I’m not sure whether I have anything to say about the Chrysler bankruptcy or not. I am about as well informed about the auto industry as I am about the swine flu, which is to say not much. Mostly random reading and stories on NPR. But hearing the news today, I couldn’t help but think of a time back in the early 80s when Chrysler was going through a similar (?) crisis. Maybe all the vee-hickle companies were, I can’t quite remember. We went to the Detroit auto show that year and sitting at a table in Chrysler’s area was none other than their new CEO, Lee Iacocca. As far as I know, it is fairly unusual for an auto company CEO to present himself as accessible to the public in a public venue but there he was, big as life. And he went on to lead Chrysler back into prosperity for many years. Ever drive a minivan? Chrysler invented them under Lee’s leadership.
We don’t go to the Detroit Auto Show every year. I did when I was a kid. Actually, I probably didn’t go *every* year. After all, it was at least five hours from my home in Yooperland and it happens in the winter, not that winter driving conditions ever deterred Grandroobly from driving down south. But my Granddaddy and Bolette lived in Detroit when I was a kid and since we had a convenient place to stay, we went to the auto show often enough to create a little routine. We would drive downtown from the grandparents’ house. Grandroobly and The Engineer would go straight to the auto show. The Commander and I would go to the downtown Hudson’s store, where I would always get a new outfit or two. She had worked at the downtown Hudson’s store as a buyer in her youth and she knew her way around that huge store fluently. Eventually we would walk from Hudson’s over to Cobo Hall and spend the afternoon walking around the auto show with the boyz. I was never all that interested in the vee-hickles but I was *fascinated* with the beautiful models and their clothing and it was all fun and we would return to Granddaddy and Bolette’s house, big-city treasures in hand. One more breakfast in their breakfast nook and we’d be off back to the boring wasteland of Yooperland. At least that’s what I thought about my beautiful and beloved homeland back in those days.
I don’t know what’s next for Chrysler or the American auto industry. Grandaddy and Bolette moved out to Birmingham after the ’67 riots and they’ve been dead for years, and now Grandroobly and The Engineer are too. The old Hudson’s store is long gone. Detroit is a shell of a city. I’ve been living my life out on the Planet Ann Arbor all these years, going home to the Yooperland whenever I can and dreaming of California. I hope the auto companies can be revived. As for Brother Lee? According to the good old Wiki, he’s only a few years younger than our own Commander, so I guess he’s excused from trying to rescue Chrysler this time.