Monday, November 20, 2017

Detroit/Windsor Sock-Hop-Jock Robin Seymour

Robin Seymour at the height of his popularity.
Robin Henry Seymour began his career in radio as a child actor on The Lone Ranger show on WXYZ in Detroit. Eventually, he became one of the country's most popular disc-jockeys. During World War II, Seymour spent part of his enlistment as a DJ on Armed Forces Radio.

Seymour's civilian broadcasting career resumed in 1947 in Dearborn, Michigan at WKMH. The newly formed radio station played mainstream pop music with news, sports, and weather segments. Soon, Seymour became the station's top jock who appealed to many of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario listeners. Seymour championed early rock & roll artists and was one of America's first DJs to play doo-wop music and black rhythm & blues which was labeled race music in those days.

As his popularity grew, Seymour began live appearances with his "Original Rock-n-Roll Revue" at Detroit's legendary Fox Theater. Seymour's personal theme song "Boppin' with the Robin" was recorded in 1956 by a group popular at the time--The Four Lads. They were accompanied by the Percy Faith Orchestra.

Canadian broadcaster CKLW hired Seymour to host a television teen dance show in 1963 entitled Teen Town, modeled on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Clark's show was broadcast nationally, but Seymour's regional show was wildly popular in the greater Detroit area.

With the help of rising Motown artists, the show gained popularity and was rebranded as Swinging Time. Local teens would dance to Top 40 hits and two kids were chosen from the audience to rate new records with an "aye" or a "nay." National acts performing in Detroit or Windsor appeared on Swinging Time to promote their live shows and records.

Seymour had the good fortune to feature virtually all the Motown artists--The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Little Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, and the list goes on. Swinging Time introduced white suburban teens to local black performers, helping bridge the racial divide in heavily segregated Detroit.

In addition to Motown artists, many local white rock group performers appeared on Seymour's show--people like Glenn Frey, Mitch Ryder, Ted Nugent, and Bob Seger. Because of technical limitations in those days, all of the performers lip-synced their records. The most frequently booked local group on his show was The Rationals--an Ann Arbor garage band.


Robin Seymour today.
When CKLW changed ownership in 1968, Robin Seymour was replaced by Tom Shannon, another popular Detroit DJ. America was undergoing drastic political and social turmoil and the music reflected that change. Ever try to dance to psychedelic music? The show dropped in the ratings and ended its run in 1969.

Robin Seymour is in his nineties living in San Antonio, Texas to be near family. He is currently working on his autobiography.

Robin Seymour's "Boppin' with the Robin" theme song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJFyQuvGG8g

Early Bob Seger performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMUrxXwL-NM

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bonnie and Clyde's Letter to Henry Ford

Bonnie and Clyde
The era of the Public Enemy in America was from 1931 through 1935 during the depths of the Great Depression. Names like John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, and Baby Face Nelson blazed across the headlines, but none of these criminals captured the imagination of the American public more than Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose daring exploits were romanticized by Midwesterners down on their luck. The press glamorized them in newspapers, news reels, and pulp mystery magazines. Their hardscrabble life on the road was anything but glamorous.

When Clyde teamed up with his brother Buck and various other gang members, the press referred to them as the Barrow Gang. Originally, they were cast as underdogs fighting a corrupt banking system and developed the urban myth of robbing the rich and giving to the poor.

Bonnie Parker with cigar.
On March 22, 1933, the gang narrowly escaped capture and left a cache of stolen weapons, a handwritten poem by Bonnie entitled the "Story of Suicide Sal", and a camera with three rolls of undeveloped film. The staged photos led to Bonnie's glamorization. Some showed Bonnie pointing guns at Clyde and one had her smoking a cigar. W.D. Jones, surviving gang member, testified that Bonnie never smoked cigars or shot at any policeman. She did chain smoke Camel cigarettes.

Clyde's favorite weapon was the .30 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) stolen from an armory. The gang also favored "whippet" guns (sawed-off shotguns) they could conceal under overcoats, and a variety of hand guns. The gang is credited with twelve bank robberies, but they preferred to rob small stores and rural gas stations. They killed nine police officers and a number of civilians who were unfortunate enough to get in their way. Their cold-bloodedness eventually soured the public's perception of the outlaws.

The Texas Department of Corrections contacted retired legendary Texas Ranger Frank A. Hamer. It could be argued that Hamer was more lethal than his quarry Clyde Barrow. Hamer was credited with fifty-three kills and surviving seventeen gunshot wounds. Law enforcement investigators studied the gang's movements and determined to set an ambush for them. The gang swung in a circle of five Midwestern states exploiting the "state line" law that prevented police from pursuing fugitives from one jurisdiction into another. 


On March 23, 1934 at 9:15 am, a posse of four Texas Rangers and two Louisiana officers hid behind roadside bushes waiting for Bonnie and Clyde to drive by. The posse heard Barrow's stolen Ford V8 speeding down the country road. The car slowed down when Clyde recognized a truck broken down on the side of the dirt road as belonging to a gang member's father whose farm they were hiding out at. When Clyde stopped the car offering to help, the posse opened up on the couple. First they emptied their BARs into the Ford, then they let go with a shotgun barrage, and finally they emptied their handguns. Though legend holds that each body was riddled with as many as fifty rounds apiece, coroner Dr. J.L. Wade's autopsy report documents seventeen bullet wounds on Clyde's body and twenty-six on Bonnie's body. Their remains were buried separately in Texas cemeteries.

