Exclusive Interview: Detroit author RJ King discusses his new book ‘8 Track: The First Mobile App’ which details the pivotal role of Ford Motor Company in bringing the 8-Track Tape Player to market

Exclusive Interview: Detroit author RJ King discusses his new book ‘8 Track: The First Mobile App’ which details the pivotal role of Ford Motor Company in bringing the 8-Track Tape Player to market

RJ King 8 Track book

I’ve always loved Boston-Edison. This is a large residential Historic District in the geographic center of Detroit full of stately homes, wide boulevards, and old-fashioned streetlamps. Detroit author and DBusiness magazine editor RJ King moved to a beautiful three-story Colonial Revival here in 1994.

Sitting in RJ’s living room, we can hear the steam gently whooshing through the radiators. Soothing, it reminds of my Marpac Dohm sound machine, whose sonic white noise helps me sleep.

RJ is very welcoming, hospitable, and insightful. In terms of stories and hidden history, he has an eagle eye for tantalizing, overlooked, and underreported gems. A writing talent, RJ has penned over 6,000 articles at DBusiness and over 16 years for The Detroit News. Prolific at home, RJ has written four books. Never one to lollygag or dawdle, he’s also a licensed real estate agent!

We’re here discussing his fabulous new book, “8 Track: The First Mobile App,” published by Folktellers and Written in Detroit.

RJ King, Detroit author of 8 Track the First Mobile App (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

When publicly released in October 1965 by Ford Motor Co., the 8 Track tape player completely revolutionized in-car audio and how music in general was experienced by consumers.

It offered, for the first time, a mobile music experience in an industry dominated by AM Radio and record players.

Since then, the 8 Track, which essentially offered “album” cartridges, served to bootstrap the introduction of cassettes, followed by compact discs, and now downloads. Today, the medium has been largely forgotten as a fun and useful device in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The last major release on 8 Track was in 1988 with Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits.”

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

Sure, from 2009-2014 there was an 8 Track museum run by Bucks Burnett in Deep Ellum, Texas.

And Barry Fone runs Barry’s 8 Track Repair Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz.

And don’t forget “Tracker Bob” Hiemenz. Bob owns the world’s largest 8 Track collection. Over 90,000 tapes and 700+ players are stored at his house in Quincy, Illinois. But for many people, especially those who postdate 8 Track mania, the true story is a quick trip back in life filled with nostalgia.

RJ’s new book is an incredibly detailed and well-researched story of Detroit and Ford Motor Co.’s pivotal role in the development and rollout of the 8 Track tape player.

Part hidden history, part business lesson, this is a story largely untold until now.

 

RJ King on His Book

8 Track book RJ King (photo by: Ryan M. Place

“My older brother Patrick emailed me a speech that my dad, John P. King, had written in 1975 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 8 Track tape player. Until reading that email, I had no idea my dad was intimately involved in the development of 8 Track back when he was a product engineer at Ford.”

“Fascinated, I searched for a period history of 8 Track, and there was nothing. So I started researching my dad’s involvement, assembling a chronology, reading Billboard magazines every week from 1964 to 1980, and doing interviews with my dad and other key people whom he introduced me to.”

“I worked on the book on weekends, typing it up on my iMac, and about a year and a half later had a final product.”

“This book details the leap from stationary music to mobile music. The 8 Track really was the first mobile music app. Prior to its creation, you could only listen to music live, on a record player, or on AM radio. What Ford and Motorola did, using Bill Lear’s design which they modified, is they built a combined AM Radio and 8 Track tape player and it completely revolutionized music and car audio.”

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

“All four of the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math) were used to invent, launch, and sustain 8 Track. It was a big leap from the mono world to the stereo world. The 8 Track was a physical music playback system that allowed you to listen to songs without being present with the band. It was the introduction of ‘music to go.’”

My dad was hired by Ford in January 1965, and the 8 Track was ready to go by October 1965. It was a rush program, to be sure. After Ford came out with 8 Track, Chrysler, and then GM, Volkswagen, and American Motors offered 8 Track. It was successful because it was a group effort.”

Motorola designed the players, Lear made the cartridges, RCA contributed the music, and Ford installed the players into 1966 model year vehicles.”

“Initially, none of the record companies would license their music to 8 Track. But Bill Lear knew David Sarnoff, chairman at RCA Records, and they licensed 175 albums.”

