Dodge Main, an ungainly collection of four- and six-story, 1920s-genre factory buildings, occupies roughly a square mile of Hamtramck just across the Detroit City line. The front-office windows are wire-meshed against some feared assault, or perhaps just against small boys throwing rocks, and the factory windows are begrimed beyond recognition. At shift break, workers erupt out of the main gate, quite as the masses poured out of the mine-pits and factory maws of Art Young’s cartoons. Scarcely heeding the traffic lights recently installed at their demand and for their protection, they rush across Joseph Campau to the bars on the opposite side of the street or to their cars parked nose-to-nose in giant parking lots. Men, women, many of them young and a large number black, hurry away as fast as their second-hand cars will take them. Not one ever looks back.
The union hall is already a 1940s relic, located a block or so up Joseph Campau from Dodge Main. Standing before the hall, one’s view of the plant is partially blocked by a railroad bridge and the lineup of piggybacked cars waiting shipment. The second “D” and first “L” are missing from the once-proud blue letters over the doorway, “DO GE OCAL 3.” A picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt looms darkly in the back corner of one fair-sized meeting hall. In the anteroom of another, larger hall, several groups of retired workers play cards and chat in Polish. Within the hall itse...
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