A mere month before their deaths, automobile magnate Henry Ford received a letter proported to be from Clyde himself praising Mr. Ford's new V8 models. This letter is on display at the (Henry) Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.


Handwriting experts dispute the authenticity of the Barrow letter. The cursive does not compare favorably with a letter Clyde wrote to his mother two years earlier, but the letter compares more favorably with Bonnie's handwriting. You be the judge! Compare the writing samples in the link listed below that includes a letter reputed to be sent to Henry Ford by John Dillinger.

Ford letter handwriting samples: http://texashideout.tripod.com/comparison.html

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Gaslighting--A Sociopath's Favorite Tool

The psychological phenomenon known as gaslighting has become a colloquial term to describe a form of mental abuse where a dominant individual manipulates a weaker person's sense of psychological well-being to undermine the victim's mental stability. It is the manipulation of external reality to make someone doubt their sanity.

The term derives from the popular 1944 American film entitled Gaslight--based on a 1938 British stage play. Frenchman Charles Boyer plays the sociopathic husband of the psychologically frail Ingrid Bergman. This memorable film portrays a husband's attempt to destroy his wife's sanity by manipulating her perception of reality, so he can steal her jewels.

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman
Sociopaths instill a high level of anxiety and confusion to disorient their victims. Information is twisted and spun by them so victims begin to doubt themselves. Targets lose faith in their ability to make judgments and become insecure about their decision-making abilities.

Gaslighting describes an antisocial personality disorder that relies on deception, denial, mind games, sabotage, isolation, and destabilization. It is a form of narcissistic abuse that occurs in all types of relationships and every walk of life. This syndrome is often associated with marital relationships, but anyone can be a victim. Gaslighting can be seen in abusive parent-child relationships and in the workplace with an aggressive boss brow-beating his employees. It is mental bullying that can escalate into physical violence. These narcissists are puppet masters who often manipulate people for their own personal gain or to play twisted power and control games.

Gaslighting is a deliberate and progressive method of covert control that imposes a form of psychosis on its victims. Brainwashing, interrogation, isolation, and torture are all forms of psychological warfare used by the military, intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and terrorist organizations. On any level, it is a human and civil rights violation. 



***

For more detailed information on gaslighting and a link to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, view the following link: http://www.thehotline.org/2014/05/what-is-gaslighting/

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Scarab Club--Heart of Detroit's Arts Scene

Despite celebrating its one-hundred and tenth anniversary as the center of Detroit, Michigan's artist community, the Scarab Club is relatively unknown to many people in the greater Detroit area. In its heyday, the club held themed costume balls annually from 1917 through the 1950s, with as many as 1,800 Detroiters in attendance. 

To revitalize the club, current Executive Director Ashley Hennen told me when I visited in October that the club is rebranding itself to attract more local artists, art lovers, and the general public. In spring of 2016, the Mars Agency was hired to update the club's logo, their website, and their outreach programs. The club's new motto is We Know Detroit by Art.

The original club was named for master marine and landscape painter Robert Hopkins (1832-1909). After a successful showing of his work at The Detroit Museum of Art in 1907, Hopkins and his fellow artists formed an artists' club. They named the Hopkins Club in his honor. The original mission of the club has changed little over the years.
  • promote the mutual acquaintance of art lovers and artists
  • stimulate and guide the artistic sense of the people of Detroit
  • advance the knowledge and love of the fine arts
  • maintain a clubhouse for entertainment and social purposes
  • and provide working and exhibit facilities for artist members

Scarab detail over club entrance.
In 1913, the club changed its name to the Scarab Club and adopted the Egyptian symbol of rebirth--the scarab beetle--as its mascot. The three story brick building that currently houses the Scarab Club was designed by member architect Lancelot Sukert and opened in October of 1928. It is located at 217 Farnsworth Street amidst Detroit's Historic Museum District.

The exterior architecture of the building is Renaissance Revival. A glazed terracotta scarab emblem adorns the south facade. The club has a great deal of history and tradition. The building is listed on the United States National Registry of Historic Places, it is designated a Michigan Historical Site, and it is entered on the Register of Historic Buildings for Detroit.

Signing in on October 20, 2017.
The interior of the clubhouse is finished in the Arts and Craft style popular in the early twentieth-century. Club member Alfred Nygard carved and painted the scarab panel poised above the guest book as visitors enter the front lobby. The main floor is used as a gallery and performance area. The second floor was a members-only lounge in its early days. Above the fireplace is a mural painted on pine planks by Paul Honore in 1928 entitled "The Scarab Club Family Tree."

Early in the club's history, the ceiling beams of the members only lounge served as the club's guest book. Poet Vachel Lindsay is said to be the first to sign. Over two-hundred and thirty others have signed the beams including Norman Rockwell, Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, William Milliken (Michigan governor), and John Sinclair. The third floor has six working studios not open to the public.

