Beverly Mayhew


Beverly Mayhew


Beverly Mayhew remembers the unease of the city of Detroit the summer of 1967. Her husband, who flew helicopters, took reporters out over the city and was a member of the National Guard.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


Responding to the wonderful article in the Free Press June 23, 2016, this is some of my experiences during the Detroit Race Riot as we called it.

I lived in northwest Detroit in 1967, I was born and raised in that area, attending Cerveny grade school and attended and graduated from Cooley High along with my husband Larry. We married and had three children residing in and around the same area.

My husband was employed with Bob James a helicopter business based out of Detroit Metro Airport. They were hired to fly the news reporters over the burning area which included 12th street during the riots,. Some were shooting at the helicopter from roof tops and the reporter became frantic and demanded to be taken back to the airport. My husband shortly afterwards was activated with the Army National Guard. It was the first summer that Ohio, Indiana and Michigan National Guard units trained at Grayling together, and the last, as the governor discovered it took too long to alert the units from such a distance back to Detroit in order to help stop the burning and looting. Had the Detroit units been nearby the damage would never have been as severe. Since that time the different states trained at separate times.

Larry was stationed at City Airport and I had to wait in a security line in order to bring him a change of clothing during the few weeks he was activated. He would fly over our area and kept check on the progression of the fires as they were at one time near Livernois. We had a 6 o'clock curfew and army jeeps patroled our streets, 6 Mile and Schaefer. My neighbors the Pileri's who had owned a bar in east Detroit at one time had licenses to carry a weapon,. They would strap on their holsters and walk over to our place looking out for me and my three children. It was a scary time for us all.

My father Chief Leslie James Thomson was then retired from the Detroit Fire Department in 1960 but was involved in the 1942 race riot in Detroit and had many experiences that he passed on to us.
That riot was just as severe as the 1967 riot and my father had light injuries from the confrontation.

Such a shame that those involved actually burned down their own homes and entire neighborhoods, lets pray that never happens again. Life was not easy for those living in my area after that, my children were not safe walking to and from school, our beautiful city has never been the same.

Original Format


Submitter's Name

Beverly Mayhew

Submission Date





“Beverly Mayhew,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed April 13, 2021,

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