Friday, January 26, 2024

Five the Hard Way in Detroit's Gamble for Casino Gold

Detroit like almost everywhere else has a long history of gambling, but when it came to approving Las Vegas-style casinos within the city limits, it took voters five propositions and twenty-two years for supporters to outvote the opposition. Detroit's religious community mounted a campaign against what they felt was the moral decline of the city. Because Detroit's mayor Coleman Young was the spokesperson for the legislation to legalize casino gambling within the city limits, he became the focus for everything that was wrong about Detroit.

Mayor Young was confronted by a $44.3 million budget deficit by the end of the 1976 fiscal year, the largest operating deficit ever run by the city. To avoid the anticipated layoff of city workers, wage and hiring freezes, and incentives for early retirements, something decisive had to be done. The proposal to legalize casino gambling in Detroit was dubbed "the Circuit Breaker Proposal." It was sponsored in Lansing by Michigan House of Representive Democrat Casmer Oganowski.

The proposal called for a state casino gambling commission to license and regulate games of chance, namely blackjack (21), baccarat, keno, craps, roulette, wheel of fortune, and slot machines. It was not as if gambling and betting parlors were unknown in the city. Cards, dice, and other games of chance like flipping coins, pitching pennies, shooting pool, three card monte, and sports gambling were commonplace among Detroit's blue collar workforce. 

Three Card Monte

In the inner city, "playing the numbers" had long been part of the urban experience where bettors had much better odds of winning than in the Lottos run by the state of Michigan. In addition, backroom club gambling and poker rooms have always operated just below the surface of polite society for people who could afford losing money. Those who could not were soon given the bum's rush.

Many churches have long raised funds by hosting bingo nights and casino gambling charity events to add to their coffers. But Las Vegas-style casinos in one of America's largest cities posed a major threat to a city already struggling with more than its share of urban problems.

Fears of more organized crime, public corruption, increased poverty, prostitution, alcoholism, drug abuse, and immorality were the powerful talking points of the opposition. Because of the heightened emotion connected with this issue, Republican politicians and the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press came out firmly opposed to the proposition.

Supporters of casino gambling touted how many thousands of jobs would be created in a town with high unemployment and poverty. First, construction jobs would be created, and once the casios were operational, thousands of permanent jobs would be created. Casino gambling would revitalize Detroit's blighted downtown cityscape by generating an estimated $200 million in taxes with increased business revenues generated.

The day before the election, the Detroit Free Press urged voters to vote "No" on the advisory question to allow up to six state licensed and regulated casinos in Detroit. Voters defeated the gambling advisory referendum by 59% for a decisive win. Republican Governor William Milliken and the Detroit Area Council of Churches were the most outspoken opponents advocating the referendum's defeat. Michigan House of Representative Cass Organowski and Mayor Coleman Young vowed to continue supporting casino gambling within the Detroit city limits.

The day after the vote, the Detroit Free Press pronounced on its editorial page that the voters rejected "the siren song of the casino gambling backers. The idea that gambling would help the city renew itself is misleading and diverts attention from tackling the real problems of crime, poverty, and affordable housing."

Snake Eyes


Since Detroit's casino gambling proposition was defeated in 1976, supporters of the proposition believed that the current economic climate was favorable in 1981 because of the prolonged tailspin of the auto industry and the election of conservative Republican Ronald Reagan, who vowed to cut federal aid to cities. The budget deficit for Detroit was projected to be $135 million for the 1981 fiscal year and $147 million for 1982.

There were no easy options for Mayor Coleman Young. He recommended that the City Council consider tax hikes, deep budget cuts, across-the-board layoffs of city employees, and the sale of city-owned assets and properties. Mayor Young also renewed his request for legalization of casino gambling to generate income for the city.

This new push for casino gambling was once again sponsored in Lansing by Michigan House of Representative member Casmer Oganowski, Democrat from Detroit. To help with public relations this time was Tom Wishart from the Association for Casinos and Tourism. He was hired as a registered lobbyist. 

On the expectation that casino gambling would build tourism, increase convention business, and reduce unemployment, the proposition was supported by Detroit Police Officers' Association, the United Automobile Workers, the AFL-CIO, the airlines, taxi cab drivers, restaurateurs, hotel operators, and tourism and convention promoters. 

Proponents claimed that casino gambling could raise $50 to $75 million in taxes for the city creating 8,000 high-paying construction jobs and 25,000 hospitality and service jobs for city residents. In a rustbelt town with 13% unemployment, the prospect of creating jobs was a strong talking point for a yes vote.

Vocal opponents of the proposition were popular Michigan Governor William Milliken, Attorney General Frank Kelly, the Metropolitan United Methodist Church, the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit, and Detroit's two major newspapers. The governor and attorney general believed legalizing casino gambling would increase organized and street crime, and it would raise property taxes driving the poor and the elderly out of their homes. The city's clergymen denounced the casino gambling proposal on spiritual and moral grounds. The Detroit Free Press called the ballot proposal "An exhumation of a dead issue, and it smells."