Motown 8-Track (courtesy of Google Archives)

“Then later, Motown Records in Detroit, licensed some of their catalog for it. And all the other record companies came on board, and by 1970 it was a $1 billion industry. Motown even let Lear’s team transfer the initial master record tracks from RCA to magnetic tape. Berry Gordy would sometimes come up and hang out on the third floor of Motown Records (which is a converted house on West Grand Blvd.), and the machine was only available after midnight.”

“What I want the reader to take-away is that forming a talented team and working together is key to the success of any project. You’ll also learn how vital it is to control your intellectual property, and how to launch a major industry from scratch, and take advantage of the good sales years and properly prepare for winding down the business, as 8 Track gave way to cassettes, and so on.”

 

RJ’s dad John P. King fills in the gaps

RJ calls his father on the phone. His dad, John P. King, is 85 years old. He grew up on Chicago’s west side on Jackson Boulevard near Garfield Park, until moving to Michigan in January 1965. He earned a master’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and he had magnetic tape background based on his early employment.

John started out as project engineer for the introduction of the 8 Track Tape Player, and wrote all the standards (and made sure everyone adhered to them).

He retired as Regional Manager of Asia Pacific and New Markets for Ford Customer Service Division in 1997, and today is active with FREE (Ford Retired Executive Engineers).

John says:

“The development of 8 Track was fast-tracked so we could make the 1966 model year. We all worked many extra hours to bring it to market in only nine months, which was unheard of.”

“Back then, I had what we called a ‘Sound-Off’ with Earl ‘Mad Man’ Muntz out at the Ford Assembly Plant (28801 South Wixom rd, Wixom, MI). Muntz acquired that nickname in Los Angeles when he had a used car business. He was the guy who invented the 4 Track tape player, and he had a flair for showmanship and self-promotion. He was trying to get all the automakers to go for his 4 Track.”

“The Sound-Off was held at the Ford Wixom Plant, where at that time they were building the Thunderbird and the Lincoln Continental. Well we had an audio test among a small group of Ford people and Muntz, and we pitted his 4 Track against our 8 Track tape player by doing a live demonstration.”

“I showed up with my 1963 Ford Fairlane wagon, but I had swapped out the factory speakers with six-by-nine-inch speakers front and rear, and I had installed a very new production 8 Track tape player. From there, it was obvious that the 8 Track sounded far better. What wasn’t obvious was that I had installed stereo speakers in my car.”

Ford Quadrasonic 8-Track (courtesy of Google Archives)

“One other funny story. Donald Frey, the guy who designed the Ford Mustang, lived near Pete Estes, who was vice president for General Motors. Don was the overall lead on 8 Track at Ford, and he asked if speakers could be mounted in the front grill of his car, and he wanted specially loud Motorola bullhorn speakers. The speakers were wired to Don’s 8 Track tape player in his car. At the time, Ford’s ad slogan was ‘Ford has a better idea.’ So every morning when he drove by Pete’s house, Don would blast that slogan with the music at full volume.”

“Later, in 1967, Don Frey had us do a sound comparison between the 8 Track Tape Player with the latest cassette tape. At that time, the fidelity of the 8 Track was superior. Another factor was you had to manually flip the cassette, where 8 Track was hands free. But eventually cassette won out as Lear, who owned the patents on 8 Track, sold them to Gates Rubber Co., and they failed to renew the patents in 1975. From there, the standards could not be maintained, and the industry started to introduce cheaper products.”

“A plus for cassette tapes was that it was much easier to record your own material. And the cassette was half the size of 8 Track. So we helped usher in cassettes, and then compact discs. When I retired from Ford in 1997, downloads were available, and you could see one day they would be readily available.”

Back to RJ.

 

RJ King Biography

RJ King (courtesy of DBusiness)

“I have 6 sisters, 2 brothers, and I’m in the middle! (laughs) I have 3 sisters and 1 brother older, and also 3 sisters and 1 brother younger.”

“I’m editor of DBusiness magazine. Prior to that I was working at The Detroit News starting in 1990. I was on the business staff until I ran into Gail Fisher (now Gotthelf) while volunteering at a charity event during Super Bowl week in February 2006.”

“Gail worked for Hour Media and said the two owners, John Balardo and Stefan Wanczyk, were looking to start a business magazine. I came onboard and that’s how DBusiness was born.”

DBusiness Magazine

Hour Media is based in Troy, Michigan. As a parent company, they own around 160 magazines, including Hour Detroit, DBusiness, Grand Rapids magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and we have other magazines in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Cincinnati, Atlanta, all throughout Florida, the Gulf Coast of Alabama, and more.”

“In general, I write one story per day for DBusiness Daily News and write about 7-10 stories per each issue of DBusiness magazine.”