William (Bill) Bostick in 1980.
The Scarab Club was originally a men's-only organization. Women were not permitted above the first floor gallery. William Bostick joined the club in 1937 and acted as president and chairman of various committees. He was to become administrator of the Detroit Institute of Arts from 1946 until his retirement in1976. Bostick championed inclusion of women into the club. He remembered his mothers' disappointment when she was not allowed to practice her profession as an archeologist because women were forbidden to go on digs with men. Bostick shamed the club's board to include women for auxillary membership. Women were given full membership rights in 1962.

Scarab panel detail.
The Scarab Club serves the visual, the literary, and the musical arts. Since 1998, the club has instituted Chamber Music at the Scarab Club and the Blues Heritage Concert Series, but the original mission remains intact. The Scarab Club "continues to be a driving force in the artistic community and is proud to serve Michigan as a cultural stimulant for artistic diversity in the 21st century."

For more information contact: www.scarabclub.org

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

WEMU "Hidden In Plain Sight" Broadcast--John Norman Collins

Photo taken by Nicole Fribourg.
On October 18th, 2017, WEMU in Ypsilanti, Michigan asked me to record my observations while touring some of the landmarks of John Norman Collins's serial killing spree in Washtenaw County in the late 1960s. One link takes you to the internet article; the other takes you to the audio.

My remarks are based on my true crime book Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked available in a paperback edition, all ebook formats, and an audiobook at http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C

Link to the WEMU article: http://wemu.org/post/hidden-plain-sight-terror-ypsilanti#stream/0

Link to MP3 audio: https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wemu/audio/2017/10/terror_in_ypsi.mp3

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

WEMU to Air Terror In Ypsilanti Audio Tour


Last week, Eastern Michigan University's NPR radio station in Ypsilanti serving Washtenaw County recorded my observations on several sites important to the John Norman Collins killing spree of 1967-1969. WEMU will air an eight-minute feature on Monday, October 30th. If you can't listen to the program when it airs, I'll run a link on this blog and route it on my social media outlets.


Patrick Campion
Program Director Patrick Campion and I stopped at the boarding house where Collins lived and sexually harassed a number of young women; then, we went to the wig shop where Karen Sue Beineman was last seen alive getting onto the back of Collins's stolen Triumph motorcycle; next, we stopped outside the David Leik house where Collins tortured and killed Miss Beineman in the basement; and finally, we drove to the gully in Ann Arbor where Miss Beineman's body was found.

Special thanks to Lisa Powers--University of Michigan Office of Student Publications--for taking photographs of this outing.

***

2017 has been a great year for Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked (TIY). In addition to winning an International Book Award and a Literary Classics Silver Award, TIY just won an Independent Author Network finalist award. I'd like to thank my loyal readers for their support, especially those who wrote Amazon book reviews.

http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C 
  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne Namesake--"Mad" Anthony Wayne

General Anthony Wayne--AKA Dapper.
Throughout the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan the name "Mad" Anthony Wayne resonates in communities far and wide. Scores of towns, cities, counties, schools, parks, hospitals, streets, and businesses have been named after this Revolutionary War general.

General Anthony Wayne led his soldiers in essentially rear guard actions harassing the British behind their lines. In several successful skirmishes with the enemy, he ordered surprise "bayonet only" attacks at night that inflicted many casualties. He was known as a courageous general--decisive and quick to act.

The legend behind the sobriquet "Mad" Anthony Wayne owes little to the general's military achievements. It has more to do with a drunk and disorderly colonist--known as Jemmy the Rover--who the general sometimes used as a spy. A constable arrested the man who began to drop the general's name. When the general heard this, he threatened Jemmy with "twenty-nine lashes well laid on if this happens again."

In disbelief, the now sober Jemmy replied, "He must be mad or else he would help me. Mad Anthony, that's what he is. Mad Anthony Wayne." The story made its way around town and became a favorite among the troops. The general's nickname had a rhythm and bravado that was repeated in the ranks until it stuck.

President George Washington called Major-General Wayne out of retirement to command the newly formed Legion of the United States. Wayne established the first basic training facility to prepare professional soldiers from regular army recruits.

Wayne mustered and trained a fighting force of 1,350 American soldiers and led them to the Northwest Territory (Ohio and Michigan) where they won a decisive victory against British forces and the Indian Confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, just south of modern-day Toledo, Ohio. The war ended and Major-General Wayne negotiated the Treaty of Greenville between the tribal confederacy and the United States signed on August 3, 1795.

Returning to Pennsylvania after the conflict, Wayne died from complications of gout on December 15, 1796. He was buried at Fort Presque Isle. His body was disinterred in 1809 at the request of his family--to be buried in a family plot. His bones make the journey to Radnor, Pennsylvania in saddlebags. For that grisly bit of history, consult the link below.

***

Aerial View of Old Fort Wayne.

The star-shaped fort in Detroit, Michigan--which bears Anthony Wayne's name--began construction in 1842 at the Detroit River's narrowest point with Canada. Fear of a territorial war with British Canada prompted the fort's building. It was named to honor Major-General Wayne's defeat of the British at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The victory resulted in the United States occupation of the Northwest Territories. Diplomats were able to settle territorial disputes, and the war with Canada never materialized. The new fort never fired a shot.

***

Fort Wayne was first used by Michigan troops in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. It became the primary induction center for Michigan troops for every field of American combat from the Civil War through Vietnam.