Mayor Coleman Young

In March, Mayor Young made an appeal to a skeptical group of Black ministers to support the gambling proposal to help solve the city's problems. Young told the Council of Baptist Pastors that "The state of Michigan is the biggest gambling house operator in the nation right now. You can go into any grocery or liquor store and bet any amount of money you want on today's number, look on television to see what the winning number is that day, and be paid off tomorrow."

The pastors were not swayed by the mayor's argument. Reverend James E. Lewis, the group's spokesperson, said emphatically that his group was totally against gambling. "We are acutely aware of the economic conditions of the city. However, it is our honest conviction that casino gambling would further erode the moral, spiritual, and economic fiber of our community."

After the gathering of pastors, a reporter asked the mayor why he did not campaign more vigorously for the proposition. In what may be the most inscrutable statement Mayor Young made regarding this issue, he replied, "I'm not interested in fattening frogs for snakes." Nobody knew exactly what the mayor meant beyond expressing his frustration.

Proposition C asked: Should the City Council be able to approve a limited number of hotel casinos to be licensed and regulated under State Law with one half of the proceeds of a tax to be imposed on casinos' gross revenue and paid directly to the City of Detroit?

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press ran daily diatribes against Proposition C and daily horror stories about how casino gambling ruined Atlantic City in god-forsaken New Jersey, all the while getting paid for running Michigan Lotto numbers over the banner of their front pages. Their hypocrisy could not be denied.

On November 3, 1981, the day of the general election, Prop C was defeated for a second time by a similar 3 to 2 margin, slightly larger than in 1976. The wording of the proposal was short on specifics. Surely, casino gambling opponents in Detroit believed this was finally a dead issue.


In January 1988, Mayor Young's opening salvo to try for a third time to get Detroit voters to approve casino gambling was a press conference telling reporters, "Detroit never came out of the last recession. We need to take radical steps to preserve this city. Within days, I am going to set up a commission to study casino gambling and make a recommendation to the Detroit City Council." Political pundits were surprised the mayor would defy the two previous voter mandates against casino gambling.

In February, Mayor Young announced at City Hall that the members of the 60-plus committee ranged from top movers in corporate Detroit to little-known community activists. Former Detroit WJBK-TV Channel 2 anchor Beverly Payne was chosen by the mayor to be the commissioner in charge of administrating the $150,000, three-month study on the feasibility of casino gambling and its probable impact on Detroit.

After the press conference was concluded, Pastor John Peoples of the Calvary Baptist Church told the assorted press that "You can't ride to heaven in the devil's chariot. There is no way you can reconcile an immoral seed to produce a moral one." Reverend William Quick, pastor of the Metropolitan United Methodist Church added, "I think the issue of casino gambling is the Sword of Damocles that hangs over Coleman Young's head." 

Casino gambling supporter and committee member Patrick Meehan told the press, "To think the Almighty is foursquare against casino gambling, yet he winks at the state lottery, horse racing, and bingo, I just find very hypocritical."

When questioned by the press, Jay Berman, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Detroit said, "In traditional Roman Catholic theology, there is nothing intrinsically evil about the act of wagering. Catholics are free to make up their own minds about casino gambling in Detroit." 

The Reverend Samuel White III of Scott Memorial United Methodist Church got in the last word, "It appears that some of the clergy are hypocritically and immorally supporting Coleman Young's casino gambling proposal. One has to question our appalling silence in the face of such flagrant evils. Gambling is sinful because it fosters avarice and idolizes mammon. It can make us greedy and worship the almighty dollar. The religious community of churches needs to have moral integrity to take a prophetic stand against casino gambling."

The essential issue and the players remained the same this time around, but religious casino opponents agreed to consolidate their efforts under an umbrella committee named United Detroiters Against Gambling to rally the religious community.

Their public relations campaign began with a color poster of Roman soldiers playing dice on the robe of Jesus at the foot of the cross. The caption read, "Over the years, some very influential people have looked down on gambling." The plan was to distribute 2000 of these posters, mostly to Detroit churches.

The opposition got some unexpected support from officials representing the Detroit Race Course, Hazel Park Harness Raceway, and Northville Downs. They came out united against casino gambling because they feared it would drastically affect their business and possibly lead to racetrack closures. They contributed a large chunk of money to the anti-casino forces. In politics, an enemy of my enemy is a friend of mine.

The mayor's committee considered European-style casino gambling which is usually kept small, requires identification, registration, and an entry fee. Most European gambling spots operate only 12 to 14 hours a day, and they offer no free drinks, no free meals, and no credit. One faction supported Las Vegas-style casinos but not wide-open like Vegas, where gambling dominates the landscape and the local economy. The issues of the number, size, location, and how the tax revenues would be used needed study and discussion. 