“In terms of local restaurants, some favorites are Roman Village in Dearborn and also London Chop House and the Vertical Wine Bar, both in Detroit.”

 

Upcoming Developments

Detroit Engine of America-RJ King

“We just introduced an audiobook version of my other book, ‘Detroit: Engine of America,’ available on Audible.”

“And I have a fifth book coming out in March 2021 called “Grounds for Freedom.” It’s an unbelievable true story about Andrew Niemczyk, a local inventor who has developed amazing machines and new technologies. Check out his website at Exlterra. ”

 

Buy RJ King’s 8 Track book here

https://www.amazon.com/Track-First-Mobile-Stem-Revolution/dp/B08FP4QJF1

 

Email RJ King

Rjking0090@yahoo.com

 

8 Track (and related audio) Timeline

*Most of this timeline was pieced together from information found in RJ’s book

Rarest 8-Track: SinatraJobim (courtesy of Google Archives)

  • 1928-Motorola founded in Chicago. Bill Lear helped name the company.
  • 1930-the Motorola car radio is invented
  • 1935-RJ’s father John P. King born in Chicago
  • 1948-Columbia Records introduces the LP
  • 1949-RCA invents 45 RPM
  • 1949-sales of the 1949 Ford help save the company’s fortunes
  • 1952-endless loop tape cartridge invented
  • 1954-George Eash invents the Fidelipac tape cartridge
  • September 12, 1955-Chrysler agrees to install Peter Goldmark’s in-car record player (Columbia Records) after the automaker’s team in Highland Park, MI tests the prototype by driving on the nearby Davison Freeway.
  • 1956-58-the Highway Hi-Fi in-car record player is featured in some Chrysler vehicles. It uses special 7-inch records called ‘ultra-microgroove.’ It was a big flop.
  • 1959-closed loop tape players are used at nearly every AM radio station
  • 1960-used car dealer Earl “Madman” Muntz invents the 4 track tape player
  • 1961-Michiganian Larry Spitters founds Memorex in Silicon Valley
  • 1962-the audio cassette is developed by Philips in Hasselt, Belgium
  • 1963-Bill Lear, owner of 110 patents, invents the Lear Jet to be introduced in 1966
  • October 1964-the 8-Track Stereophonic Tape Player is developed by Bill Lear and Richard Kraus at Lear Jet corporate HQ (Wichita, KS). Afterwards, they are built regularly at the Lear Jet Stereo-8 division (13131 Lyndon Ave, Detroit)
  • January 1965-John P. King moves to Dearborn to work for Ford
  • July 1965-Motorola begins production shipments of 8 Track tape players to Ford
  • October 3rd, 1965-8 Track tape players are released to the general public thanks to Lear’s friendship with Henry Ford II (grandson of big Henry). They are released in the form of an AM radio with integrated 8 track tape player installed inside Ford vehicles.
  • 1965-80 = 8 track is popular
  • 1966 = Ford sells over 125,000 8 track players as an option (available on six models)
  • Fall 1966-all Detroit automakers now offer 8-Track factory installation options
  • April 1967-Gates Rubber Co. acquires a controlling interest in Lear Jet
  • May 1967-Earl Muntz has his son Jim Muntz fly to Detroit and open Muntz CARtridge City (15278 Gratiot Ave, Detroit) to sell 4 track players and tapes
  • 1969-Sinatrajobim 8 track tape (3,500 made but quickly recalled; only a handful not recalled). This is currently the rarest 8-Track, selling for upwards of $6,000
  • September 1969-production of 8 Track tapes ceases at Lear’s Detroit plant. They move production down to twin plants in Tucson, AZ and Nogales, Mexico.
  • December 1969-Lear’s company’s name is changed to the Gates Learjet Corp.
  • 1970-RCA releases 40 Quad-8 tapes (Quadrasonic sound)
  • 1971-GM and Chrysler start offering cassette tape player options in cars
  • 1979-Sony and Philips join forces to create Red Book standards for Compact Disc Digital Audio
  • 1979-Sony Walkman invented
  • 1979-Ford introduces all-electronic AM/FM stereo radio with Quadrasonic 8 Track player. Knobs and buttons are replaced by a brand new digital display.
  • October 1982-CD player Sony CDP-101 publicly released in Japan by Sony Philips
  • April 1983-CDs become popular in USA as car manufactures install them
  • October 1984-Terra Haute, IN = first US CD plant opens
  • May 1985-CDs become insanely popular worldwide
  • 1985-Sony Discman invented
  • 1986-the Lincoln Town car has a CD player. This is the first factory-installed application in the domestic auto industry.
  • 1988-CD sales eclipse vinyl
  • November 1988-the last 8 track tape is made = Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits
  • 1991-CD sales eclipse cassettes
  • 1999-Napster file sharing MP3s
  • 2000-CD sales global peak (2.45 billion sold worldwide)
  • 2001-Apple iPod

