Authors! Profiling Flint ANd Genesee County's Rich Literary Tradition
Our Third Author in This Series of Articles: Lawrence R. Gustin
Flint and Genesee County is famous for a variety of things: cars, coneys, athletes, and music. In fact, the arts also loom large in the area’s legend. But among the arts, writing and writers are often left out of the conversation. That's an almost unforgivable omission, because the art of writing is among the Flint area’s greatest gifts to the humanities.
Indeed, books by Flint authors have covered the broad spectrum of American history and interaction for well over 100 years. But this literary gift isn’t just relegated to Flint-based or birthed authors. Rather, books about Flint and Flint people also factor in to the equation to craft a rich mosaic of expression exemplified by written words.
This experience includes a vast palette of genres including the obvious one - books, but also poetry, screenwriting, and music. Some of this has found its audience locally, others have had national appeal, and in other cases international attention. As a result, the work has gained notice for its skill, and diversity of topic and author.
by Gary L. Fisher, Vice President, Genesee County Historical Society
Lawrence R. Gustin: Bringing Back a Forgotten History
As a writer for The Flint Journal from 1960 to 1984, Larry covered everything from high school sports to important news and cultural events. However, an article series on a long-forgotten Flint business and community leader led to a singularly unique niche as both a writer and storyteller. In 1972, a series of articles Gustin penned on William C. ‘Billy” Durant, founder of General Motors, revitalized local interest in his story and led to a book published in 1973, Billy Durant: Creator of General Motors.
That award-winning book kick started Flint’s movement to remember and honor it’s past, while also telling it to the rest of the world. The story included Gustin’s own involvement with several of the principals, including multiple interviews with Durant’s widow Catherine, Durant’s last personal assistant, Aristo Scrobogna, Charles Stewart Mott, Arthur Sarvis (who as a young reporter used to stalk Durant downtown at a coffee shop he haunted), Clarence Young, the Flint historian who previously carried Durant’s banner, and others.
Gustin went on to become the Assistant Public Relations Director for Buick. He also continued to write great books about Flint and the people who made it a worldwide powerhouse, including The Buick: A Complete History with co-author the late Terry Dunham, and David Buick’s Marvelous Motor Car, with Kevin Kirbitz, which was the very first biography of the founder of the first Buick automobile company.
During the Bicentennial year of 1976 he also created the Picture History of Flint, which was widely distributed and remains a mainstay of many Flint maven’s personal bookshelves.