Some socially conscious committee members wanted tightly controlled casinos discretely tucked away on the upper floors of existing hotels to bring business into the city at minimal cost. The Vegas-style casino faction won out because they favored 24/7, easy access casinos as a way to bring thousands of people into the city to create new jobs.

On June 8, 1988, forty-six casino gambling committee members voted to approve casino gambling, fifteen voted against, and three abstained. The committee was discharged of their duties. Now, the issue was in the hands of the City Council. Proposition Y was drafted and read: "If casino gambling is approved by state law, then it shall be prohibited within the city limits of Detroit and Belle Isle."

Critics of how the bill was worded noted that a yes vote is against casino gambling; a no vote is for casino gambling. The mere mention of Belle Isle was a dog whistle for opponents who were likely to vote yes. It was a red herring for supporters who needed to vote no. Because of strong opposition, the idea of using Belle Isle for a casino site  was discarded five months earlier in February by the gambling committee.

Emotions were running high on both sides. Opponents ran a media blitz of full-page newspaper ads and radio spots everyday leading up to the August 2 primary election. Three days before the election, supporters and foes went head-to-head in a chant-down at Kennedy Square in a rally staged by casino supporters but disrupted by pro-gambling demonstrators.

This exercise in democracy resembled a "Tastes Great, Less Filling" shouting match in the bleachers of Tiger Stadium. Nobody got hurt except for Attorney General Frank Kelly's ego. He was shouted off the podium.

When voting day finally arrived. Detroiters voted for the third time another 3 to 2 margin against casino gambling (61%/39%). Mayor Young's throw of the dice crapped out. After voting, the mayor was exhausted, felt weak, and had a headache. His cousin and personal physican Dr. Claud Young took Coleman's vital signs and recommended several days of rest. "The mayor's condition is not serious," Dr. Young said. "For once, he decided to do what I told him to do."

Box Cars


On March 23, 1992, the Windsor, Ontario city council voted unanimously to approve a bid for casino-style gambling to bolster its sagging economy. If approved by Ottawa, Canada's capital city, the downtown Windsor riverfront casino could draw an estimated 50 million people annually from the United States and Canada. Detroit casino gambling supporters across the Detroit River saw Windsor's potential windfall gain as Detroit's loss of income. Ottawa approved the measure to legalize casino gambling in 1993. On May, 1994, Windsor opened a temporary casino called Caesar's Windsor.

The prospect of a Canadian riverfront casino re-ignited the debate over legalizing casino gambling in Detroit. Proponents estimated that Detroit casinos could generate as much as $26 to 50 million in yearly income for the city. Although Mayor Young was still an avid supporter, his ill health became a factor. After failing in four previous attempts, Young decided to allow other people to actively promote the gambling proposition.

When the mayor was asked to comment on plans for casinos in Windsor and Chicago, he took a jab at opponents of casino gambling. "All I can say is, 'I told you so'. If Detroiters did not approve gambling, some other city would emerge as the gambling capital of the Midwest. Casino gambling could be a source of 40 to 50 thousand jobs in this city, not to mention increased tax revenue and increased tourism."

Leading the movement to legalize casino gambling in Detroit in 1993 was sixty-three-year-old, retired Detroit Water Department employee David Greenidge, coordinator of the grass roots Citizens for Casino Gambling. Greenidge wanted to do something to help the city secure new jobs and increase its tax base. "Without those," he said, "we are nothing." He and several of his friends circulated petitions and secured enough signatures to place the measure on the June 2, 1993 Special Election ballot.

The major opposition came from Detroiters Uniting for Open Government, a religious coalition led by Reverend William Quick of the Metropolitan United Methodist Church, who helped defeat the previous attempts to open the city to casino gambling. The group was confident they could once again turn out the vote.

Public opinion appeared to shift in favor of casino gambling in Detroit after the move by Windsor to establish a riverfront casino on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, reducing the stigma for some voters. Windsor hoped to open a temporary casino in the fall.

Also softening public opinion towards casino gambling was when the Detroit City Council voted to allow real estate developers Ted Gatzaros and Jim Papas to place in trust 0.7 of on acre of their own downtown property to the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribe for an Indian-run casino, pending United States Department of the Interior approval under the "sovereign nation" statute. This move took the issue out of the hands of the voters. Eight Indian casinos already operated legally on reservation property in Michigan under federal agreement.

Caesar's Windsor Casino

Political consultant to Mayor Young, Adolph Mongo, believed the voters were not as emotional this time about casino gambling because it was the fourth time on the ballot. After the blood sport of the last election, voters were weary and more complacent than ever before. Tina Lam, staff writer for the Detroit Free Press, noted "with less than three weeks left before the June 2nd vote, both sides in this quiet campaign have raised little money, generated little heat, and shown little evidence of organization."