During World War II, every truck, Jeep, tank, tire, spare part, or war ordinance manufactured in Detroit went through the docks of Fort Wayne to the battlefronts. Also, Italian prisoners of war from the North Africa Campaign were housed at the fort. After Italy's surrender, Italian POWs were given the chance to return home. Many chose to settle in Detroit where there was an established Italian-American community and greater opportunities awaiting them.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Fort Wayne's grounds were open to assist and house homeless families. During the Cold War of the 1950s, Nike-Ajax missiles were installed to prepare for a nuclear war that never came. During the Detroit riots in 1967, the fort was again used to house displaced families, the last leaving in 1971.

Today, the Detroit Recreation Department operates the fort with the help of the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, the Friends of Fort Wayne, and the Detroit Historical Society. The grounds are the home of the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, the Great Lakes Indian Museum, and historic Civil War reenactments. Special events are held throughout the year.

Fort Wayne was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958 and entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The State of Michigan wants to upgrade the property into a multi-use facility while maintaining the fort's historical significance. Once the new International Transport Bridge is built in old Delray, the United States customs plaza will be located near the historic site. More information on restoration plans can be found in the Detroit News link below.

*** 


Bruce Wayne--Millionaire Industrialist
While researching this post, I discovered that Batman's alter ego--Bruce Wayne--was named after Scottish patriot Robert Bruce and "Mad" Anthony Wayne. In DC Comics, Bruce Wayne is said to be General Wayne's direct descendant, and stately Wayne Manor is built on ground given to General Wayne for his Revolutionary War service.

Another little known fact is that in 1930, stunt man and young actor Marion Michael Morrison was originally given the stage name of Anthony Wayne by director Raoul Walsh. Fox Studios changed his name to John Wayne because Anthony sounded too Italian.


***

For more information on preservation plans for Historic Fort Wayne:
The story of General Anthony Wayne's exhumation may be more noteworthy than his military achievements. For more details, check out this link: http://www.americanrevolution.org/wayne.php

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Is Madness Anyway? Simply a Personality Disorder?


My research into the minds of mass murderers and serial killers informs me that if a person feels he or she can take the lives of innocent people without guilt or remorse, that individual is incurably a psychopath and a permanent danger to society.

Extreme behaviors the average person might simply call insane, the legal and mental health communities call personality disorders representing a wide range of aberrant behaviors, but despite the euphemism they all spell grief and tragedy for the victims and the people who love them.

Mental illness is rampant in America. We see it in our families, in society at large, and on the nightly news. No sector of society is immune from it. To better recognize and understand what personality disorders are and how the mental health community categorizes them, I've attached a link from the National Mental Health Foundation. This is a national crisis.

http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/personality-disorders

Monday, October 2, 2017

Detroit's Beloved Weatherman Sonny Eliot

Sonny Eliot and friend.
Weatherman Sonny Eliot was well-known to generations of Detroiters. He began his career in 1947 at the very beginning of television broadcasting in Detroit and spent thirty-five years at WWJ (now WDIV), which included seventeen years hosting "At the Zoo." For many years, he was the Master of Ceremonies for Detroit's J.L. Hudson's Thankgiving Day Parade. In 2010, Eliot retired from broadcasting.

Sonny Eliot was a cultural icon for Baby Boomers and their parents. Once called the Ernie Harwell (Detroit Tiger sportscaster) of weather, Eliot had an unprecented 50% share of Detroit's television market during his weather segment. Perhaps he is best described as a borscht-belt comic weatherman and best known for his hybrid blending of weather conditions like "snog" for snow/fog, "cloggy" for cloudy/foggy, and "droudy" for dreary/cloudy. In addition to his television career, he was the author of four children's books. Eliot had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to make people laugh.

Marvin Schlossberg was born on Hastings Street December 5, 1920. He was the youngest child of Latvian Jewish parents. His mother nicknamed him "Sonny." He credits his mother for his sense of humor. His parents owned and ran a hardware store on Detroit's East Side. As he grew up, Sonny developed a passion for flying.


B-24 Liberator bomber
"During World War II, he was a B-24 bomber pilot who was shot down over Germany. Flak tore into his plane in February of 1944. He held the bomber as steady as he could while his crew parachuted before he jumped. Sonny was apprehended by a German farmer armed with a pitchfork and spent eighteen months in Stalagluft I until the end of the war. The POW camp was located near Barth, Germany. It was liberated the night of April 30, 1945, by Russian troops. The American prisoners were soon evacuated by American aircraft in "Operation Revival" and returned home.

Mel Butsicaris, son of Johnny Butsicaris and nephew of Jimmy Butsicaris, the Lindell AC bar owners, gave me permission to share his Facebook post on the Sonny Eliot he knew.

"Sonny was an incredible man and many stories have been told and written about his life. He lived, worked, and played in Detroit, so people felt like they knew him because he would take the time to acknowledge them. Uncle Sonny is what I called him. He was a unique man and a joy to be around: funny, smart, adventurous, generous, and fun-loving. He fit in with anybody he was with.

"People would see Uncle Sonny hanging out at the Lindell AC (Athletic Club) sports bar during the week. My dad even gave him an office on the second floor of our building. But on the weekends he focused on his two loves--his wife Annette and flying with my dad in an airplane they co-owned. Flying was their shared addiction.