Ford Quadrasonic 8-Track (courtesy of Google Archives)

Motorola Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

8 Track vintage (courtesy of Google Archives)

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

Motorola 8 Track (courtesy of Google Archives)

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

Panasonic 8 Track detonator (courtesy of Google Archives)

Ford 1966 advertisement (courtesy of Google Archives)

Ford 1967 advertisement (courtesy of Google Archives)

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

 

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

 

Lear Jet Stereo 8 (courtesy of Google Archives)

Tracker Bob Hiemenz (courtesy of Google Archives)

 

One lucky person will Win a FREE Autographed Copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ signed by author & historian KEN MILLER! (Retail value $100.00)

One lucky person will Win a FREE Autographed Copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ signed by author & historian KEN MILLER! (Retail value $100.00)

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

*Special thanks to Ken Miller and 1870 Publishing Group for this*

We are raffling off only ONE FREE autographed copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ by Ken Miller!

 *ONE winner will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!* 

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, May 18, 2020 – Sunday, May 24, 2020

 

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is considered The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.

Repeatedly voted the USA’S best amusement park (with best coaster Steel Vengeance and best amusement park hotel Hotel Breakers), Cedar Point attracts over 3 million visitors per year.

Lucky for us, Cedar Point is only two hours south of Detroit. Every Summer, my mom and grandparents and I used to drive down and join the adrenaline junkies for the great endorphins rush of coaster mania. My favorite ride is probably the Magnum, an underrated, terrifyingly jerky 80’s-tastic coaster. I also enjoy the annual HalloWeekends event.

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

Opened in 1870 on Lake Erie, Cedar Point is 364 acres and features 72 rides (18 roller coasters), 5 hotels, Cedar Point Shores waterpark, two marinas, a mile-long sandy beach, and more.

Some of the top coasters are: Steel Vengeance (world’s best coaster; 74 mph straight drop for 30 seconds), Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster, Raptor, GateKeeper, Wicked Twister, Valravn, etc.

You can also ride the Gondola (aka: Sky Ride) over the Main Midway. It’s 92 feet in the air and offers great views of the entire park. And there’s the classic Railroad ride (built 1963) where you pass through Boneville, an Old West town of 48 animatronic skeletons.

Cedar Point hires more than 5,000 seasonal employees from all over the world every year. Workers live on-site in the Commons Campus dorms and also Bayside Campus Apartments.

 

Ken Miller, the Herodotus of Cedar Point

Ken Miller (image courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

 

In the back NW corner of the park, in Frontier Town, inside the Town Hall Museum, you can find Ken Miller eagerly explaining park history and memorabilia.

Ken Miller has distinguished himself as a major Cedar Point historian. He is also a high school math teacher and chess enthusiast.

Recently, his company 1870 Publishing Group printed the bible of Cedar Point, a massive coffee table elephant folio sized book entitled ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’.

Scholarly, informative and action-packed, this tremendous resource took Ken over 7 years to write and compile. He even minutely combed through more than 100,000 newspaper articles.

Lushly inlaid with photographs and historical memorabilia, the book is 392 pages, measures 12 inches x 18 inches, weighs 12 pounds, and contains 75 maps.

1,000 limited-edition signed and numbered copies of the book featuring a special cover designed by Paul Bonifield and Ashley Spedding, quickly sold out.

 

Biography of Ken Miller

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

“I was born and raised in Michigan. Lived in Livonia from 3rd grade to 11th, then moved to Ohio in high school during the 70’s. I worked sales and marketing after college in the Dungeons & Dragons industry. Switched to teaching math about a dozen years ago.”

“Still read science fiction and fantasy, as well as historical drama. Favorite TV show is MASH. In my free time I play tournament chess, but I haven’t had any free time in years.”

 

Ken started working at Cedar Point in 2000 and started working at the Town Hall Museum in 2004

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

“I started with Cedar Point running the store inside the Sandcastle Suites Hotel. When the guests were in the park, the store was very slow, so I started reading the Cedar Point books we had there. Learned a lot of trivia and history about the park.”

“A few years later, I was working front of the park when management asked me to help in the museum.”

“The Town Hall Museum is run by Guest Services, so most of my job functions revolve around that. I think I have the best job in the park. I get to work with the guests, share some trivia, tell them where to get funnel cakes, etc. And stay in the air conditioning.”