After Proposition A went to the voters, the measure went down in defeat by a thin margin of 51% to 49%. In the three previous losses, each measure won by a two-digit margin rather than a 2 point margin. Supporters were edging closer to the victory they craved. 

The Detroit Free Press attributed the close vote to low voter turnout, weariness over the casino gambling debate, and public resignation after the Windsor, Ontario City Council announced it was building a riverfront casino. The Free Press editorial page took a last shot at casino supporters, "Casinos are what you turn to when you are bankrupt of ideas and unable to tell the difference between blackjack and an urban renewal strategy."

On September 16, 1993, the Michigan House Oversight and Ethics Committee approved a resolution to ratify the Indian gambling compact signed by Governor John Engler. The Greektown Chippawa Indian Casino was a fait accompli and out of the hands of local leaders and Detroit voters.

Greektown Casino


In 1996, for the fifth time in twenty-two years, casino gambling was on the Michigan ballot. A coalition of well-funded supporters rallied under the banner of Michigan First. Their proposal was more specific than the four proposals that came before.

Proposal E would:

  1. Permit up to three gaming casinos in any city that has a population of 800,000 or more and is within 100 miles of any state or country in which gambling is permitted, and has casino gambling approved by a majority of voters. [Detroit was the only city in Michigan that qualifed, allaying the fears of other communities across the state.]
  2. Establish a state-controlled Gaming Control Board to regulate casino gambling and keep organized crime out of casino operations.
  3. Impose an 18% state tax on gross gambling revenues. [In Vegas, this is called "skimming off the top." In this instance, the process is public and above board.]
  4. Allocate 55% of tax revenue on gross gambling revenues to the host city for crime prevention and economic development.
  5. Allocate 45% of tax revenue to the state for public education.

Michigan First projected that construction of three casino complexes would cost $1.8 billion, creating 11,000 permanent jobs and requiring tens of millions of dollars in locally-sourced goods and services each year. The pro-gambling group ran television and radio spots which focused on how well Caesar's Windsor Casino and the Northern Belle Casino, a paddle-wheel boat docked within walking distance from Caesar's, were doing raking in Michigan dollars.

After the first year of Windsor's casino operations, an Ontario provincial government-sponsored study showed:

  • The six downtown hotels with a total of 1,171 rooms showed an increase in business from an average of 500 rooms rented to around 900 rented a day.
  • Visiting gamblers, mostly from Detroit and its suburbs, spend $29 million on local Windsor businesses.
  • Forty-five percent of Casino patrons ate in Windsor restaurants.

A boatload of money was floating around the Michigan airwaves. A WXYZ-TV advertising executive said they were selling twice as many ads than they had in the 1992 campaign. The WXYZ-TV morning news hour ran no fewer than eighteen political ads. 

Reverend Calvin Zastrow, a thirty-seven-year-old Assemby of God minister who lived in Midland, Michigan, actively worked against the casino proposition. The motivated anti-gambling activists were affiliated with churches that viewed gambling as inherently immoral and unethical. Zastrow's mantra was that gambling creates "Neighbors robbing neighbors, husband's beating wives, entrepreneurs declaring bankrupcy, lives being ruined, and souls being lost."

Casino spokesperson Roger Martin called Reverend Zastrow's repeal movement "a small coalition armed with half-truths and scare tactics supported by right-wing extremists from other states that declared war on Michigan voters and 15,000 jobs in Detroit.

Detroiters Uniting for Open Government centered their efforts on the greater Detroit religious community and through extensive advertising on radio, Black radio stations in particular. The governor and the attorney general were still lobbying against casino gambling in the state of Michigan.

Both major Detroit newspapers still ran endless diatribes against gambling, all the while earning revenue from running the State Lottery numbers in their papers and running ads for Vegas get-aways, Windsor gambing weekends, and cruise ship tours with casino gambling featured. The Detroit News and the Free Press benefited financially from the gambling advertising, yet they used every fear tactic they could to defeat Proposition E.

The anti-casino gambling proposal ran out of time and money. It fell short of the 247,000 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. Now in favor of the casino proposition, Mayor Dennis Archer flipped his opposition when he realized that license fees alone could top $100 million yearly from each of the three casinos. That kind of money could pay for a lot of city services that the city could not otherwise afford. 

Turnout in Detroit for the November 2, 1996 statewide election was stronger than expected due to a bear hunting proposal and a measure to approve the Foxtown Stadium Complex, a dual stadium project (Ford Field and Comerica Park) downtown. Also there was something about the Windsor casinos vacuuming up $1 million a day of Michigan money that did not sit well with Michigan voters.

