early in the morning, a friend and I travelled by bus (Schaefer to Michigan, Michigan to Trumble) to Tiger Stadium to see the Tigers play the Yankees in a double header. The Yankees were a shell of th glory years of a just a few seasons earlier but it was good to see Mickey Mantle play.

While at the game, nothing was mentioned about a civil disturbance. While at the game, we coincidentally met a couple of friends who went to the game as well. One had their fathers’ car, so we rode home with them. While driving up the Lodge Freeway, we saw a lot of smoke to the west of the freeway. We almost went to investigate it but it was near dinnertime, so we decided to just go home instead. I was shocked to learn from another friend that there was a riot going on near downtown.

I remember my parents being on edge as no one knew where the trouble would spread. There was no trouble near us at the time. And as it would turn out, it wouldn’t.

I worked at a corner grocery and meat market. He was told not to sell alcohol to anyone. We had a good customer who ordered two cases of beer every couple of weeks. I was sent on the delivery truck bike with brown butcher paper covering the beer to deliver his half of them cold; E & B and Blatz beer a couple of blocks away on Grove and Lesure St. and did so without incident

The owner of Judges’ Market on Puritan and Stansbury St. where I worked covered his meat with butcher paper to protect it from flying glass as if that would be much of a concern versus what damage could really occur. He closed for a couple of days.
I remember gas was not to be dispensed in cans as well for fear of Molotov cocktails.

I do remember when the federal troops were called in and feeling some comfort when seeing a jeep-load of paratroopers drive down Florence St. with their rifles and a M60 machine gun on the back.
We were playing touch football in the street when an Army helicopter came swooping down out of nowhere and hovered above us for what seemed an eternity but probably 15 seconds and then took off as quickly as it arrived. We figured later that a football play from the air may have looked like a fight and that is what they were reacting to.

There was a black family that had moved in on Stansbury St.. I remember he was a nice man and was a customer at the market I worked at. He said to his neighbors that he had received a phone call that said to mark your house as the rest on the block would be firebombed. The neighborhood erected a barricade at the street entrances and waited with their rifles and shotguns to defend. Many were WW II and Korean War veterans. Thank God it never occurred or was attempted.

Friends of my older brother, pressmen who worked at the Detroit News and Detroit Chronicle told of being shot at while going to work traveling down the Lodge. They stopped going to work.

Other than the literally years of looted items being sold out of trunks, the destruction of neighborhoods via White Flight (White Fright, I call it), the popularity of “Cavanaugh Windows” as they were called – large panes of glass in businesses being covered down to small windows (for Mayor Cavanaugh’s slowness in calling for federal help) and the destruction of the neighborhood of the Riot. That is about it for memories of the Riot itself.

Remember the Algiers Hotel Incident and that at least 43 people were killed during the 1967 Riot.

I graduated high school in 1969 at Benedictine and our senior prank was to gather as many for-sale signs that we could and put them up on the lawn of the school located on the corner of Outer Drive and Southfield. There were hundreds.

As a result of the White Flight (prodded and prospered by blockbusting techniques of vagabond realtors out for quick money), many houses were for sale starting about 6-8 months after the Riot. By 1971 or ’72, the neighborhood was once again segregated except for a few houses of white occupied homes. We stayed until spring of 1977. I worked my way through Wayne State (’74) at a Standard service station on McNichols and Strathmoor St. I saw and experienced first hand the changes of the neighborhood.

Ironically, Detroit was considered a Model City at the time by the federal government at the time of the 1967 Riots.

Thanks for the opportunity to write.

Original Format

Email

Submitter's Name

Fred Fisher

Submission Date

06/23/2016

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Citation

“Fred Fisher,” Detroit 1967 Online Archive, accessed January 17, 2019, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/281.

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