Matilda Haelewyn, August 12th, 2016


Matilda Haelewyn, August 12th, 2016


In this interview, Haelewyn discusses driving on the freeways, going from I-75 to I-94 to get to Grosse Pointe from Waterford. She mentions witnessing shouting, gunfire, fires, and smoke.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Oral History


Narrator/Interviewee's Name

Matilda Haelewyn

Brief Biography

Matilda Haelewyn lived in Grosse Pointe during 1967. She has a husband and four children.

Interviewer's Name

William Winkel

Interview Place

Grosse Pointe, MI



Interview Length



Maddie Dietrich

Transcription Date



WW: Hello, today is August 26, 2016. My name is William Winkel. I’m in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  This interview is for the Detroit Historical Society’s Detroit 67 Oral History Project. And I’m sitting down with Matilda—

MH: Haelewyn.

WW: Haelewyn.  Thank you for sitting down with me today.

MH: And pardon?

WW:  Thank you for sitting down with me today.

MH: You’re welcome.

WW: Would you like to tell me your ’67 story?

MH: Yes.  I and my family, which included my husband and four children, two teenagers, two grade school aged children, and we spent the day in Waterford, Michigan on Lake Elizabeth at my nephew and niece’s home.  Went on their pontoon boat, had dinner there, spent the whole day, didn’t know anything was going on in Detroit.  They had closed the freeway.  We didn’t know that.  At the Waterford area, you could get on the freeway.  There was no problem.  So we got on I-75, we’re heading towards Detroit, transfer over to the I-94 to get home to Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  We’re talking and laughing and not paying too much attention to what’s going on around us.  And all of a sudden, I look around, and I said, ‘You know, I haven’t seen any cars.’  My husband’s looking around and he said, ‘You’re right, I don’t see any cars either.’  As I finish saying this, I look out the side passenger window and there is a army tank or some kind of armored vehicle with two uniformed men with rifles in their hand, looking at us very carefully.  We looked at them, didn’t know what to think.  As we approached the Detroit area, we heard shouting, we heard gunfire, we saw fires, we saw smoke.  We realized something drastic was going on.  With fear, we transferred from the I-75 to the I-94. 

We made it without any incidents.  We made it all the way home to get off at Grosse Pointe.  I approached my neighbor as soon as we got home to ask what was happening.  I was told about the rioting that was going on in Detroit so unbeknownst to us.  We drove through a dangerous area and safely arrived home.

WW: Did you just stay home after that?

MH: Did I what?

WW: Did you just stay home after that?

MH: Yes.

WW: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

MH: You’re welcome.

Original Format



3min 32sec


William Winkel


Matilda Haelewyn


Grosse Pointe, MI




“Matilda Haelewyn, August 12th, 2016,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed April 12, 2024,

Output Formats