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Mr. Bill Hawk Interview

Mr. Hawk Segment 1a
Mr. Hawk Segment 1b
Mr. Hawk Segment 1c
Mr. Hawk Segment 1d
Mr. Hawk Segment 1e
Mr. Hawk Segment 1f
Mr. Hawk Segment 2
Mr. Hawk Segment 3
Mr. Hawk Transcription Completed

Part One

[[00:00:00]] Mr. Hawk in middle of discussion about how to rejuvenate Detroit economically – shows photos of homes, childhood friends – Mr. Hawk discusses breweries at Gratiot, other pictures

[[00:03:00]] After Korean War, “we wound up moving to where the kitchen was. On Lafayette and Elmwood.” Mr. Hawk recounts his dog getting hit by a car, harassed by bullies

[[00:06:00]] Neighbor kid taught Mr. Hawk how to fight, age nine, after bully incident – became friends – he and his sister Bev would watch bars and street fights on Fridays and Saturdays

[[00:09:00]] Sunday was church day – beautiful dresses, hats – folks had chickens and gardens in yards and alleys, Sheeny wagon pulled by horse that Mr. Hawk would pet – time he swept laundromat for WWII veteran for a quarter

[[00:12:00]] Black veteran opened up laundromat after being released from duty – father of Italian neighbors built crates – recalls fire station – pulls out map

[[00:15:00]] Mr. Hawk says he’ll go back to the beginning of his story – looks at 1951 map on computer, says he’ll “get to that horrible story” about school

[[00:18:00]] Points out various streets, building he lived in – bar across street from his home would play “Blues from the Lowlands” – play in alleyways, take sleigh rides

[[00:21:00]] Mr. Hawk points out other sites, including orphanage – as a kid, he’d play in alleys, set maggots in garbage on fire – some houses had dirt floors – gives his name: Bill Hawk, born March 9, 1941

[[00:24:00]] Mr. Hawk born before WWII began – gives info on Catholic schools he went to, talented in mechanical engineering-related subjects – on recommendation from WWII vet teacher, enrolled in Washington Trade

[[00:27:00]] Bus rides to school were long, complicated, arduous – occasionally would get rides from daughter of Hamtramck Buick factory owner

[[00:30:00]] City originally had streetcars, but they were sold to Mexico city and replaced with buses – in school Mr. Hawk “became a black-white guy” in how he spoke – his parents moved to Black Bottom from Dresden State Fair on East Side – father ran a milk truck, picked up supplies from Twin Pines Creamery starting at 3:30 AM – Mr. Hawk would help him in summer

[[00:33:00]] Mr. Hawk’s father had the longest route – “from the Belle Isle Bridge to downtown Detroit” – Mr. Hawk goes into detail about different types of milk, employee nicknamed “Froggy” whose voice was ruined because he worked in an ice house – would load two giant ice blocks onto his father’s truck in summer

[[00:36:00]] Ice would be placed on top of batches of cases with tongs – Mr. Hawk remembers stopping for coffee (Dad) and cereal (for him) en route at Coffee and Donut shop – another stop was Park Davis pharmacy company – points it out on map as well as railroad track

[[00:39:00]] Mr. Hawk mentions other businesses, including Palace Model Laundry on Hastings and Jefferson

[[00:42:00]] says Laundry is a sweatshop now, factories on Atwater made leather goods for Harley Davidson – “when they wiped out Black Bottom they also wiped out people’s transportation to their jobs” – a “double-whammy” – as a little kid delivering milk he used to think the workers were giants

[[00:45:00]] Mr. Hawk says his father disciplined him if he broke a bottle – pinpoints Palace Model on west side of Hastings – it’s on the 1951 map – father taught him to make change with changer, recalls how he used to speak broken English with immigrant workers – mother’s family was German (name Thiery)

[[00:48:00]] Father was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania in 1900 – found work in glass foundry at age 13 – his father worked as conductor for Pennsylvania Railroad, became store owner in Pittsburgh – recalls parents’ names, father’s journey to Detroit

[[00:51:00]] Family dysfunction discussion – Mr. Hawk moves on to talk about Lutheran great-grandmother who raised out-of-wedlock children on Somerset

[[00:54:00]] One of the children she adopted became Mr. Hawk’s uncle Earl, who found he was adopted at age 18 and joined the army – became drill sergeant, talented caricaturist, pianist

[[01:00:00]] after more family member discussions, Mr. Hawk talks about how someone tried unsuccessfully to run his dad out of his milk route

[[01:03:00]] Father went into catering business, Mr. Hawk eventually quit

[[01:06:00]] Mr. Hawk says neighbors helped make the food – morphed into a large business by the time of father’s death in 1966 – Mr. Hawk still has “a difficult milk truck at home” – brother eventually inherited the business

[[01:15:00]] Mr. Hawk talks about layout of the city – white people from south were housed east of East Grand Boulevard

[[01:18:00]] Meanwhile, folks in Black Bottom were all Black – Mr. Hawk says the ’68 riots were not really riots until the police came in – has Kodak super-8 movie documenting events

[[01:24:00]] Mr. Hawk plays Jimmy Reed – recalls how cars would double-park outside musical ventures in Black Bottom area

[[01:27:00]] Mr. Hawk and son discuss the acts that went through Detroit, including John Lee Hooker – goes back to movie – shows white folks in car and then policemen emerge with shotgun, military tanks in otherwise-peaceful areas, including Black Bottom – some of the film Mr. Hawk shot never made it back to him…

[[01:30:00]] Mr. Hawk’s film continues – shows burning buildings – there was “civil insurrection” but no riot – gives Emily a DVD copy

[[01:39:00]] Mr. Hawk’s son and Emily in discussion about Black Bottom before Mr. Hawk explains the cleaners’ guy, long before, was worried he’d be run out of business, which he was, and Mr. Hawk remembers childhood memories of broken windows

[[01:42:00]] Was able to put experiences into perspective years later as caterer – goes on to describe humorous incidents on catering route, then describes family pictures as well as friends’ and relatives’ lives until the end of this part

Part Two

[[00:02:03]] Mr. Hawk recounts popularity of phrase “burn baby burn” in connection with ’68 incidents – “as soon as the sun started to go down you’d hear the guns start goin’ off”

Part Three

[[00:00:00]] Mr. Hawk in middle of convo with Emily on the Black Bottom website – Mr. Hawk remembers Italian vendors and the tamales and watermelon they’d sell with fondness – childhood memory from summers


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