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BMX Racer, Auto Gypsy and the American Dream


Listening to Arthur Bush this is Radio Free Flint. Today's episode includes an interview with Dennis. Jabre who's AJ BMX racer as well as volunteer for the Jesse County Parks Commission. More importantly he discusses his work with General Motors his life as an auto gypsy. I think you'll enjoy what he has to say. And like to remind you. If you like this episode please light or subscribe at your favorite podcast. App Feud Liking. Leave a message here on anchor dot com or leave a voicemail for me. We'd like to hear from you. Thank you Okay here we are again. This is Radio Free Flint. Arthur Bush your host Dennis Aveiro Flint. Who's telling us all about? Bmx bicycling in the genesee. County Park System. Dennis you were saying that. The popularity of the next bite now has tended to go down. But you're still looking for more riders to compete out there in the in the comedy park. Yeah that's that's true Big Little Bit of the reason that The writers ships Rendel was the economics of the area. It was pretty start for quite some time. And people have their priorities in to eat till rather than come out and pay to raise started taking care of their business but Dennis your your efforts at BMX biking. What would it cost? I mean just from your experiences. What would it cost for somebody to get into BMX riding? That's just a beginner just a they. Don't have a bike we have. We have a reynolds. They want to just try it out the first timers and screen and just signed a waiver in after that they have an aptitude to buy a license to compete wanted thirty day trial upgrade to an annual license or they can just jump in the fire and an annual license. What's that Thirty Day licenses? Thirty Bucks Full membership is sixty long that After that initial license fee. It's in dollars each time. They come out and raise Usually out there for like two three hours practices pre dated. They race usually start around. Warn people start showing up around ten and writing the track about that time okay? So what's it cost for the bike itself? If somebody wanted to get into the sport bike itself cost? You can depend on how you to buy one by used bike where like parents and kids don't loan no interest in one hundred fifty dollars or if if you've got deep pockets you can by late. Two thousand dollars just hedonist. I'm here picking up some noisier on the other side near side there from the speaker so could make sure that you're not touching the computer the table or something. It's probably what I'm doing. It'll be less distracting so dennis you've gotten into this a BMX bike Thing and trail bike riding is still popular in Michigan. As you go up and down I seventy side. You see lots of people riding bicycles these days and The state parks have places to Rhino over at the rifle river recreationally. There's a very complex trail for B Max. A tight riding. It's not racing but it's what we call guests trail riding right. Looney call that. There's a vernacular that to us Some called Mountain biking downhill. That's it yes I got you so so at the Flint facility there or the county facility that is run by the county parks and Recreation Commission wrecked. The land is owned by the county parks and recreation of the volunteers. Actually run the phobia in the you have a board of directors. Yes there is Right now their spines are you the president of the board Detract operator I oversee the president. is Austin Kelly. He's autumn appear vice-president is already Bertha Burton and so they've taken on this responsibility to bring some order to the trail so to speak right. They there's not a park ranger standing out there. Supervising you know they drive in and out and you know if we call them because there might be injury unattractive bronze really well. We don't have that many injuries. That are serious. Young usual scrapes and road rationed by call it Jacob a fall on the track. The Rangers aren't around the around enjoy and watch once in a while. The races most part the only time the really do anything off. The track is if they're motorcycle or motorized vehicle on the track that you're not supposed to be here Dennis your your activities out there there. Then make a lotta noise or costs neighbors any issues now while we have announcing system that we use during the recent but it's not so long up their own like a concert. They know win when I was a county parks. Commissioner Genesee County Parks Commissioner. Way Back when this started we had some concern by the neighbors is a leading understand it. since then it's IT's maintained. Its popularity out there and it's been a good part of the offering to the park system. Now you've got interested in it and started racing yourself. It went from your granddaughter. Your are you my eldest? At the time she was serving watched race for for a couple years Turner having all the funds. I got interim and he'd lose no way too intense. I thought it was a good way to. They say killed two birds at warm stone. Did she beat you? Most of the time yeah. She kicked my butt for most fire. So these bikes can also be used on to do mountain biking trail writing. And in wherever you can find a trail right. We have them all over. Yeah it depends on. I guess. She didn't the piracy of like trails. Bmx bikes just single speed. Bikes in you can Changed years out on a mountain bike. We all make it easier to get up. These real scooping Klein's to go down to the next pardoned. The Trail Milder Mountain biking trails are down. Nores you're the ones that are mostly downhill. Bmx bike probably work. They don't have the suspension made for Downhill Mountain. Bike here. Just a solid brain right so the BMX is a little bit more forgiving. When you're hitting bumps and so on and so Dennis now the people that participate in this sport or the mostly from the Flint Area Jesse County area for our local races. Yes but we have other writers from the other local tracks. Prostate is. There's With the district bites in senior points