Roger McCoy, Channel 50 (Detroit) newscaster during a radio interview on WJR January 1, 1993.
Grady has spent his career guarding the wilderness area and keeping developers at bay. He also knows the Mosquito area holds a secret that could contribute to its own ruin. Suspension or no suspension Grady will not stand by and watch it happen. So along with a few friends, tips from a former female governor, and a collection of wonderfully weird and amusing minor characters Service wades into the political swamp in Lansing and chases around the U.P. in pursuit of who or what is trying to pry the mineral rights from the state.
Heywoods' plots are like bottle rockets that go off in all kinds of unexpected and exciting directions. His dialogue is sharp enough to cut and often very funny. But it's his wonderful sense of place and rich character development, paired with the author's innate storytelling ability that makes his books such runaway successes. In Heywood's last two books the life-long poacher and backwoods idiot savant Limpy Allerdyce has grown from little more than a walk-on part in Heywood's earlier books to a major character and a hilarious, cockeyed Dr. Watson to Gardy Service's Sherlock Holmes. Limpy, the UPs famed deer poacher, had an epiphany (he would neither know what the word meant nor how to pronunciation it) in the previous book and became Grady's unofficial partner in catching other poachers. He may have stopped killing deer but he regularly murders the English language with both outrageously original Yooperisms and his knack for mispronouncing words. In Allerdyce's world misdemeanor becomes missingdemanners, felonies become falconies, and when physically challenged while sitting and made fun of for his age and small size he replied, "I play bigger than I sit..."
Joseph Heywood is a storyteller at the top of his craft. For the uninitiated, the eleven books in what the publisher calls "The Woods Cop Mysteries" is a sheer mountain of reading pleasure. If one were to ask Limpy if the latest book in the series is any good, he'd probably say, "Youse betcha, cross my harp."
Bad Optics by Joseph Heywood. Lyons Press, 2018, $27.95
Although this is a biography of Wills the authors can't pass up interesting and intriguing automotive historical oddities. The Dodge Brothers allowed kegs of beer in their plant and workers could partake of the suds while working. This was done so the plant didn't lose workers to bars during their shift. After instituting $5 a day pay Ford created a Sociology Department and posted rules of conduct that set limits for alcohol consumption, cleanliness, and what workers could spend their wages on. Agents called on homes of Ford workers to be sure rules were followed, monitored bank accounts, checked children's school attendance, and decreed any male over 22 who worked for Ford must be married.
After WWI Ford and Wills began drifting apart. Wills wanted to update and improve the Model T while Ford felt it was perfect as is. When Henry and his wife went to Paris, Wills built a new prototype to succeed the Model T. When Ford returned and saw the new model he tore the doors off and took a sledgehammer to the car. Ford also didn't like it that Wills shared his dividend check with fellow employees and didn't live a quiet and sedate lifestyle like the Fords. In 1919 the two parted ways and Wills started his own car company.
When the first Wills Sainte Claire rolled off the assembly line in 1921 the authors easily support their claim that it was a car ahead of its time. They point out it was precision engineered and made wide use of a new alloy that was lighter and stronger than steel which made for a very durable car. It also had a number of innovations including backup lights, four-wheel hydraulic brakes, and a twin overhead cam. To house his workers Wills built the model city of Marysville that had paved streets, street lights, public parks, schools, churches and new homes with running water, indoor plumbing, and electric stoves. For unmarried workers, he built dorms with cafeterias that rivaled the finest colleges dormitories.
This short, quick read features an abundance of photographs and illustrations. It is a welcome introduction to and a fascinating portrait of an important automotive engineer, innovator, and visionary who for too long has been either ignored or forgotten.
Michigan's C. Harold Wills by Alan Naldrett & Lynn Lyon Naldrett. History Press, 2018 $21.99
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