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April 09, 1968 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-04-09
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Page Four

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

Tuesday, April 9, 1968.

Tuesday, April 9, 1968

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

"Bay City has no race pol .
No hinghasgevergotten out of hand"

By HOWARD KOHN
Bob McDaniels was the first Negro
elected president of Bay City Central
High School's student council.
. Flashing his bright smile, McDaniels
won over Central's largely white student
body. "He was the happiest-looking .per-
son in the world," recalled Ellen Kist,
one of his classmates in 1962-1963.
"You couldn't help but like him."-
As drum major of the band, McDan-
lels was a key figure at pep rall-ies. And
in the era of the Four Seasons and the
Beachboys, -he was a popular man at
dances.
"He was a swinger. He was a guy
with real rhythm . . . a natural musi-
cian," said Fred Smith, student council
vice-president with McDaniels.
McDaniels' election surprised many of
Bay City's residents. "I'd never really
thought about a colored boy becoming
president; I sort of wondered who he
was when I heard about it," remem-
bered Mrs. W. G. Wacker, whose two
daughters attended Central.
"But I'm sure that no mother really
minded. I mean, he always looked like
a good boy," she added.
McDaniels' picture appeared in the
Bay City Times, the only daily newspaper
in town, as he won repeated honors in
music and took part in several activi-
ties during his four years in high school.
He marched sprightly in the phalanx
of All-American boys.
A local Negro's nicture seldom runs in
the Times. In a city of 55.000, there are
lpcs than 1.000 Negroes. Few receive even
token recognition. Bay City is predom-
ingntly white middle-class with strong
German and Polish birthmarks.
An unaspiring city in Northeastern
Michigan, 100 miles north of Detroit,
Bay City reached a tenuous pinnacle of
40,000 souls at the height of Michigan's
lumber boom in the 1880's. Since then,
its population has increased at a rate
of less than 200 a year.
Although it is the main port city on
the Saginaw River, it has remained vir-
tually landlocked for decades, smaller
in population and industry than sister
city Saginaw upriver. Until the St. Law-
rence Seaway freight lines reached Bay
City at the start of the decade, Bay
City's shipping tonnage was minimal.

double or quad rooms, however:The main-
area of the ward was a large dayroom,
half of which was divided by partitions
out from the walls into sleeping cubicles,
with two beds and dressers in each. I
learned later that the private rooms were
saved -for girls who had shown progress
or were not in need of special supervision.
My immediate assignment to a private
room was not as luxurious as might
seem, however, since the rooms were kept
locked during the day. This was done'
for two reasons. It would not be fair to
allow the girls with private rooms to
lie down during the day, when this was,
forbidden to everyone else. And more
important, the rooms were locked to pre-
vent recurrence of an attempted escape
last year in which two girls broke their
room window.
Being locked out of one's room is notr
such an unpleasant experience. Similarly,
safety measures which p>rohibited doors
on the toilet stalls seemed only to en-
courage-a jovial exchange of vulgarities
and made the bathroom a main center
of social contact. -
Step One also included familiarizing
oneself with the centers of ward ac-
tivity. There were three: the nursing
station, which offered the girls oppor-
tunities for contact with non-patients,
and was the complaint center and dis-
tributor of medication and information
as well; the 'TV and record player room
at the end of the main hall; and the
central, glassed-in dayroom adjacent to
the sleeping partitions.
This dayroom "was a warm, drowsy
place. Yellow sunlight filtered in the
windows on three sides, and in it time
passed slowly. A large portion of each
day was devoted to waiting: waiting for
meals, waiting for therapy, waiting for
a music lesson - waiting for the day
when Northville would be only a memory.
It w'As in the dayroom that camara-
derie between patients was most felt, the
real purpose of Step One most demon-
strated. In psychological terms, the day-
room provided an area for prolonged
contact with a peer group, and this
served two important functions. The
group would inform the patient about
"the system" and the ways of gaining
privileges and skirting regulations - an