Finally, after twenty-two years of struggle, five gambling propositions, and untold millions of hours and dollars, Proposition E won by 59% to 42% in Detroit, a 17 point victory. The statistics further revealed that Wayne County voted 79% to 21%, a whopping 58 point margin. The three casinos granted licenses were the MGM Grand Casino, Motorcity Casino, and the Greektown-Chippawa Indian Casino. By the turn of the millenium, all three casinos were operational and earning income for the city of Detroit.


Detroit's Early Numbers Racket 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Popeye and His Pals Captain Jolly and Poopdeck Paul

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm strong to the "finich"
'cause I eats me spinach
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man"

Popeye was the creation of E.C. Segar. The "one-eyed runt" debuted as a minor character in an early comic strip entitled Thimble Theater on December 19, 1919. When Popeye became popular, the comic strip was retitled Popeye. Syndication rights were sold to King Features Syndicate, which debuted the Popeye strip on January 17, 1929, introducing the character to a national audience.

In 1933, the Fleischer Brothers--Max and Dave--adapted the newspaper comic strip character into cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures. All but three of their cartoons were six to eight minute, one-reelers filmed in black and white. Their three masterpieces were twenty minute, two-reelers filmed in Technicolor: Popeye Meets Sinbad (sic) in 1936, Popeye Meets Ali Baba (sic) in 1937, and Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp in 1939.

The cartoon Popeye muttered and mangled the English language much to the annoyance of English teachers everywhere. He was odd-looking and unsophisticated, but he had a heart of gold with compassion for the underdog. Popeye was brave, chivalrous, and loyal. His pipe could be used as a steam whistle for his trademark "toot-toot." He displayed his ingenuity using his pipe for a cutting torch, a jet engine, a propeller, and a periscope.

The not so secret source of Popeye's great strength was spinach. The spinach-growing community of Crystal, Texas, erected a statue of Popeye in recognition of his positive effects on the spinach industry as a great source of "strenkth and vitaliky."

Several key characters in the Popeye cartoons were based on real people from Chester, Illinois, who made an impression on animator E.C. Segar when he worked there as a reporter. Popeye was based on Frank "Rocky" Fiegel, who in real life had a prominent chin, sinewy physique, a pipe, and a history of fist-fighting in the local travern.

The inspiration for Olive Oyl was Dora Paskel, an uncommonly tall, lanky lady with a washboard figure who wore her hair in a tight bun close to her neckline. She ran the general store.

The Wimpy character was modeled after a rotund, local opera house owner named Wiebusch, who regularly sent his stagehand to buy hamburgers for him between performances.

The Chester, Illinois Chamber of Commerce built a Popeye character trail through their town in honor of E.C. Segar and his creations. Statues of many of the series characters adorn their city streets.

Paramount Pictures sold their Popeye cartoon television rights and their interests in the Popeye brand to Associated Artists Productions (AAP) in1955. AAP churned out 220 new cartoons in the next two years to round out their cartoon package. These made-for-TV cartoons were streamlined and simplified for smaller TV budgets. In short, they were cheaply made. 

In 1957, CKLW-TV (Channel 9) in Windsor, Ontario purchased the broadcast rights from AAP for 234 Popeye cartoons. The station hired Toby David in 1958 to portray Captain Jolly as the weekday program host. The Captain spoke English with a bad German accent and referred to the kids in his audience as his "Chip Mates." He wore a captain's hat cockeyed on his head, a striped tee-shirt, eyeglasses down his nose, and a signature chin strap beard. The show aired weekdays and weekends from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm sponsored by Vernor's Ginger Ale.

In character, Captain Jolly was a frequent visitor of hospitalized children at Children's Hospital in Windsor, Ontario, and he did charity work throughout the Detroit area as well. Toby David often volunteered his time for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital--his favorite charity.

The weekend hosting chores were handled by Captain Jolly's first mate Poopdeck Paul portrayed by CKLW-TV weatherman Paul Allan Schultz. Poopdeck Paul wore a dark sweater with sleeves rolled up to reveal fake mariners tattoos on his forearms. He wore a canvas sailor's cap confidently tilted on his head.

Schultz's son Bill recalls, "The name Poopdeck Paul came pretty much out of nowhere. Ten minutes before the weekend show went on the air, the program director asked, 'What are you going to call yourself?' My dad thought for a couple of minutes and came up with the name."

That story may be true, but it is also true that Popeye's long-lost father who deserted him on Goon Island was named Poopdeck Pappy. Perhaps the name surfaced in Schultz's subconscious mind.

Captain Jolly used hand puppets for his show which was common for kid's shows of that era. Schultz's weekend show was hipper than Captain Jolly's weekday show. Poopdeck Paul appealed to the older kids in the audience. When the Limbo became a popular dance in 1961, Poopdeck held Limbo contests with his studio audience. When the Beatles' popularity broke across the nation in February 1964, he had kids with mop-top haircuts lip synch Beatles songs live on the air.

