Marceline Hartung


Marceline Hartung


Marceline Hartung was a 19 year old nursing student in July of 1967 and watched the events unfold from the roof of her dorm.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written Story


In the summer of 1967, I was a 19 year old young woman in my second year of nurses training at Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing, a 3 year residential program. I was from Saginaw, about 100 miles north of Detroit. During my first year, I rode the Greyhound bus home every Friday night (a three hour trip), but by the second year, I chose to stay at school many of the weekends, having made new friends and learning my way around Detroit a bit. We enjoyed walking to the Fischer Building, Saks, Woodward Avenue to shop, taking the bus downtown to the Fox Theater, Hudson’s, Wayne State, etc. We loved the coffee shops and restaurant (the Lodge) in the area.
I knew we lived in a racially mixed neighborhood, but wasn’t really aware of the level of unrest.
The weekend the riots started was warm; there were only a handful of us staying at school on my floor (5th). We enjoyed laying out on our dorm roof, listening to “CKLW”. The roof was smooth, flat, and had short walks – we could see all over Detroit from that roof. When the riots started, we watched TV in our lounge. As the rioting, looting, and violence and continued, those students who went home were told to stay home. All students remaining were quarantined – not to leave our campus. Fortunately, there are tunnels underground to the hospital so we could help out in the hospital if needed. We heard through the grapevine that shots were fired in the ER. From our roof we could see the 12th Street ablaze. One of my clearest memories was seeing the tanks coming down Byron Avenue, us waving and calling out the “cute” GIs manning them. I guess I just didn’t fully understand the seriousness of what I was witnessing, particularly the looting and violence.
After the riots, no major changes followed in our nursing program, except reinforcement of “not going out into the city alone.” I continued with studies for the next two years. At the time, nurses were in demand, particularly at HFH. They offered many incentives to graduates to take hospital positions for a 1 year commitment; luxury apartments at Lafayette Towers (swimming pool + doorman), furnished by Hudson’s, transportation to and from work was also offered. The apartment rent was very reasonable. Three of us decided to accept the offer; we shared a beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment We each took change positions on 3p – 11:30p shift. We really enjoyed living and working in Detroit for that year. None of us owned a car; we were able to walk or take a bus downtown to Hudson’s, Greektown, church, the theater, etc. I can say that many memories of that year remain with me. We could get off work around midnight, get rides to go eat somewhere or to the bar. We could sleep in, sun bathe at the pool till 1pm – then go get ready for work. I met many interesting people of all races in my 4 years of living in Detroit. Curing for sick people one leans we’re pretty much all the same beneath our skin – all needing hope and kindness, and equality with each other.
We all left Detroit after that year each going in different directions, one to Europe, two were engaged. We’ve remained friends through the years, getting together for luncheons and phone calls, I am 68 years old now, retired after working 34 years in nursing. I have 3 daughters, one of whom became a nurse, too. I live in Rochester, Michigan and Beverly Beach, Florida in the winter.

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Submitter's Name

Marceline Hartung

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“Marceline Hartung,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed October 1, 2023,

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