Impending demolition of Towers stirs memories

A s a kid I was a country boy. Born and raised in the Davison area we lived in the middle of more than 70 acres of farm land, most of which is developed today.

A trip into the city of Flint was a big deal back then and seeing buildings that were 18 or 19 stories was something that left me awe struck.

We occasionally visited Detroit when I was a kid and those buildings were obviously even larger, but not usually something I appreciated as much as a drive to Flint because my father, who ironically grew up in Detroit, absolutely hated driving there.

The trip to Detroit was usually fraught with expletives and angry realizations we had made a wrong turn or were going the wrong direction — which took the enjoyment out of seeing the big buildings.

But Flint was close to home and my dad worked downtown in the Mott Foundation Building so he was more at ease with a drive there.

For me, I loved seeing the big buildings — especially the Genesee Towers, which back in the 1970s sported a lit “Genesee Bank” sign on top.

My dad took me a couple times to his office in the Mott Foundation Building and I got to see what it was like to be in what I believed, at the time, a “skyscraper.” Yes, I was a naive country bumpkin back then who probably would have been shocked that there were actually buildings 100 stories and higher in major cities around the world.

While I enjoyed seeing the place where my dad worked, I was always drawn to the Genesee Towers.

As I got older I realized the building was the result of nearly a century of the auto industry being based here in Flint and sometimes I wonder if Flint hadn’t seen the auto industry pack up and leave if it would have continued to grow.

It seems almost fitting that the building began to fall apart after its heyday — much as General Motors in Flint did. While it wasn’t a GM building, it was built on the prosperity GM brought Flint during its run here.

When the building is demolished this weekend I hope it paves the way to breathe new life back into Flint. What the city and county needs is a new direction, one that isn’t tied to GM’s success or failure.

Only when we’re ready to let go of the past is Flint going to be able to move on.

I will make it a point to see the demolition of the building this weekend, when it comes down as scheduled Dec. 22.

The only thing better than seeing a tall building is watching an old building being demolished.

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