"Uncle Sonny made everyone feel like a friend, so people naturally felt like they knew him. I have lost track of how many times people have come up to me and say they saw Sonny Eliot drunk at the Lindell feeling no pain, or Sonny was so funny after he had a few drinks. Newsflash! Sonny Eliot did not drink alcohol.

"To all the people that bought Uncle Sonny a drink in the Lindell, I am sorry for overcharging you, but you insisted I make him a drink. I would give him his usual glass of soda water with a splash of ginger ale for some color and a lemon twist. I would put my finger over the pour spout so it only looked like he was getting whiskey. His drinking was an act, but his wit, fun-loving personality, and his genuine kindness were real."


Marvin (Sonny Eliot) Schlossberg died peacefully among family and friends in his Farmington Hills home on November 16, 2012, at the age of ninty-one. Sonny Eliot led a remarkable life touching the lives of millions of Detroiters and leaving us better for the experience.

WWJ video tribute to Sonny Eliot--https://youtu.be/Y0iVuyfDUjM

Sonny Eliot news story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZD-gKG5-g8

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Criminalistic Junk Science

Cesare Lombroso
In the late nineteenth-century, Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso advanced the idea of the "born criminal" based loosely on the work of naturalist Charles Darwin. Lombroso believed the criminal could be distinguished by "abnormalities" in the skull, face, and body. He compiled a list of criminal traits including receding hairline, forehead wrinkles, bumpy face, broad noses, fleshy lips, sloping shoulders, elongated arms, and pointed fingers.

In the Gilded Age of Queen Victoria, the belief there was a "face of evil" was an easy one in the era of Jack the Ripper. In the first half of the twentieth-century, this theory was strongly reinforced in American popular culture through radio mysteries, crime cinema, dime novels, and pulp-fiction detective magazines. This folklore reinforced the idea that criminals are easily identified because they look different from other people--loosely defined as "us".


Rather than scientific, these ideas broke along racial and ethnic lines. In nineteenth-century America, religion was also considered a prejudicial factor in determining guilt. It was generally believed by Anglo-Saxon Protestants--who made up the social and power elite--that Catholic and Jewish immigrants bore a greater responsibility for crime in cities like Boston and New York than law-abiding American folk. In Germany, the Nazis made great use of the pseudo-science of Social Darwinism against European Jews, which they documented to their shame in the last century.


In the early twentieth century, two new forms of pseudoscience gained popularity in law enforcement circles, the polygraph test--also known as a "lie detector" test--and the intravenous injection of truth serum. The polygraph machine measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity. The belief is that deceptive answers will record a different response that true responses. 

Sodium pentothal was invented in 1934 intended to be a pain killer, but it was found to relax subjects who would answer questions put to them in an unguarded and uninhibited fashion while under the influence of the sedative. During World War II, the drug was widely used as an anti-anxiety drug by psychiatrists for battle fatigue.

Polygraph printout.
Polygraph tests measure arousal and are inherently subjective. They can be affected by anxiety disorders and other factors. In 2002, the National Research Council noted "There is no specific physiological reaction associated with lying. The mechanisms associated with lying are unknown making it difficult to identify factors that separate liars from truth tellers." The National Academy of Sciences stated that polygraph tests "are simply unreliable, unscientific, biased, and inadmissible in the United States court system."

The belief that lie detectors are a useful forensic tool is generally discredited, but the myth is keep alive in the popular culture through fiction and film. Polygraph tests today are the subject of comedy as in Meet the Parents 3 where Robert De Niro straps a vintage polygraph machine to Ben Stiller for comic effect.


The idea of truth serum also has been the mainstay of pulp-fiction and true crime magazines. Its conceptual originator was Dr. Robert House in 1915. He gave the drug scopolamine to women during childbirth and noticed that they would speak spontaneously and respond to any questions put to them while under the influence. 

Sodium pentothal was invented in 1934 by Ernest H. Volwiler and Donalie L. Tabern as a sedative or painkiller, but it soon became what the public regarded as truth serum. Side effects included short-term memory loss, headache, nausea, agitation, drowsiness, and up to a three day hangover.

In 1963, the United States Supreme Court ruled that "barbiturate confessions" produced under the influence of truth serum were unconstitutionally coerced and therefore inadmissible. Truth serum results are not accepted by Western legal systems and legal experts as genuine investigative tools.

There is no drug proven to cause consistent or predictable enhancement of truth-telling. Studies have found that subjects questioned under the influence of truth serum are suggestible and their memories are subject to reconstruction and fabrication. Another problem is what the subject perceives as truth cannot be differentiated from unbiased, factual truth.

Unlike fingerprint and DNA science, Social Darwinism, polygraph tests, and truth serum are considered junk science and have no place in modern investigative forensics.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ypsilanti's Historic Depot Town

Mark Norris (1796-1862)
Ypsilanti, Michigan was a ramshackle frontier town on the old Chicago Road in 1828 when pioneer Mark Norris and his family settled just east of the Huron River. Perhaps more than any other Ypsilanti citizen, Norris advanced the development of the city. He was an industrious and shrewd businessman. He owned a wool carding company, a dry goods store, the Western Hotel next to the railroad, the Norris Block building on River Street, and the Ypsilanti Flour Mill.

