I attended a book signing yesterday for a book that has been a long time coming.
Many sports books and movies have been written about the underdog or racial discord. Hoosiers, Glory Road and The Mighty Titans come to mind. It’s time for River Rouge to have it’s own story for theirs isn’t a tale that lasted just one season. Rouge’s story lasted for almost two decades. Black, White and Greene, written by William F. Charles, is the story of the Mighty Midgets – the 1954 beginning of the River Rouge Panthers basketball dynesty, the friendships that formed during those days, and a little history of this self-contained city.
The book signing was at Ukazoo Books in Southgate and I found many familiar faces.
Two of the original Mighty Midgets team were there to offer support:
The legendary Blanche Martin…
And our beloved Dwayne “DeeDee” Smith with his wife, Shirley.
Team members from later years attended, too. Among several, Esley Williams and Leighton “Nicky” Moulten.
Nicky, in the thrilling 1972 state final in a packed Jenison Field House, scored two amazing free throws to win the game. Rouge was behind by one point with two seconds on the clock, Nicky was fouled and given a one/one free throw. He had to make the first shot to allow for a second. Nicky sunk them, one swish, two swish, for an amazing one point victory over Muskegon Heights.
The book also contains several interesting facts about River Rouge, including Isabel Castro who appeared on “I Love Lucy” in 1952, and the many stores, bars and restaurants which supported the city.
So, how does it happen that a retired Presbyterian pastor from California writes a book about a small blue collar town in 1950’s Michigan? Charles attended a 2001 River Rouge High School reunion with his wife Marge “Moyra” Shaw. She figures prominently in his book and is on the cover. Charles was awe-inspired by the companionship and deep respect and love that the black and white former classmates displayed for each other and Coach Lofton Greene. He determined there was a story that had to be told.
Any of us from Rouge would concur.
Joyous and ever-loyal
Let us boost for our old high.
Let every heart sing
Let every voice ring.
There’s not time to grieve or sigh.
It’s ever onward our course pursuing.
May defeat ne’er our ardor cool
For united we will route for
River Rough High School.
Black, White and Greene can be purchased at Ukazoo Books in Southgate, Michigan. For more information or to share your experience of River Rouge, please contact the author, William F. Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.