When the weather permitted, Poopdeck Paul occasionally did his show on the front lawn outside the CKLW studios. He would conduct go-cart races, miniature golf contests, Hula-Hoop competitions, Frisbee tosses, and relay races with teams made up from his studio audience. Both Popeye co-hosts were popular with kids on both sides of the Detroit River.

CKLW-TV cancelled Popeye and His Pals in December of 1964 after seven seasons, due to programming changes. Toby David took it pretty hard. He continued to work around Detroit doing media work and serving on the board of directors for several non-profit organizations assisting with fund-raising.

In 1971, Mr. David had it with winter in Detroit and retired to Scottsdale, Arizona. For a time, he sold real estate and was a tour guide on the side, but he never lost his desire to entertain. On September 14, 1994 while performing for senior citizens at a Mesa, Arizona senior center, Toby David died from a heart attack at the age of eighty. He was survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.

Paul Allan Schultz soured on show business after Popeye and His Pals was cancelled. He became a salesman for many years and had a couple of brushes with the law. For a time he lived in the Netherlands and Thailand. Schultz spent the last six months of his life in Leamington, Ontario, on the Canadian shores of Lake Erie. He died on September 19, 2000 at the age of seventy-five.

As per Schultze's final request, no funeral or burial service was held. His ashes were scattered in an undisclosed Canadian location. Schultz was survived by two daughters and a son. A second son, Bruce, preceeded his father in death. Schultz's daughter Diane told a Windsor Star reporter upon the passing of her father, "He taught us kids never be a spectator; always be a player."

Max Fleischer's Betty Boop Character 

Detroit/Windsor Sock-Hop Jock Robin Seymour 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Detroit's Ghost Town Delray and O-So Memories

O-So pop was a local Detroit soft drink sensation bottled in Delray at 8559-61 W. Jefferson Ave. Not as famous as Vernor's Ginger Ale but just as beloved. John Kar's bottling works opened in 1922, located north of the Peerless Cement factory and just south of the old Delray Bridge onto Zug Island, also known as the "one way bridge" no longer in use.

Adults from the Baby Boomer generation remember that O-So was the bargain pop of our day. The clear-glass bottled soft drinks were colorful and the flavors were fabulous. Linda J. Kulczyk remembers watching the mechanized bottle filler in action. "The place smelled like bleach and sugar water. Rock and Rye was my favorite flavor," she wrote on the Old Delray facebook site.

Other popular flavors were creme soda, lemon-lime, cherry, grape, strawberry, root beer, and orange. I don't believe they had a cola drink, though I could be wrong about that.

John A. Stavola, Jr. remembers "as a kid, they bottled the soda right there and the dude (perhaps Ed Kar, son of the founder) used to fish right out of the back window of the place." Diana Bors McPeck used to work there when she was young. Her grandparents were friends with the owners. Diana recalls, "I was paid in pop!"

One of the old timers working the same shift as me at the Zug Island coke ovens was nicknamed 'Pop'. He would buy several cases of assorted flavors of O-So pop every day in the spring and summer and roll them in from the parking lot on a hand truck (dolly) with a cooler full of ice. Pop sold the stuff for a dollar a bottle, a 400% markup. He also sold salted peanuts in the summer and fresh roasted chestnuts in the winter. On a hot day, everyone was glad to hear him call out "COLD POP." He was a door machine operator on the receiving end of the ramming machine. For the life of me, I can't remember his real name. Everybody just called him Pop.

When I worked as a laborer at Zug Island in 1967, the Delray downtown area already showed signs of two decades of neglect. Many of the shops and second story residences became little more than tenements for transient workers. After the Detroit Riots in July, the writing was on the wall for Delray. Like many other Detroit neighborhoods, White flight went into hyper-drive.

It is always sad to see an established community fall into ruin and abandonment. But almost one hundred years of history and heavy industry had taken its toll on the Delray neighborhood and turned it into what it is today, a virtual ghost town within the Detroit city limits. 

Delray lost its ethnic heart and soul in the sixties and seventies. What was once a vibrant European mixture of Hungarian, Slovakian, and Polish immigrants dispersed among the Detroit suburbs, notably the Downriver areas of Allen Park, Lincoln Park, and Wyandotte.

Now, all that's left of the Delray neighborhood are mostly memories and photographs fading in family albums. Remember any of these places? First Slovak Church (Holy Redeemer), St. John's Catholic Church, The Hungarian Village Bakery, Hevesi Cafe (with dining and dancing), Joey's Stables, Fox Hardware, Szabo's Meat Market, Delray Baking Company, Al's Bar, Kovac's Bar, and King's Chinese Restaurant. They are gone but not forgotten.

Realistically, Delray is zoned for heavy industry and will never recover as a viable residential area. But I could be wrong. What impact the new international transport bridge will have on Delray is yet to be known or felt. One thing is for certain, the area is ripe for some sort of redevelopment.