 

Cedar Point is fascinating, unique, and worthy of attention

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

Cedar Point wasn’t designed. It grew organically, gradually into what it is today. The development over the last 150 years has been incredible.”

“The book is loaded with fun facts and trivia about the park. The ‘Did you know?’ pages 186-7 have lots of miscellaneous stuff.”

“One of my favorites is the amount of food the park goes through every season: 190,000 pounds of hamburger, 91 miles of hot dogs, 29,000 gallons of ice cream, 595 tons of french fries, and 800,000 gallons of beverages!”

“As for the coasters, I’m not much of a rider anymore myself. Can’t do circles, otherwise I’d be fine on the Raptor, until the final helix at the end. Favorite coaster is GateKeeper, favorite ride is the Train.”

 

Ken’s Overview of the Book

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

“’Rolling Through The Years’ is a textbook and the ultimate resource about Cedar Point. It is divided into two main sections.”

“The first section is grouped by subject. For example, if you want to know everything about the Carousels, the information is all together in one place.”

“The second section is by year. Starting in the 1700s, all the major events and developments are listed. Included in this section are over 75 maps of the park, which illustrates the amazing development of the park.”

 

The Process of Assembling and Publishing the Book

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

“Assembling the book was time consuming and difficult.”

1,200 images all had to be formatted and laid into the software. Every change on one page could inadvertently change the next page, so we had to be very careful as we put the book together. After the book was assembled, we sent it to three editors, two for content and one for copy. I also had both the current and retired Cedar Point General Manager look through the book.”

“Actually, it was far harder to print the book than expected. There are not many printers that could handle the size and weight. Our first thought was overseas, but they couldn’t guarantee any kind of time frames. We then chose a printer in Cincinnati. We ended up switching printers halfway through the project to a printer in Tennessee. The cover material was special order due to the weight and the new printer had issues with it. They could only handle a small amount of books each week, so we missed our original release date.”

 

Commonalities Among Coaster Enthusiasts & the Legendary Regulars

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

“Sure, just like any fans/enthusiasts in any pop culture milieu, we have our fair share. When I worked in the Dungeons & Dragons industry, there were fans. Football has its enthusiasts, Nascar has theirs, Broadway musicals have theirs, etc. And to anyone on the outside, it’s all weird.”

“Cedar Point has its share of regulars, many of whom come into Town Hall. Most notable was ‘Mean Streak Henry’ Sievers who had the unofficial ridership record for the Mean Streak roller coaster. And I mean thousands upon thousands of rides.”

 

Ken’s Recommendations on places to check out in Sandusky

 

“I like Danny Boys Pizza and Berardi’s Family Kitchen. My favorite place to go is the Merry-Go-Round Museum.”

 

If you have any vintage Cedar Point stories or memorabilia to share, please contact Ken

 

1870 Publishing Group

PO Box 173

Sandusky, OH 44871-0173

Kmiller@1870PublishingGroup.com

 

Cedar Point image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

 

*Special thanks to Ken Miller and 1870 Publishing Group for this*

We are raffling off only ONE FREE autographed copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ by Ken Miller!

 *ONE winner will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!* 

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, May 18, 2020 – Sunday, May 24, 2020

 

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

Order the book here

https://1870publishinggroup.com/about-the-book#e2de80f4-6bd3-4f20-97e9-301ed042afa2

 

Cedar Point Timeline

https://pointbuzz.com/history

 

Theme Park Insider

https://www.themeparkinsider.com/

 

American Coaster Enthusiasts 

https://www.aceonline.org/

 

Cedar Point Food Blog 

https://cpfoodblog.com/

 

PointBuzz: CP News 

https://pointbuzz.com/News

 

Cedar Point Demon Drop image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

 

Cedar Point’s Official List of Rides

https://www.cedarpoint.com/play/rides-coasters

 

Cedar Point Memories (Facebook Group)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/891098047631065/

 

CP Rundown 

https://www.facebook.com/cprundown/

 

Wicked Twister GWR fastest 

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/85489-fastest-roller-coaster-inverted-design

 

Wicked Twister GWR tallest 

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/85487-tallest-roller-coaster-inverted-design

 

Valravn GWR largest drop

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/85483-largest-drop-on-a-roller-coaster-floorless-design

Cedar Point Boneville image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

Cedar Point Ferry image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

Cedar Point Facts image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Boneville railroad @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Red Garter Saloon @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Beer @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Marina @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Marina @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

Win a FREE Autographed Copy of ‘The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra’ signed by author GREGORY A. FOURNIER!