Original Ypsilanti Depot
It was Mark Norris who convinced the Michigan Central Railroad to make Ypsilanti a scheduled stop and construct a wooden loading dock and a freight warehouse giving birth to Depot Town. The first train arrived on February 2, 1838. Ypsilanti was no longer an isolated frontier town. It became an economic hub for the area's growing agricultural and manufacturing concerns.

The Depot Town businesses on the ground floor catered to the needs of weary travellers and light manufacturing. The upper floors were used for lodging, warehousing, or residential use. In 1864, the railroad built a lovely, three-story train depot said to be the nicest between Detroit and Chicago. Unfortunately, the upper floors were destroyed by fire in 1910--only the ground floor was rebuilt.

Depot Town became a staging area for the Underground Railroad from 1841 until the 1860s. Escaped slaves hid in safe houses or wherever they could during the day and traveled down the Huron River at night. During the Civil War, the 14th Michigan Infantry Regiment and the 27th Michigan Infantry Regiment shipped out from Depot Town heading for the South.

Cross Street Bridge is left--Depot Town is right.
A thriving two-block-long commercial district grew up along both sides of East Cross Street. Mark Norris built his flour mill on the northeast corner of Cross Street next to the Huron River sometime in the 1850s. A water canal raceway powered the waterwheel. The property changed hands several times. In 1874, William Deubel bought the mill and ran it with his sons. The mill was damaged by fire in 1915 and rebuilt. It became obsolete in the electrical age and was demolished in 1925.


Frog Island Bridge--March 8, 1935.
The old flour mill was gone, but the water raceway remained. During the Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built a footbridge north off the Cross Street Bridge over the raceway leading to Frog Island Park. The following year on March 8th, 1935, the body of seven-year-old Richard Streicher, Jr. was found stabbed and frozen to death beneath the footbridge.

Richard Streicher, Jr. post:
https://fornology.blogspot.com/2016/11/little-richard-streicher-ypsilantis.html 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Unexpected America: A Memoir by Wanjiru Warama

At the age of six, Wanjiru Warama [WAHN-jee-row Wa-RAH-Ma] had no knowledge of the world outside the Rift Valley in the East African British colony of Kenya. Her father was from the Kikuyu tribe, the largest ethnic group in the country and loyal to the British. He worked for a wealthy farm owner but only made enough money for his family to live in abject poverty. 

After World War II, it became increasingly difficult for European countries to maintain a colonial presence in Africa. Kenya was given its independence from the United Kingdom in 1963 after eight years of guerrilla warfare known as the Mau Mau Uprising from 1952 through 1960. Amidst this political and civil strife, Wanjiru was sent to Nairobi where she was fortunate enough to be enrolled in a school where she earned a high school diploma.

Realizing education and job training were her only avenues for social mobility and personal independence, Wanjiru was motivated to pursue a business degree from United States International University (USIU) in Naiorbi. Reasoning that opportunities were scarce in the capital city of Nairobi and wanting to expand her horizon, Wanjiru saved up enough money from her clerical job to finance the final year of her bachelor degree program and transfer to the USIU San Diego campus.


San Diego Festival of books--August 2017.
This is where Wanjiru Warama's memoir Unexpected America begins. Armed with a certified check made out to USIU for a year's expenses, a student visa, and a plane ticket, Wanjiru arrives to make her stake on the American Dream only to discover a culture shock beyond her imagination. Her naive view of America collides squarely with the harsh realities of being an immigrant, a minority, and a woman in America--compounded by being in one of the most competitive job markets in the United States, San Diego, California.

Told in straightforward prose with revealing candor, Wanjiru weaves her story of determination, hard work, and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds to establish herself as an American citizen. May her story be an inspiration to others who come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-America-Wanjiru-Warama/dp/0998051306/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504469409&sr=1-1&keywords=Unexpected+America

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Preston Tucker from Ypsilanti, Michigan



One of the least recognized of Ypsilanti's notable citizens was Preston Tucker, an automobile innovator who many automotive historians believed was way ahead of his time.
                                                     
In 1939, Tucker moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, and opened the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company. There he innovated and produced the Tucker Turret used on PT boats, landing craft, the B-17, and the B-29 during World War II. That's where he made his fortune. After the war, he turned his attention toward his life-long passion--automobiles.

The Big Three (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) Detroit automakers had not developed a new car since World War II began. This opened the door for small, independent automakers to produce post-war cars for a starving market. Studebaker--out of Indiana--was the first to produce an entirely new automobile after the war.

But Tucker's vision was to design and build a car with modern styling and safety innovations. He pioneered hydraulic drive systems, fuel injection, direct-drive torque converters, disc brakes, easily accessible instrument panel, padded dashboard, self-sealing tubeless tires, independent springless suspension, laminated windshield, an air-cooled aircraft engine, and a "cyclops" center headlight which would turn when steering around a corner for better visibility while driving at night. The "cyclops" became a fixed headlamp on the production model. There were only fifty Tuckers ever built.