For more detailed information on the community of Delray, check out this link:,_Detroit

Monday, January 1, 2024

Beverly Payne--WJBK-TV Channel 2 Trendsetter

Beverly Payne Eyewitness News Publicity Photo
Beverly Payne was not a native Detroiter, but fate brought her to Detroit. She was raised in San Francisco and went to college there earning English and foreign language (French and Spanish) degrees. In 1968, she and her husband Harry R. Payne, an executive director of an international arbitration association, moved to Japan for his job.

In Japan, the Paynes hired a housekeeper. Soon boredom set in for Mrs Payne, so she began to study Japanese and picked up enough to teach Japanese businessmen how to speak and pronounce English properly. This led to Payne being interviewed on Japanese TV, which in turn, led to a job teaching English classes on her own educational TV program. After three years in Japan, the Payne family moved back to the United States, so Harry R. Payne could take a job in Detroit.

Not long after the family moved to the area, a friend suggested that Beverly (26) audition to co-host a new program at WJBK-TV Channel 2 in Detroit named Focus: Detroit. It was a public-affairs program that discussed issues important to Detroit's minority community, a largely ignored and underserved television demographic. 

Payne was hired to begin on July 1, 1973 and teamed with experienced Channel 2 newsman Woody Willis for the Sunday morning program. Management wanted to see how she performed in the ratings rankings. Her numbers were positive.

In a move to capture a larger share of the housewife 18-to-49-year-old television audience, coveted by advertisers because they spend most of the household income, Channel 2 quickly promoted Payne to co-anchor the station's new 7 to 8 morning newscast and the noon news with Channel 2 veteran Vic Caputo.

Two years later, Beverly Payne was moved to the 6 pm newscast with Joe Glover, making her the first African American woman to co-anchor a prime time broadcast and gain celebrity status in Detroit. At the time, she was only one of four Black women in the country to co-anchor a daily, prime time newscast.

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Although Payne's meteoric rise appears to be seamless, she had a difficult hurdle to overcome. Detroit Free Press TV critic Bettelou Peterson explained in her column, "The housewife 18-to-49 demographic that Channel 2 wants to attract is also the most critical of women on the air.... Let a woman come across as aggressive and women resent her as do some men. Let a woman on the air seem too intelligent and she is disliked. But worst of all, let her look sexy, and she is unwelcome in the family living room where the housewife watches with her husband. Beverly Payne passes all the tests of being acceptable to men and women viewers. She projects an image of sincerity, trustworthiness, friendliness, and attractiveness."

Simply put, Payne was non-threatening to the Detroit viewing audience. Women began writing Channel 2 saying they watched solely to see what Beverly Payne was wearing. In response to that, Payne admitted in a fluff Detroit Free Press feature article that she spends "an inordinate amount of money on her wardrobe. I like simple clothes and designer clothes. I wear Halston and Geoffry Beene a lot. I see buying clothes and looking nice as part of my job."

When asked in the same interview if she found television glamorous, Payne candidly admitted, "The only time I feel glamorous is when I go to the bank.... People think television is glamorous, but there is incredible tension. We come across cool, but believe me, there is nothing glamorous about doing a live news show."

With television news celebrity comes great responsibility. News anchors are required to make personal appearances, host charity auctions, attend community service group events, and accept awards, that is, in addition to working their scheduled assignments. More often than not, the celebrity's personal life suffers.

Television news is a goldfish bowl inside a pressure-cooker. It requires its on-air talent to lead a somewhat schizophrenic life. Coming into people's homes everynight exacts a personal price. People feel like they know you which entitles them to violate the celebrity's privacy. Everywhere they go and everything they do in public is fair game for newspaper columnists. So even in their most private moments, celebrities have to be guarded with their behavior. Especially so for women.

The demands of celebrity must have weighed heavily upon Payne's domestic life, though she insisted "(her) chosen career was not responsible for the breakup" of her marriage. She and her husband Harry Payne Jr. divorced in mid-March of 1976 after twelve years of marriage. Beverly retained custody of their three sons Harry Payne III (10), Mark (8), and David (6).

In the year since Joe Glover was teamed with Beverly Payne, Channel 2's market research found they were reaching younger viewers without turning away their core audience. This news teaming had a calming on-camera chemistry.

In a business where your career hangs in the balance with every ratings report and the cold calculus of the station's earnings, Glover and Payne competed favorably for market share against Channel 4 in the ratings race, while Channel 7 remained far and away the ratings leader.

Beverly Payne being interviewed behind the scenes.

All seemed fine until June 15, 1977, when Beverly Payne abruptly quit her $80,000/year job in protest over a live phone interview with the head of the Nazi movement in America. She was nursing a cold at home watching Channel 2 news when she saw her co-anchor Joe Glover allow a hate-filled rant against Jews, Blacks, and immigrants go unquestioned.