chasing but they also come to joy at different layout for track. One thing they come from my Waterford become from other parts of the state you indicate and before we got started here that you actually do racing and actually participate and some nationally events Yeah that's that's true raced at least ten national events a year for the past ten years And then If I can The head to the grand's a seven. Eight years go to be held in Louisville Kentucky until they combined to sanctions and they're held in Tulsa Oklahoma analysis part drive warning the grand nations' but we've had a national races close by one this year until window. They've held them in Rockford Illinois. And that's that's not too far away so You're experiencing racing hat. Do they have age groups? Is that? How many divided. Upper Yeah. Otherwise I'd I'd be y'all just Aspera ON TRACK. A lot of guys in my age class that race I raise sixty one and over cruiser class and get a good call them enough in her class. The race there sometimes. It's only three three other guys and sometimes there's six or seven or guys my each class that I Raced against Now the other younger classes they could have up to sixty kids. Wait in a race in all comes down to the final eight bad names so Dennis. Lamis switch basis here. You were born and raised in Flint Michigan and Spent most of the early life on the south end of Flint Right. Yeah that's true. Well tell us a little bit about your family. My Dad were voters in. He was a welder and my mom she was trained like part. Tangle she worked for a scorecard irons was up on North highway crossed. Macy plan we had Three brothers and two sisters and we had a pretty big Family Normal for about back then ask bumping shoulders and elbows house. Getting around getting out. Parents Yawn but young allowed to stay out all night long without getting their butts Out FROM YOUR. Dad worked at an auto factory correct. Yes he get rich. Which one did he work on? The when he worked in was Fisher body one can recall the whistleblowing off. You can hear that things here. I'm on Dr Highly and fishing mighty on Saginaw Street in here that it was time. Shift Start and when the plant went down in your Your grandfather At one point your family live with your grandfather right. Yeah that's true Neil young and he does a long. Wait the bags distracting from what you're saying we're can't here. Which is a veteran now. Moved back away from the computer. Maybe I don't lose ramble. Sounds like these big wind in? Yeah okay go ahead interrupt no problem if you can't you understand me you know. Nobody knows what I'm talking about. Yeah that's right. Well so you you. Your family lived with your grandfather. They're something to Flint Tunsil Down Small House in rift in behind my My Dad's brother and his his wife lived there until I was like six years old and we moved to let her fired of the south side but it was really small house the House probably about the size and big garages right. You talk about the neighborhood there it can. It was. It was easy going neighborhood you know. Want to fire from Little Star down down the street from US kids go down there and get candy and drink play with all the other kids on the street It was unconscious and in the south end rate cut the country's afternoon bell road and then in the backyard of that in the back yard of that house there would have been Fisher body number one near the great sit down. Strike occurred nights thirty six. Yup Yup it was. I I remember going to the fence that separated us from the railroad. That was up transport parts and cars out of there and watch the trains coming in. Your family worked in that factory crack. My Dad worked there for quite some time. I think is is brother. Did I see and then Eventually when you were growing up then you would Play in the streets downs in Nelson's market. Which was the road right? Yup Dive told stay. We knew train tracks that was dragged next train tracks. Nelson's that's right now. I were talking earlier before we started our podcast about your grandfather. Where did he come from? How did he end up in Flint? think he immigrated from Spain to Mexico Spaniard in while he was very met his wife actually out as Indian blood. And after you've been on there for a while. They chose to immigrate nited States in the end up in Michigan went the they're all and he worked for. Ibm All cotton standard. Just off the ranch travers inbetween van travers. That wrote and that was an auto supplier that made Supplies for making seating and so forth in the in the factory. Yeah I believe was A Lotta seat back then at patent in them and Merck bear not exactly sure we're getting might have been a city work with Sewing machines used remember was called cotton standard once while we go meet him and then your family moved to another neighborhood. Further to the to the east over in the Freeman School neighborhood. Yeah we were. We moved over there Strange because I got used to McKinley school six or seven months. Remove great big open field. Nothing there Like all the businesses that are their right now. Just a great big open building. All the homes were newly built. I don't recall having any grass on the surrounding areas of the house and fell like after maybe a year in an two years being. There would street. Did you live on? I live in Cheyenne Avenue. And you went to a different school. You say I think you said stream right. Yeah we went. The freemen wants to be moved over there like this and when did you like best about it. Reminiscent and thinking back about that. The the neighborhood in the school. What was the best part? There were so many other kids my own age. You know more friends able to walk direct to school without having to worry about our own about traffic on main roads. Nice environment off all the way to score. The school had what they call community school activities. There recall any of that the gym and so on. Yeah they were Some some fun times we would go. There begged parents ago. A lot of fun. We go inside a gym. We'd play Missiles big