Academy Award winner, Jeff Bridges, played Preston Tucker
masterfully in the 1988 movie--Tucker: A Man and His Dream. An interesting aside to the film is that Jeff's father, Lloyd Bridges, played the Michigan senator that kicked the legs out from under the automotive innovator. It's fun to see the real-life father and son actors battle it out in the film. Baby Boomer's will remember Lloyd Bridges from the 1950s television series--Sea Hunt. Younger viewers may remember him from the movie--Airplane.

I have been fortunate to have seen two working Tuckers, and a third fiberglass mock up used in the filming of the movie. One of the cars is in the Henry Ford Museum; another is in Auburn, Indiana, at their Auburn/Cord/Dussenberg Automobile Museum; and the fiberglass mock-up used in the movie is at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Depot Town on East Cross Street in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Check it out the next time you are in town.

More specifics on Preston Tucker can be found in the link below. He died of lung cancer on December 26th, 1956, at the age of fifty-three. He is buried at Michigan Memorial Park in Flatrock, Michigan.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Winding Down Terror In Ypsilanti

My wife and I at Detroit Bookfest 2017.
Since Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked was published last August, it has done well in the marketplace for an independently published book. This project took me, with the help of my researcher Ryan M. Place, five years to gather and research public documents, interview people connected with the case, and write the book; almost a year to edit the manuscript and publish it; and a solid year to promote the title and arrange author talks and book signings. It's been a busy year.

Over the last seven years, I have made nineteen round-trip flights from San Diego to Detroit to bring the tragic facts of these fifty-year-old serial murders to the forefront. Six of the seven murders never went to trial, so those facts were largely unknown to the public.

Writing TIY has met or surpassed all of my original goals. I set out to:
  • recognize and pay respect to the memories of John Norman Collins's victims, their identities obfuscated by the use of pseudonyms in an earlier novelized account,
  • clarify the facts and circumstances surrounding these murders obscured by time and misinformation on the Internet,
  • reconstitute a faithful rendition of the Collins case which was purged from the files of the Washtenaw County Court sometime in 1976,
  • and counter the blatant lies, alibis, and prevarications of Collins's attempts from prison to manipulate the press and the public. These falsehoods were given new life by social media.
The positive book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are appreciated more than I can say, but occasionally I receive an email or letter of a personal nature which helps validate the long and difficult task it took to cobble this tragic story together.

The latest letter I received was from Michaeline B. after my July tour in Michigan. She gave me permission to run an edited version of her remarks. Being able to move people with words may be the most satisfying thing I have accomplished with my writing. On this note, I end my 2017 promotions and move forward to my next project.

"It was a pleasure meeting you. I have finished Terror In Ypsilanti. My testament to your writing skills can best be told this way: I am an avid reader who almost never reads hard copy books. Ebooks suit my reading style and needs better. Yet, I read Terror in record time, adjusting my reading prerequisites accordingly without complaint. I even lugged this paperback around during the Traverse City Film Festival to better use my waiting-in-line time.

This is not a feel good book in any usual sense as the story is awful and sad. However, as one who is disturbed by the shortcomings--even the failures of our (criminal) justice system--you make a very satisfying case for justice decently served. I appreciate that.

The late sixties found me preoccupied with early motherhood duties and the big public events of the period (Vietnam, civil rights, the moon walk, etc.). Overwhelming! To a large extent, John Norman Collins and the related horror barely made it onto my radar screen. In some unspoken and unrecognized sense, I chastised myself over the years for my neglect. Thanks to you, I have done my duty to be informed on this matter--finally.

Devoting five years to this endeavor is a high price to pay, Greg. Please accept my humble thanks, admiration, and congratulations.... I look forward to reading Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel."

I thank Michaeline for sharing her story with me, and I appreciate every book review readers write on Amazon and Goodreads. It is these word-of-mouth endorsements that make the best kind of promotion and warm this author's heart.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Detroit Bookfest 2017 Surpasses Expectations


Organized as a "goodwill effort to help generate a deeper love and appreciation of books in the Greater Detroit community," the Bookclub of Detroit sponsored Bookfest 2017 was a rousing success for the city and festival organizers. Held in Shed 5 at the historic Eastern Market on Detroit's eastside, people from every corner of the city and the surrounding suburbs came out in force. The foot traffic was strong all day. Thousands of people attended.


Author Herb Boyd
In adition to rare and used books, contemporary works and their authors were present as exhibitors, most notably Herb Boyd, the author of recently published Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination. I was happy to meet Herb and get his autograph on my copy. Michigan independent author Claudia Whitsitt and yours truly shared a table and did quite well at the end of the day. 

Making a sale.
Books were not the only attraction. Vendors included food trucks, craft beer, photography, vintage LP vinyl, movie memorabilia, local craft items, clothing, and more. The festival was a free, family friendly event and a good time was had by all.

While talking with Janet Jones, owner of Source Booksellers in Midtown Detroit, I commented on how Bookfest appeared to be a big hit. Her response was, "That it happened at all was good for the city." I agree with Janet and I will be back next year for Bookfest II.