important way of reserving for the pa-
tient some vestige of personal autonomy.
Also, this situation fostered a sense of
belonging to a group, a special group
that shares problems and can offer sup-
port and understanding..
In the dayroom that afternoon I had
my first glimpse of the special courage
exhibited by these young adults. As a
new girl I underwent a probing con-
,cerning my particular disorder. Was I
here on my own initiative? Had I been
in any other psychiatric hospital? Was
I suicidal? Having expected' a strong
taboo on such topics, I was even more
surprised to hear these same girls dis-
cussing with amazing candor their own
problems of breakdowns. intense feelings-
of inferiority, inability to cope with
stresses.
Thus freed to ask questions myself, I
learned much about the daily task which
faced the inhabitants of B1-2. The im-
mensity of their task consisted not only
of rebuilding themselves, but also of
- coming to believe that the outside world
is worth regaining. For many of the pa-
tients in the young adult unit, the outer
world evokes bitter memories.
A profile of the Young Adult Unit
taken last year after its first six months
of operation showed that. 70 per cent
come from broken families, 60 per cent
were termed "lower class," meaning
largely inner-city residents.
But it is most meaningful to translate
these statistics into descriptions of some
Northville patients. Several girls on the
ward had known a version of the world
that could provide little incentive for
return. Their experiences in urban
ghettos had exposed them to- promiscu-
ity, drug addiction, indifferent parents
and simple poverty itself.
In addition, there is always fear of
rejection by the newly-won world. One
upper middle-class girl returned to her
neighborhood from a stay at Northville
only to encounter the subtle withdrawal
of people avoiding contact with a person
once mentally ill. She returned to North-
vile for more treatment.
Amazingly, however, the patients' re-
action to such rejection is a compassion-
ate mixture of sympathy and humor.
There is much joking about meeting

Y c.
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Driving west up the gentle slope of Seven Mile
Northville State Hospital looms without warmth acr
of weeds and broken glass.
That Northville rises so uncompromisingly over
help to banish one's feeling that all those old horr
hospitals are only too true.
Low-lying, flat-roofed buildings obediently clust
tower-like building..No mliving or man-made thing is
radius. The signs are that unmentionable experienc(
Even if after a peek inside the main lobby, one
ist's desk, lounge chairs, magazines and wall-plaques
were comfortingly like the trappings of any large hosi
dispel the uneasy feeling that just behind any door
could be found a cruel tyranny over the mad and de
But if -one walked down the main, well-lighted
at the end of the hall, continued through a glassed
glass doors with-the letters "C Building" over them,
more left turn past several small offices to find hin
nocuous door.
Windowless, and with the stencil "B1-2" in blacl
small, confined society of 30 twentieth century girl
17 and 21, who lived in a mental hospital not repre
archetypes of one's morbid imagination.

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-Dick Van Nostrand

The General Motors Chevrolet plant,
the largest employer in the city today,
expanded from a smalltime small parts
supplier to a major industry only five
years ago.
For the most part, though, downtown
businessmen effectively strangled the
advance of assembly-line industry and
still hold a tight grip today.
The McDaniels family came to Bay
City in 1940 as the Depression was re-
ceding.
"Bay City didn't- want anybody new
because it was hard enough to make a
buck the way it was," admitted W. R.
Knepp, a department store pioneer who
now owns a million-dollar business. "We
hired the type of person we wanted in
the community."
Downtown Bay City still remains the
center of commerce-. Many residents
commute to Saginaw and Midland where
larger industries have located.
But today, a second and third gener-
ation of Bay City pioneers does not sup-

What's good in Bay City
port suggestion that bigger and better
industries be lured to their town. For
example, five years ago, when the Ford
Motor Co. considered building in Bay
City five years ago, there were more
negative than positive voices raised.
"I have a lot of pride in this city. It's a
nice place to raise a family. I'm satis-
fied," says Charles Ford, whose father
founded a clothing store. Ford is now
secretary-treasurer and expects to in-
herit the business.
McDaniels did little of his shopping
at Ford Clothiers. He lived with his
mother, a widow, under less than well-
to-do conditions.
But he was able to start college in
the fall of 1963 at Central Michigan
University. As he grappled with a num-
ber of career choices, he switched his
major from music to English to so-
ciology.
"Even being in college created some
sort of illusion. I didn't have to make as
many compromises with myself to be
accepted," McDaniels said.
In his sophomore year he married a
pretty honey-blonde named Loretta, a
white girl. When his son Robert was