balls damage ball yet. We draw lemony and they would least nice. Red Marks got hit by the undoing. That and there was baseball activities that you could be a part of so so came later. You did play baseball right. Played in the summer and so forth on a baseball team. Yeah did wasn't for very long. This little guy Rb smaller statute most milder friends at eight catcher. When I first started and I got my head once too often won't get my knocks off eventually got stuck out in right field so I wouldn't get hurt well Let's shift gears for a minute and talk a little bit about. How came that you you stayed in flint after you eventually went on to school at Went to fund south Western living there and then and then after South Western race tool what happened didn't do too much for a couple years. Can late young got out of modal learning more fun in after that Got Tired of not having any money on young job court myself with worked at Kroger's module working at the Kroger Stars. They decided to go to college. And Quinn Kroger's I couldn't. I couldn't do two fulltime days at one time and then I went for a while without any any work. Can I ended up ended up at General Motors issued by Colada? Okay that's known as turn stead in the day and then later it spun off my General Motors and taken over by nine other company. Yeah got the pushed under the ground. You got torn down that I worked there for a while I was hard pressed. A lot of people in the mid seventies Comey wasn't too good but I picked up by organization called the Spanish mation set and they got a referral with General Motors and I worked there for a couple years ago. I made off like most other gym ablaze. Gypsy at bouncing land owned by dog. Dear old. Quiet Aga's well anyway. We're talking to Dennis Beira. Who IS An auto worker in Flint Michigan. And he's telling us a little bit about you just began the story about how and started working for General Motors. What year was that this Nineteen seventy seven and then and then there You got some help by community organization so seen it with the Spanish speaking Information Center. And then you began to work at the road. General Motors silly which is an auto parts plant and they have a plating operation there right. They did at the time they played it made chrome and so forth from there. You just mentioned the word Autos Gypsy and that has special meaning to auto workers throughout the Midwest. Just been not very well recorded by the news media and I think people would. Would you know listening to this art? That weren't means in reality. So why don't you explain to us a little bit about what you mean by Our worker I don't think it really matters which major company worked for there's always be downturns in carbine industry. Saw that happen you get laid off and there's another type of Kharian selling better. You could end up being transferred to those other plants so as example. I can give you this last song. I worked at Gold Lansing Grand River forms. The lake or in some ways okay. Well let's go back and sequence survey understand so you worked at at the General Motors poll on a road and then something happened in. They called me one day instead. You want US General Motors. You've gotta go work someplace else. Yes correct I got laid off and and was offered a little bit and then I got picked up the Buick plant that would be in flint. Yes and then I was there for about seven months laid off there and I got called back to the Cole Road. So they sing back where he started. And then what was your job? Classification A Kuwata road plant. I was the call equipment cleaning equipment. Equipment Cleaner Okay and then and then and then you you went back to go wire road and then what happened to you It worked there for about another year and a half two years in it goes in the eighties. Things weren't all that great. I got laid off there. I went to view and again. That's the second time you went back. Immune sin I worked there till like might have been like eighty two and was laid off while almost me think about time for time and nature laid off as long as you've worked. Yeah ever worked for General Motors and then at that point it cash out and you do. You don't have jobs were right. Yeah let you off they. Are you back to start on day? One I was lucky and heads. Renzo worked with got called Lake or in the summer when they. I note that plant and help them. I was down there on August. I acquired the local unions and they got me down a lake. Orion and I started working here in eighty four and I worked there quite some time in production for probably fifteen years then. I moved into skilled trades. Human no right no rights. Lear skilled trades of course got paid more. Yeah in the little more job security. I hope the time that had would. It's it's better than the production marker so so once you went to Lake oriented and and you've got you know you had to get educated and take an apprenticeship to get that job. What happened after that? Just gotten a journeyman scarred. Skill trade is since the then there is a planet that openness lead down seven days twelve hours of juryman scarred about two weeks afterwards they the back on all the trades a transition once again. What selling what we were building in our plant was selling Solo. You any business. They come back when they're not selling a product. Then the actor you after time. Did you switch where he worked from late oriented some other place? Yeah there was a couple times It was two thousand eleven got laid off And it was laid off for like three weeks and the flip truck and bus Paul and in fact they call all skilled trades were laid off from Lake far enough in the call him in to work at truck plant but it was an auction. We all went young. I was airport two years almost two years. Lake Orange Balzac longer now called back the League Corey about another year to once again got laid off because they were down to one ship just building which the sonic we were transitioning from building the sonic to the cards out. There now called the ball on all electric the