The 90-second interview with the national coordinator of the National Socialist White People's Party of America was allowed "to spew his hate over the TV2 airwaves without any balance." Payne criticized her colleague for not asking any probing questions and for the station not having booked a spokesperson from an opposing group for rebuttal. "I may have washed my career down the drain," Payne said in an interview, "but I have my integrity and my dignity."

Station manager Bob McBride refused to issue a public apology over the incident but also refused to accept Payne's resignation. The station continued to honor Ms. Payne's contract which had two years left to run. The station gave Payne a temporary leave of absence to allow Glover and Payne to soothe their egos.

Bob McBride

Payne's fans stood solidly behind her, and they made it known to the station. Two weeks after her protest against WJBK, Payne returned to the Eyewitness News desk to co-anchor with Robbie Timmons while Joe Glover was on temporary assignment elsewhere. Station manager Bob McBride opened the Wednesday night broadcast apologizing to the audience for the offensive interview.

In September of 1979, Ms. Payne's agent negotiated a three-year contract with a substantial salary increase from $80,000 per year to $120,000. WJBK-TV management, not known for their generosity, realized Payne was too important to the station and its image. They did not want to take a chance on losing her to WXYZ-TV Channel 7, which had poached several of their top ratings earners in recent years like John Kelly, Marilyn Turner, and Al Ackerman.

Beverly Payne was the Channel 2 golden girl until November of 1979 when she was one of several journalists invited to a briefing session at the White House with cabinet members and President Carter. Channel 2's conservative management refused to let her attend calling the invitation "public relations puffery."

The decision was typical of WJBK management's failure to capitalize on an opportunity that would enhance Payne and the station's local stature. When she complained that if her co-anchor Joe Glover had received the invitation, the station would have sent him with an expense account. Her statement reopened old wounds. Management began to see Payne as a "troublemaker."

In November of 1980, the station sent Payne on a two-week charity mission to help feed starving Somalian children in Africa. She was able to raise $40,000 from Detroit viewers for the project. Her mission of mercy was filmed by a camera crew and later compiled into a WJBK-TV feature story. When Payne returned home, she was hospitalized at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital for dehydration and exhaustion. Her doctor ordered three weeks of rest.

When she returned to work, Payne announced her engagement to Guy Draper, a former chief of protocol in the Carter administration. The couple met at the Democratic National Convention in New York City. They wed on June 20, 1981, in Washington D.C. at St. Albans Church on the grounds of the National Cathedral. The bride wore a street-length, eggshell-colored lace gown. The reception was held at the Shoreham Hotel. 

Beverly Payne and Guy Draper

Payne decided to use her husband's surname on the air beginning July 6, 1981. WJBK management was bewildered and miffed after all the years and money they spent promoting Beverly Payne to their Detroit audience. Payne insisted on using her married name--Beverly Payne Draper. She continued to work at the anchor desk until December 1982 when WJBK-TV suspended her without pay for an unspecified reason. Rather than buckle under, she resigned her position after nine years with the station.

In 1985, Payne launched a new career as a consultant and official spokesperson for the Michigan Commerce Department. Two years later in March 1987, after six years of marriage to Andrew Gay Draper, Beverly divorced him and dropped his name from hers. The reason was once again held private.

In an unexpected turn of events, Detroit Mayor Coleman Young nominated Beverly Payne in February 1978 to serve as administrator of the Casino Gambling Commission and its $150,000 budget. The 35 person committee was charged with studying and drafting a recommendation whether Detroit should allow gambling casinos within the city limits. A proposal was written which the voters rejected in a special election.

Glad to be free from her gambling commission duties, Ms. Payne began a consulting firm for small businesses named Beverly Payne & Associates in June 1988. A year and a half later, Ms. Payne announced her engagement to Michigan Senator Morris Hood (D-Detroit). In no apparent hurry to tie the knot, they were married twenty months later in a private, civil ceremony performed by Recorder's Court Judge Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford.

At some point, Beverly Payne moved back to her hometown of San Francisco to be close to family. She passed away at home on November 12, 1999, of complications from cervical cancer at the age of fifty-four. At Ms. Payne's request, there was no memorial service. She left behind three grown sons, five grandkids, two sisters, one brother, and her mother Virginia Wroten.

Beverly Payne's contribution to Detroit television history is that her success opened doors for other women and minorities at news desks across the city: women like Diana Lewis, Doris Biscoe, Robbie Timmons, Kathy Adams, Linda Wright-Avery, Carmen Harlan, Kai Maxwell, and Terry Murphy.

"These women were transformed by the power of television. Deserved or not, a certain glamor and credibility is attached to these golden beings whose fate it is to be on-camera. It is magical!" wrote Detroit Free Press reporter Donna Britt.

Diana Lewis--WXYZ-TV's Grande Dame