Apr 12, 2006

Broken History: Vandals Strike Auto-Lite Memorial

Left: Torn-up paving bricks are strewn over the site; all photos by historymike

(Toledo, OH) The Point Place lighthouse is not the only local monument to suffer the indignity of vandals in recent weeks.

At the memorial for the old Auto-Lite plant display floodlights have been smashed, a brass picket has been ripped from the hands of the brass striker who held it, and trash is strewn about the site.

Scrawled on the remains of the brass picket is the name "Hitler."

Left: The name of a Nazi icon is etched into the brass; click the picture for a larger photo

The plant was the site of the infamous 1934 strike that was instrumental in the rise of the UAW. The picketers were met by some 900 National Guardsmen; two strikers died and over 200 were wounded in the conflict.

The site is littered with trash, and there is evidence that the wall offers a conveniently obscured place for people to drink and get high; of course, given the amount of broken glass on the site, partiers have to stand to avoid being cut.

I first wrote about this park in a 2003 City Paper article as part of an extended look at the lack of enthusiasm for local history. In the ensuing 3 years the memorial has only suffered further decay and vandalism.

Left: Graffiti adorns the memorial wall, constructed from original Auto-Lite plant bricks.

The park, featuring brass sculptures by Seattle artist Hai Ying Wu, commemorates the strike. Toledo’s monument to the struggle sits as a dilapidated metaphor of the seeming lack of concern by the city for its heritage.


Stephanie said...

Any idea who's doing it?

Lloyd said...


Anchorage Activist said...

If they find the people who did this, they need to sentence them to bust their knuckles repairing the damage as part of the restitution.

You would think that if this is a known hangout for malcontents, the Toledo Police Department would patrol there more frequently, assuming they have sufficient staff to do so.

Newsguy said...

I never knew anything about this memorial or the history behind it, but it infuriates me to learn of this vandalism. Unions have been so marginalized and so crippled by state and federal legislation over the years. And the union movement has been critical in years past in helping build the middle class before being hogtied by the corporations in cooperation with their friends in Congress. Disrespect of unions by individuals is so ignorant. It's the same people who vote, if they vote, against thir own best interests.

Stephanie said...

Unions don't help everybody, newsguy.

-Sepp said...

Probably the same folks that hit the point place lighthouse. A good place for Toledo history is the lucas county library's website. Great pictures in time section. I found my Grandmother's graduation photo from nursing school on there.

liberal_dem said...

Unions don't help everybody, newsguy.

Stephanie- You are obviously young and naive to jump on the anti-union bandwagon. What do you know of the Autolite strike? How familiar are you of the terrible struggles that many Toledo families had to endure to get a decent, living wage because of the stinginess of the owners?

To condemn unions without expending any sweat or blood of your own is specious.

-Sepp said...

LD, she's right, they're not for everybody. Some places need a union to keep management in check. Some unions get greedy themselves and use the workers as extortion pawns to milk more money out of the company since union dues are pay based. Local 500 here in Toledo will be shaken up when all the details come out about the union leadership's hands in the cookie jar.

Timothy said...

Unions are human institutions and subject to the same base human desires that can corrupt any system. To use that excuse to debase them means you might as well do it to any human institution.

As for what the unions have done for us, it can be summed up with one word:


Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

Unions can be good or bad depending on the workplace and workforce (I've preferred my non-union jobs to my union ones), but there's a limit: if their demands push an employer into bankruptcy (which is quite possible if they're competing against imports), that's not exactly helping the workers either.

Anonymous said...

Mike do you think you could post your City paper article that you you mentioned?

historymike said...

TCP's archives are jacked up.

I'll have to re-run it on this site.

Give me a day or two to update it.

Stephanie said...


I don't condemn unions, but I'm not so foolish as to believe they're a "labor problems" cure-all either. Living in a union town myself, I'm all too familiar with their abuses. Power corrupts, and the unions have power.

Hooda Thunkit said...

What a terrible thing to do to such a significant site.

Must have been by people unaware of the history of unions and the collective bargaining process.

That said, I am currently being held back by my union, and would probably be better off without their "help" on this issue.

They have however, helped me once or twice in the past too.