electric card. Chevrolet and then and then So you're back at league oriented and then that ran out to I take it again. Yeah they drop down to one shift in the hold saw. They laid me off. And then. Where'd you go after that? They offered me to go to Hamtramck or lancing. I went to Land Amtrak being in in in the Detroit area and so you decide to go to lansing and work. Yeah the the drive hamtramck would probably then muttered fifteen miles farther than going to lansing. How your your Commute Lake Gory? Hammer to land. Should both yeah? We didn't really talk about that for one and one of the characteristics of Gypsy as they have to drive on distances to work at their new place of appointment otherwise. Sell Your House move close right. Yeah my by Dr Lake. Orange about fifty miles fifty five miles a day a day. You know one way see. You spent two hours on the road at least yup no doubt and then until Lansing I assume about the same same length or little bit more where I'm living. It's about the event which rod gate grab anywhere from seeking by December mile to get there so your your lifestyle. There becomes as an auto worker gets caught up with the economy of the area. And so you really have a hard time been laid off so many times. That back at it probably got used to the anxiety. Stability instability doesn't really stress me out as much as it used to but It's still there. Tend to get out of debt and soon as you get out of debt. And they're making a little bit headway as far as savings. Go have another shock. Wave Come at you at have a little bit saved up are you. Don't make it through so Dennis your Your lifestyle than his is greatly impacted. Not just by the commute but by the insecurity over duration of your job you're working now in lansing placement point. I'm laid off like everybody else do overnight issue but lancy plantains where I go and how many years. How many years total have you worked with seventy seven? I four team. Two thousand seventeen would have been or years. Wants forty three. Have you had any children at wanted to work in there? They they have high say tossed the idea around They like the body of a financial well. Being used may say. But it's now like it used to be so They really haven't been serious about working any other. Lifelong Dreams Air Enough Dennis We're getting to the end of our time here. I find remarkable about your story. I Wa is your your family's roots. Where so common many American stories? Which is they came from other places came to America and settled and and were productive citizens. And now you have a family. I forgot to ask me children now. I have four three daughters and a son. And what's remarkable about it? Is that despite all of these challenges that you've had with the stability of the jar mortars workplace you find time in and actually give back to the community and such significant way having gone through this in Flint and having me hasn't dispirited. You enough that you. You don't see the bigger picture. Which is you live in a community that that means your time. Your is at what motivates this that he wanted do so much to help him people. I'll community itself through all these years. Is it something for people? Go to the arts and special to get exercise to have fun jurors on Accuse got into anything from Tennyson Baseball and spires. Bmx does not close by. I like the sport myself. Bom is a good sport with families. It's lot of camaraderie. A lot of excitement. Everybody tends to help each other out rather than sit back and watch Anybody that needs help feel step off the hand. That's always been a great thing about people sitting in the most part Everyone that I've run into whether the difference about stumping. It needs now on the other person also so Dennis. Do you have any Any view of the future at this point about slant and Flint area in its people. I don't think it get any worse than ever has been so and backup in a positive direction on. There are some businesses. What I read that are looking to locate a phone area or around it The education aspect is there you them? Msu In kettering may staying around Populations Dell I guess if they Lena's overspill area so in your household at least when you talk to your children or grandchildren what do you tell them about the future. Just say your dreams in mind but at the same time you saw another strategy to help yourself all in business or by an employer that y'all you can live your dream example like my oldest daughter. I talked about earlier on. She wanted to be a Rennes excited but she loves animals. She ended up getting the job with ARTS WRECK ISSUES. Irv retreats instead of opening up in the animal control for. She's eleven where she's at right now. She wants damsels aide who true well my dentist. We're out of time here. I really appreciate the time. You've taken to explain the life of an auto worker in Flint Michigan and explained to us be. That's racing and I'm going to have to try it out sometime. Wants me gets a little better but I enjoyed meeting you and so. We'll give the backstory on our meeting. Dennison I used to play together when we're four five and six years old and then we went to the same elementary school. I seen dentist since I graduated high school. Which would have been in nineteen seventy two and today as a consequence of Of posting something about safety bill or something about you know as a result of our project here at Radio Free Flint Odd Denison. I met on a computer today and started chatting and I asked him to To Talk to and in other stories like this out there and I really really appreciate the time spent with Dennis. And I'm sure the vessel as you work with those kids out there in Richfield township and with your job you get back to your works but in meantime everyone this is Arthur Bush from Radio Free Flint and Denison. I both have a message for you. And that is stay the hell inside your house until this virus gets down road you agree Dennis. Stay safe and stay sane. Thank you very much bye-bye

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