Win a FREE Autographed Copy of ‘The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra’ signed by author GREGORY A. FOURNIER!

The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra

We are raffling off 3 autographed copies of ‘The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra‘ signed by author Gregory A. Fournier!

*3 winners will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!*

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, December 16 to Sunday, December 22.

The Purple Gang (photo courtesy of Google)

The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra is a concise history of one of America’s most notorious Prohibition gangs, The Purple Gang.

The Bernstein brothers and their associates were the only Jewish gang in the United States to dominate the rackets of a major American city. From their meteoric rise to the top of Detroit’s underworld to their ultimate demise, this book is an episodic account of the Purple Gang’s corrosive pursuit of power and wealth and their inevitable plunge towards self-destruction.

The Purple Gang (photo courtesy of Google)

The Purple Gang is well-known in Michigan. They were around from the 1910’s to 1932.

Some lesser known stuff about the Purples I’ve heard and read includes the following:

In 1930, my Grandpa lived at 638 East Ferry Street, Detroit. He would frequently see the Purple Gang hanging out in the back of a candy shop on Hastings Street and Medbury Street. This is the current spot of the 94 and 75 interchange.

The Purple Gang were responsible for an estimated 500 murders in 5 years and many of them wound up in Jacktown (aka: Jackson Prison), the world’s largest walled prison at the time. Rampant corruption allowed The Purples to run the prison from within.

The Sugar House Bar at 2130 Michigan Avenue Detroit is named in honor of the Purples old 1920’s hangout called The Sugar House on Oakland Avenue. The current bar is a cool, dimly lit, narrow, speakeasy-type place, check it out.

The Leland Hotel was built in 1927 at 400 Bagley St, Detroit. The Purple Gang murdered someone in the lobby of the Leland in 1930. The Leland is now an apartment building.

Harry ‘Chinky’ Meltzer (Sept 23, 1910-Nov 3, 1993) lived in Detroit. His dad opened the Schvitz Oakland Ave Bathhouse in 1930. The Purple Gang used to meet frequently at the bathhouse. Currently, the bathhouse still stands and looks the same.

After Prohibition, several of the Purples relocated to Albion, Michigan, which is about 1hr 30mins west of Detroit.

In 1946, a Michigan Senator in Albion was going to turn states evidence. So, a few incarcerated Purples borrowed a car from Jackson Prison, drove to Springport, Michigan, assassinated the Senator and drove back to prison. As a reward for their work, the Purples were taken to the Pearl Street bordello for some fun.

 

About the Author

Gregory A. Fournier author

Detroit native and Literary Classics gold medal award-winning author Gregory A. Fournier received his bachelor and master’s degrees in Language Arts from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

His other titles include: Zug Island, Terror In Ypsilanti, and The Richard Streicher Jr. Murder.

Fournier writes short history posts for his blog Fornology, and he has appeared on the Investigation Discovery Channel as a guest expert on John Norman Collins for the series A Crime to Remember in an episode entitled “A New Kind of Monster.”

Greg’s book will be an historical and exciting read. Check it out!

 

Fornology blog

https://fornology.blogspot.com/

 

Homepage

https://gregoryafournier.com/

 

We are raffling off 3 autographed copies of ‘The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra‘ signed by author Gregory A. Fournier!

*3 winners will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!*

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, December 16 to Sunday, December 22.

Purple Gang leader, Abe Bernstein (photo courtesy of Gregory A. Fournier)

The Purple Gang (photo courtesy of Google)

Detroit Prohibition (photo courtesy of Google)

The Purple Gang (photo courtesy of Google)

Bookfest Explorer Series # 1: Boston, Massachusetts

Bookfest Explorer Series # 1: Boston, Massachusetts

Boston waterfront (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Here at Detroit Bookfest we are starting a new series called the Bookfest Explorer Series.

This will be a collection of travel experiences whereby we will periodically document our literary travels, both domestic and abroad, to help highlight the global community of books.

First up, Boston.

Founded in 1630, Boston is the 7th oldest city in the United States. Featuring sunken red brick sidewalks and beautiful old buildings aplenty, the city is loaded with history and rows of opulent townhouses for blocks.

Heading from Logan Airport to the Park Plaza Hotel (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Boston Athenæum

10 ½ Beacon Street

https://www.bostonathenaeum.org/

Open since 1807, non-members can tour the first floor of this exceptional private library for $10.00. All 12 floors are open to members.

The focus of the collection is arts and humanities. World-class paintings grace the walls and there are marble busts of philosophers on stands.

