Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Battle of the Ford Overpass - 1937

March 26, 1937 holds a place in the history of Detroit and the automobile industry as the day of The Battle of the Overpass (as described in the link to the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University). I write about this, even though it occurred 10 months before my birth) because of ties to my family.

Recently, when rummaging through old family photos, I came across several that were taken by my father 71 years ago today, March 23, 1937. They provide some visual evidence of the preparations for UAW (United Auto Workers) demonstrations going on at that time in their effort to unionize the assembly line workers at the Ford Motor Company. In scanning and posting these pictures, I leave dad's printed captions on them. I am not sure they are presented in the proper order but they do suggest the activities going on in the city in the days prior to the actual incident on the Miller Road pass.

As I recall from what I heard growing up, Richard Frankensteen, one of the UAW organizers beaten up that day by Ford "security personnel" was a client of my father's. About 12 years later, Walter Reuther, President of the UAW became a backyard neighbor of ours after an attempt on his life. I have fond memories of the Reuther's and their daughter. I remember the cherry tree in their back yard from which we were allowed to climb and gather fruit. I remember the security guards stationed at the house to protect against any further attacks on Reuther. As I grew older, I felt that, in a very small way, I had been part of the history of the UAW and its representation of the thousands of automobile workers in the Detroit area. Finding the pictures taken by my father brought back a lot of good memories from my childhood.


Eric Valentine said...

Those are some very fine condition photographs Leon, lots of history there. Thanks for sharing. :)

Leon said...

Eric, I came across a whole slew of pictures from the late 1930s when my father was most active as an amateur photographer. Some are amazing. I'll probably post more of them in the future.

Bill Cohen said...

Indeed, I concur with Eric. Amazing photos and good story to go with it. Family history I never knew- these posts are the most amazing and valuable as documents of family history. Thanks Dad!

Leon said...

Thanks Bill. For once I got back to the original reason I started the blog. I'll try to do more like this one on an ongoing basis.