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The Road to Ruin?

Ypsilanti, MI

Amy Scott Oct 8, 2008

Speaking of wacky weather, I woke up shivering in Ann Arbor, Michigan yesterday and then ate dinner last night on a patio near Cincinnati, where a bottle of mosquito repellent was thoughtfully placed by each table. It was about 70 degrees.

Spent most of yesterday driving through southeastern Michigan. A labor professor I met at the University of Michigan directed me to the Bomber Restaurant in Ypsilanti. It’s been in business for more than 75 years. Owner John Sebastian told me it got its name from the nearby Willow Run Ford plant, where B-24 bombers were made during World War II. The place is full of model planes, wartime memorabilia, and Michiganders who are fed up with their state economy.

Economists say Michigan has been in recession for several years. And just about everyone I talked to knew someone who’d been laid off recently. As I was packing up to hit the road, a young woman and man approached me. She’d just been told her last day at a community college job would be Halloween. He’d been laid off from an auto part supplier last month, had lined up two jobs, and then both of them fell through because of additional layoffs.

Michigan was considered an important “battleground state” in the presidential election, until John McCain pulled the plug on his campaign there last week…at least temporarily. I talked to some voters who were bewildered by the decision. A few of them aren’t sold on Barack Obama either, but McCain’s decision felt like one more example of the state getting left behind.

1240 miles down. 350 to go!

Meet me in St. Louis?

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