Through the rear window, you can see the grave of Paul Revere in the Granary Burying Ground! This old cemetery opened in 1660 and there are several historical grave sites here.

Also, as a bonus, check out the Paul Revere House (19 North Square). Built in 1680, it’s Boston’s oldest building. Paul Revere’s famous 1775 Midnight Ride started here.

Boston Athenæum (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Boston Athenæum (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Boston Athenæum (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Image courtesy of James Cole

Boston Athenæum (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Paul Revere’s Grave @ Granary Burying Ground (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Paul Revere’s Grave @ Granary Burying Ground (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

old grave @ Granary Burying Ground (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Granary Burying Ground (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

 

Brattle Book Shop

9 West Street

http://www.brattlebookshop.com/

Open since 1825, this great three-story used & rare bookstore also features an outdoor open-air courtyard full of books.

The third floor is the Rare Book Room. Marvelous stuff. Owner Ken Gloss is impressively knowledgeable.

Brattle Books (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Brattle Books (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Brattle Books (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

Boston Public Library

700 Boylston Street

https://www.bpl.org/

Open since 1848 and smartly situated in beautiful Copley Square, the BPL was the first large free municipal library in the United States.

Be sure to check out the gorgeous 2nd floor Bates Hall reading room.

Also located on the 2nd floor, the Abbey Room, looks medieval European ornate, walls adorned with giant murals of the Holy Grail tale and 150 life-size figures from Arthurian legend ring the room, staring down at you. Who says paintings can’t talk?

Boston Public Library (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bates Hall reading room @ BPL (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Abbey Room @ BPL (image courtesy of BPL)

 

Parker House Hotel

60 School Street

https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/boston-parker-house

This beautiful 14-floor hotel opened in 1855. Charles Dickens lived here on the 3rd floor from 1867-68. He read ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the Last Hurrah Bar inside the hotel for the first time in America. They have his original door (view it in the basement) and gigantic mirror (view it on the mezzanine level) here.

Also, of note, Ho Chi Minh was a pastry chef here 1911-13, Malcolm X was a busboy, the Boston Cream Pie was invented here, and President JFK was a frequent guest!

Parker House Hotel (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Parker House Hotel (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Parker House Hotel (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Parker House Hotel (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Parker House Hotel (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Parker House Hotel (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

Ars Libri

500 Harrison Ave

https://www.arslibri.com/

Cool bookstore specializing in academic library collection development. You can buy books from the private research libraries of art scholars.

I bought a book called ‘Ancient Roman Monuments’ by Pignatorre with 61 beautiful hand drawn plates, very mild foxing and spotting.

Ars Libri (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Ars Libri (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Ars Libri (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

The Mapparium @ Mary Baker Eddy Library

200 Massachusetts Ave

https://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/project/mapparium/

Located next to the worldwide home of the Christian Science Church (which also houses the world’s 9th largest pipe organ), the Mary Bakery Eddy Library features a one-of-a-kind experience inside The Mapparium.

For only $6.00, you can tour The Mapparium for a delightfully psychedelic experience. The Mapparium is a 30-foot stained glass globe built in 1935 and features 608 glass panels. A walkway bisects the center of it.

At one point, they turn the lights off and there’s a light show around the world. Crazy how sound travels in here, sounds like every whisper is microphone-amplified, incredible.

Please note that photography is not allowed inside The Mapparium.

Mapparium (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Mapparium (image courtesy of Mary Baker Eddy Library)

Hope you get to check out Boston!

Boston (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Win a FREE Personalized Autographed Copy of ‘Detroit: Engine of America’ signed by author R.J. KING!

Win a FREE Personalized Autographed Copy of ‘Detroit: Engine of America’ signed by author R.J. KING!

Detroit: Engine of America (photo courtesy of Calvert Lithgraph Company)

 

*Special thanks to R.J. King for this*

We are raffling off one personalized autographed copy of ‘Detroit: Engine of America‘ signed by author R.J. King!

*One winner will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!*

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, September 23 to Sunday, September 29.

 

Detroit: Engine of America

Detroit: Engine of America‘ is written by award-winning journalist, editor, and author R.J. King. Published by Momentum Books, this 168-page hardcover book is the ultimate book about Detroit’s history.

King, editor of DBusiness magazine, DBusiness Daily News, DBusiness Tech and Mobility News, and Detroit 500, details chronologically, for the first time, how the city grew, step by step, from a French fort on the Detroit River in 1701 to become the world’s first industrial powerhouse and the birthplace of the automotive industry in 1900.