Congratulations to Ryan M. Place and his team for organizing such a well-run and well-received event. In addition to the Bookclub of Detroit, other Bookfest sponsors were the City of Detroit, Eastern Market, Margrave Pictures, Cafe D'Mongo's, John K. King Used Books, White Raven Books, Black Lotus Brewing Co., and DJ Zig-Zag.
***

Life In Michigan pictorial: http://www.lifeinmichigan.com/detroit-book-festival-2017/

For more information on Detroit's Eastern Market:
https://www.easternmarket.com/ 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Willow Run Bomber Plant Changes Ypsilanti Forever


Original Three-story Ypsilanti Depot Station.
At the turn of the century, before the second World War, Ypsilanti had an active downtown area along Michigan Avenue. Northeast of town, there was a thriving business district called Depot Town.

Depot Town was the area's commercial hub and provided services for weary train travelers. Ypsilanti's three-story brick depot station was ornate compared to the depot in Ann Arbor. In its day, it was said to be the nicest train station between Detroit and Chicago.

The Norris Building built in 1861 was across from the depot on River Street. It was originally supposed to house a retail block on the ground floor and residential rooms on the two upper floors. Instead, the building became an army barracks during the Civil War. The 14th Michigan Infantry Regiment shipped out of Depot Town in 1862, as did the 27th Michigan Regiment in 1863. 

The facade of the historic Norris Building remains on North River Street, despite a fire which decimated the rear portion of this last remaining Civil War barracks in Michigan. Work has begun on rebuilding the historic building.

Michigan State Normal School was located west of Depot Town on West Cross Street and northwest of downtown Ypsilanti. It spawned a growing educational center which later expanded its mission to become Eastern Michigan University. 

Ypsilanti's residential area with its historic and varied architecture filled the spaces between. Surrounding everything was some of the most fertile farm land in the state.

The water-powered age of nineteenth century manufacturing on the Huron River gave way to the modern electrical age of the twentieth century. The soft beauty of the gas light to illuminate homes was replaced with the harsh glare of the incandescent light bulb. The times were changing for Ypsilanti--ready or not.

***

The countryside was prime tillable ground with fruit groves scattered about the countyside. Henry Ford owned a large tract of land in an area known as Willow Run, named for the small river that ran through it. The Ford patriarch used the land to plant soybeans, but the United States government needed bombers for the Lend Lease program with Great Britain. On December 8, 1941, one day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the Nazis declared war on the United States on behalf of their ally. America was drawn into the second world war.

The Roosevelt administration asked the Ford corporation, now run by Edsel Ford, to build a factory that could mass produce the B-24 Liberator Bomber. Edsel Ford, Charles Sorenson (production manager), and some Ford engineers visited the Consolidated Aircraft Company in San Diego to see how the planes were built. 

That night, Sorenson drew up a floor plan that could build the bomber more efficiently. His blueprint was a marvel of ingenuity, but the Ford corporation made one significant change in his master plan.

The best shape to build a front to back assembly line operation is in a straight line. But to avoid the higher taxes in Democratic Wayne County, the bomber plant took a hard right to the south on one end to stay within Republican Washtenaw County, which had lower taxes. This was at the insistance of Harry Bennett, Ford's head of security who had strong ties to Washtenaw County being a graduate of Ann Arbor High School.

The construction of the plant in Willow Run began in May of 1941, seven months before Pearl Harbor. Lengendary Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed the largest factory in the world, but it would be his last project. He died in 1942.

The federal government bought up land adjacent to the bomber plant and built an airport which still exists today and is used for commercial aviation. The eight-sectioned hangar could house twenty Liberators.

***
Soon, workers flooded into Ypsilanti and the rapidly developing Willow Run area where makeshift row housing was hastily constructed. Overnight, the sleepy farming and college town of Ypsilanti became a three shift, 24/7, blue collar community. 

Suddenly the area was hit with a housing shortage. Ypsilanti homeowners rented rooms to workers or converted their large Victorian homes into boarding houses. It was wartime and money was to be made. Some families rented "warm beds." One worker would sleep in the bed while another was working his shift, but still there was a housing shortage. Many people slept in their cars until they could make other arrangements. 

Ford sent recruiters to Kentucky and Tennessee to draw workers in from the south. That is when the derisive term "Ypsitucky" originated. Long time residents did not like the changes they saw in their town. The bomber factory workers worked hard and drank hard. Fights broke out in local bars, and Ypsilanti developed a hard edge and a dark reputation.

Because so many men were in uniform serving their country, there was a shortage of skilled labor at first. But then the women of Southern Michigan stepped up big time. They donned work clothes, and tied up their long hair in colorful scarves. It was calculated at the end of the war that 40% of every B-24 Liberator was assembled by women.

***

Little known factoid: The first stretch of expressway in America was made with Ford steel and Ford cement. It connected workers in the Detroit area to their jobs at the bomber plant in Willow Run via Ecorse Road. It's still there and runs along the north end of the former GM Hydromatic Plant and Willow Run Airport.

***

The Yankee Air Museum housed on the east end of Willow Run Airport was established in 1981 to restore and preserve the almost forgotten history of Willow Run Airport, and to commemorate the achievement of the men and women who helped win the war by the sweat of their brow producing 8,685 B-24 Liberators.

Background history of the Yankee Air Museum: http://yankeeairmuseum.org/our-history/

The following link has some vintage bomber plant footage: http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti/pbs-to-air-documentary-about-ypsilantis-legendary-willow-run-b-24-bomber-factory/