John McCandless


John McCandless


John McCandless worked on Twelfth Street in the summer of 1966. In the summer of 1967 he was in Rhode Island and came back to find everything had changed.


Detroit Historical Society




Detroit Historical Society, Detroit, MI






Written story


In the summer of 1966, my summer job was picking up and delivering dry cleaning for Famous Cleaners, which had retail shops around the city, their laundry and dry cleaning plant down in the mid-town area. I had the only wholesale route, which included about nine pawn shops, a few tailor shops and Metropolitan Uniform, across from Police Headquarters. Three of the pawn shops were on 12th street: 12th Street Loan, U.S.Loan and a smaller third one whose name I've forgotten. 12th Street Loan and US Loan were by far my largest customers. I used to pick up and deliver more than 100 suits each day from each of these two stores. Interesting work for a young Michigan State University student from Grosse Pointe.

Male customers would pawn their suits for $5, I believe. The pawn brokers would require them to have the suit cleaned and pressed and charge them a buck to two for this service. Most customers took their clothes out of pawn, so in all it saved them a trip to the cleaners.

In the summer of 1967, I was at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island for my first nine weeks of training. I didn't even hear about the riot until Tuesday, mid-day. Considering that they started in the early hours of Sunday morning gives you an idea of how busy they kept us at Newport.

My mother was a probation office at Recorders' Court, so I was concerned for her safety. I wasn't able to call her until late that evening. She told me that she was going through the road blocks every day and that the city was in very bad shape.

When I returned from OCS later in August, I drove down to 12th Street. There was no U.S. Loan, there was no 12th Street Loan, there was no 12th Street.

Original Format


Submitter's Name

John McCandless

Submission Date





“John McCandless,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed October 1, 2023,

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