Another Bay City

OEO is the main federal agency in
Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. It is
organized at the local level, although
money and guidelines come from Wash-
ington. Among its goals are retraining of
unemployed- poor and tutoring disadvan-
taged children who seem destined to fu-
ture poverty.
"I felt that your hometown ought to
be the best place to start helping. Be-
sides, I'd always been accepted in Bay
City," McDaniels explained.
But McDaniels found antipathy and
skepticism from many Bay City resi-
dents.
"We don't have any crime or race
problems, and I don't think we- have
many poverty cases," noted Ivan String-
er, Central High counselor.
"Nothing has ever gotten out of hand,"
commented Ben Boutell Sr., director of
Ben Boutell & Sons Enterprises - a
rental and investment agency.
"Big metropolitan cities have made
their own bed and they're going to have
to lie in it. The Negroes here aren't
complaining," he continued.
Bay.City was one of the few-Michigan
cities of 50,000-plus not hit or even
threatened by rioting in the wake of De-
troit's outbreak last summer,
"We've worked hard to make this a
decent place to live," said Joe Hirsch-
field, a scrap-metal industrialist- who
began as a driver of horse-drawn wagons.
But Bay City's First Ward belies the
mask of decency. Cluttered with old
homes reeking filth and despair, it
houses nearly -every Negro in the city.
McDaniels' OEO office is only a few
blocks from the heart of the ghetto
microcosm.
"Nobody likes to admit it, but it is a
slum," says Negro lawyer James Baker,
who lives outside the ghetto. "There are
places there that everyone refuses to be-
lieve exist . . . vermin under the dinner
table . .
Baker is one of the most prominent
Negroes in Bay City, -usually, the only
one in the city's high-status organiza-
tions. He has been one of the few Ne-
groes active in the Bay City chapter of
the NAACP.
But he admitted that he confines most
of his civil rights fighting to telling serv-
ice clubs that one Jewish member does
not constitute integration.
One of the few civil rights radicals in
Bay City was the Rev. Theodore LaMarr,
priest of Visitation parish, an all-white
congregation. As a member of the Hu-

what is
NE WPOLITICS?
Electoral activity to provide a vehicle
for dissent and discussion
and a context for
community
ORGANIZING
at the
grass roots level
toward the elimination of racism
and poverty, imperialism and the draft;
toward better schools and a revitalized labor movement.
.. We can make it on the '68 ballot with a little
HE LP from our friends:. ..
1) meet at our office, 109 Miller, Saturdays at 10:30 and
Sundays at 11:30 A.M.
2) call 761-0059 for rides and weekday or evening petitioning
3) if you have signatures please mail them or turn them in at
109 Miller as soon as possible and pick up blank petitions

i r iri. rir ww u i

people who expected them to "act crazy".
A standard joke in the ward is to say
to someone, with sarcastic irony, "What's.
the matter, you crazy or something?"
Couched in its lightness, this was the
crucial question. It hung in the air when
we stood in line at meal times waiting
quietly for the nurse to unlock the door
and lead us down the hall to the cafe-
teria. It flew into everyone's mind the
morning the jolly fat girl on the ward
suddenly exploded and threw a pail of
soapy water on the floor during her
ward duty and was put in "seclusion" for
an hour.
While I was in Northville, I felt that
this crucial question - "Am I crazy or
something" - is answered in part out-
side the institution.. Society makes de-
mands on those who beg its acceptance,
and many whose life styles aren't cap-
able of meeting those demands are re-
jected. One girl at Northville exhibited
feelings of extreme persecution, some-
thing she may have derived from early
childhood. Above all she felt that re-
jection was the only treatment she could
ever expect from society.
What concrete help does the "team
treatment" method at Northville give
to the patient who fears reality? How
does it help him re-structure his mental
world? This is manifest in Step Two in
the treatment process.
Here the patient's daily activity is
scheduled with an array of supervised
activities and therapies to suit his indi-
vidual needs. These include ward work,
which must be completed after break-
fast by each person before he can go to

any other c
include an h
or psychiatri
noon of rec
basketball, a
There is a
cil which i
projects. It
and incident
ward may us
The Targe
collection of
news contril:
by a patient
ward a day
capable of "t
"Total fu
phrase. The
a scale deri
possibilities
bilities. How
society that
alities, or en
black -and w
When a r
to its pati
exist, it giv
education th
schools. The
ciety, tend
giving the il
reality is th
is available I
leads to fru
Northville.
Dr. Gokna
to understar
says that it
need to be ti

Zen -Tarot-Alchem
Parapsychology -
Theosophy -Palmistry

m-_

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