In the first chapter, “Detroit: Engine of America” details how from 1600 to 1800 the superpowers of Europe — France, England, Spain, and the Netherlands — opened trade routes to the New World. The English and the Dutch settled along the East Coast, the Spanish went south to Florida, Cuba, and the West Indies, while the French sailed the St. Lawrence River and established Quebec and Montreal before turning south to found Detroit.

From there, the book covers the city’s growth by decade, from 1800 to 1900, including the Great Fire of 1805, the platting of modern streets by Augustus B. Woodward, the War of 1812 and the surrender of the city to the British, the resulting American victory, the rapid development of a manufacturing economy, the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, and the resulting mass migration of people from the East Coast and beyond to what is the oldest city in the Midwest.

Detroit: Engine of America (image courtesy of Momentum Books)

Readers will learn about Detroit’s role in other major milestones such as the establishment of Michigan as a state in 1837, and the expansion of industry fueled by the production of iron, steel, copper, and brass machinery, and the breakneck progression of farms, hearths, stoves, mills, foundries, steamships, railroads, and finally, the horseless carriage.

The book is designed as a journal, complete with a red page-mark ribbon, to evoke an explorer’s guide to Detroit. Booklovers can follow in the footsteps of well-known pioneers, inventors, and merchants of the era, including Antoine Laumet de la Mothe Cadillac, Lewis Cass, Father Gabriel Richard, Gov. Stevens T. Mason, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Elijah Brush, Bernhard Stroh, Frederick Sanders, R.L. Polk, Ellen Scripps, Mayor Hazen S. Pingree, Henry Ford, and many more.

“Detroit has turned the corner on its renaissance, but few people know how the city was, and still is, at the cutting edge of manufacturing, innovation, and culture,” says King, author of “Mystical,” “Passport to the Corner Office,” and “8 Track: The First Mobile App.” “My new book is a tribute to the men and women who built a city out of the wilderness starting in 1701, and sustained its incredible growth to become the world’s Industrial Versailles in 1900. And the best part is, Detroit is still leading the way. It remains the ultimate Maker City.”

Momentum Books was founded in 1987 and was acquired by Hour Media in 2001. As a small press focusing on regional nonfiction, Momentum has cultivated a reputation for its exceptional catalog of award-winning, mostly Michigan-centric, books.

Momentum Books

“It’s an outstanding book.”

Bob Bury, President and CEO, Fair Lane Home of Clara and Henry Ford, former President and CEO, Detroit Historical Museum

“It’s a beautiful book and it’s done so well.”

Mitch Albom, Author, Columnist, Host on WJR-AM

“R.J. King’s book provides great insight on leadership and how people working together can accomplish amazing things.”

Vanessa Denha-Garmo, Host, “It’s Your Community,” WJR-AM

R.J. King (photo courtesy of R.J. King)

Biography of R.J. King

R.J. King is editor of DBusiness magazine, DBusiness Daily News, Tech and Mobility News, and Detroit 500, all of which cover companies in metro Detroit and Michigan that are expanding locally, nationally, and internationally. He also is author of four books, “Detroit: Engine of America,” “Passport to the Corner Office: The Starter’s Guide to Corporate Life,” “8 Track: The First Mobile App,” and “Mystical.”

Since 2011, DBusiness magazine has been honored with more than 35 Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals in the Editorial Excellence Awards from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers, including being named the top regional business magazine in the country. Prior to launching DBusiness in 2006, Mr. King was a business writer for The Detroit News for 16 years, where he wrote more than 4,000 articles covering economic development, automotive, aerospace, health care, technology, transportation, and other business sectors.

Mr. King is a board member of the Brother Rice Business Alliance, Beyond Basics, Detroit Aircraft Corp., Detroit Spacecraft Corp., ASX, and the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he serves on the Board of Trustees for The Parade Co. He is a member of the Detroit Athletic Club, and on the board of the DAC Executives Club and the DAC Car Club. He also is a member of the Boston-Edison Historic District and the University of Michigan Alumni Association. In 2014, Mr. King was inducted into the International Heritage Foundation’s Heritage Hall of Fame.

DBusiness Magazine

 

Momentum Books

https://www.momentumbooks.com/

DBusiness Magazine

https://www.dbusiness.com/

Hour Detroit

https://www.hourdetroit.com/

 

*Special thanks to R.J. King for this*

We are raffling off one personalized autographed copy of ‘Detroit: Engine of America‘ signed by author R.J. King!

*One winner will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!*

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, September 23 to Sunday, September 29.

 

 

R.J. King (courtesy of R.J. King)