My Dad & Uncle David's Restaurant, Ritz Drive-In was located at the north end of this block where Fisher Body was located. This car is at the south end of the block. Ritz Drive-In was on the corner of South Saginaw Street and Hemphill Road.

       Flint, Michigan was a booming town in the late fifties and early sixties, before the riots in Detroit, in the 1967.  The BIG THREE were killing it.  American families were living the dream and believe it or not, the Flint Community Schools were a model for districts around the country.  Flint Community School's Director, Frank Manley Sr.'s  model for the school as a pillar of the community for enrichment education for all ages, in conjunction with many quality teachers and administrators who had been attracted to the Flint area from all parts of the country because of good salaries and all else that comes with having a major company, like General Motors, based in your community.  Three shifts of General Motors workers could provide a good living for their families in the Flint area.  Anyone who had a business in the in the vicinity benefitted from what General Motors brought to the Flint Community.  Flint was safe, friendly and quite a melting pot of good people who were drawn to the community for employment in the auto industry or for auxiliary/service industries to supply the needs of such a flourishing community.

I used to love to cuddle with my Dad after my nap either when he came home, or before he took off for the night shift at the restaurant. He and my Uncle David traded shifts every month, each taking their fair share of the 'grave-yard' shift all those years in the restaurant business. 

    Jimmy and David Todorovsky, my Dad & Uncle were no different.  They purchased Ritz Drive-In on Saginaw and Hemphill, right across from the General Motors Plant, where the Sit-down Strike" happened in 1936-37, not long after they arrived in Flint in the late fifties.  Yes, it was a "DRIVE-IN,”  as in the “Happy Days’ sitcom from the seventies, complete with car hops, the waitresses who waited on customers in their cars. Jimmy and David owned it until the late sixties.  My Dad would often remark at what loyal employees and customers he had.  His employees truly were part of the family.  I remember a young cook, Alan Webber who was drafted into the Army and went off to Vietnam.  My parents would pack him a care package every so often.  Alan came back from Vietnam and worked for my Dad and Uncle and I can still remember the cordless mixer he got us as a wedding gift back in 1988.  Alan was a good man and over the years they had other very trustworthy and dependable employees, they were gems and looked out for my Dad and Uncle.  That’s the way it was back then,  it was a community made up mostly of good people with a strong work ethic and moral compass.  Flint, Pontiac, Detroit and Michigan were ‘kicking it'.

My Dad at Ritz Drive-In and then on the right in the kitchen at Atlas Coney Island where he finished his career in the restaurant business in Flint, Michigan🌭

     Ritz Drive-In was well-known at the south end of Flint and customers knew Jimmy and David.  The burgers and hot dogs were good, breakfast was served all day and the pies, from the Flint Pie Company were out of this world, my favorites  were the coconut and banana cream.  My Mom met my Dad when she came up to visit her uncle and aunt from North Carolina.  Her Uncle Roy took her to Ritz Drive-In for a famous Coney Island.  Uncle Roy introduced her to one of the owners, my Dad.  My Mom didn’t go back home that summer after  graduation,  becoming a waitress at Ritz Drive-In, forgoing the interview at the doctor’s office for a front desk gal she had applied for as well.

    My parents were married in 1962, and a few years after that, a woman drove up to the drive-in to order coffee on a chilly November day.  Not many people utilized the drive in during the cold months, but when they did, a car hop would venture out to take their order.  If you have been to a drive in or remember from back then, the car hop would take the order, bring a tray to clip to the window/door and then when the order was ready, the food would be delivered and placed on the tray.  That’s exactly what happened that November day at Ritz Drive-In.  The female customer ordered coffee only.  The waitress went and got the tray and placed it on her window/door, as she couldn’t do that with coffee in her hand and then brought it out and placed the hot coffee on the tray on that chilly November day.  When the woman was done, she put the ceramic cup back on the tray, the car hop collected the tray and cup, the customer paid and departed.

    A few weeks later, Ritz Drive-In receives a letter that a customer burned their hand on hot coffee as it spilled on her and she has since lost the use of her hand, and Ritz Drive-In has a law suit filed against them based on their "negligence." My Dad and Uncle were surprised and caught off guard. They then turned the letter over to their attorney to handle.  They did not know about the incident. Of course, businesses have insurance for such instances and as time went on, their attorney spoke with the woman’s attorney.  The insurance cover all of the damages, a quite substantial amount, except for $7,000.  My Dad went to the lawyers office to sign the papers after they had agreed on the amount.  He was bothered by the entire incident.  He knew that neither the Ritz Drive-In nor the car hop had done anything wrong and he thought it was strange that the woman would come to the drive-up on a cold November day and order coffee only.  The woman had claimed that she lost the use of her left hand, the hand closest to the door/window where the coffee was on the tray, as she was the driver.  Both the woman and my Dad had to sign.  My Dad signed and after he signed the woman signed her name on the papers using her left hand, the had she supposedly had lost use of.  My Dad was furious!  He pointed it out to his lawyer, probably saying something like, “You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!” And his layer told him to just let it go.  It had all gone on long enough, it had caused a lot of stress, and he just should just let it go.  My Dad was a young man, he didn’t have complete command of the language yet, or the laws of the land and he entrusted his attorney, who was sort of like a fatherly figure to my Dad & Uncle after their Dad, John, passed away, so he dropped it.  About six months later the woman’s son died and then a few months after that, the woman died of cancer, not exactly sure of the order, but both the woman and her son died within two years of the lawsuit.  Again, my Dad probably said, “You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!”

    I was a very small child when all this was going on.  I remember none on it.  However, my Dad told this story frequently as I was growing  up.  It really did bother him.  He always ended the telling the story with the saying, “What goes around, comes around.  You ALWAYS do the right thing.  You NEVER take advantage of anyone and you ALWAYS tell the truth.”  $7,000 is a lot of money now and it was a heck of a lot of money then.  $7,000 beyond the big sum their insurance covered.  Frivolous lawsuits were not heard of back then.  Life was different then.  People didn’t lock their doors, across the population, most people had good morals and high standards.  Families  had dinner together, they went to Temple/Church and people knew their neighbors.  It was a shock to my Dad that someone would pull something so stupid.  As my Dad would tell the story he would describe how he answered his attorney when he told my Dad what was going on, “You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!”  My Dad would also tell us about the tragedy the woman and her family experienced following the incident.  Who knows why she got cancer or why her son was involved in a fatal accident.  But he always tied together the two and it made an impact on him.  My Dad always had a good sense of fairness.  He was the type of guy who would rather himself get the short end of the stick than anyone else.  He never wanted to cheat anyone and the stories he told me growing up reflected his values as well as what I observed when I worked at the restaurant growing up.

     We see so many people in the news who seam to get away with bad behavior over and over.  Not just criminals who many times, right now, seem to pay no consequences for stealing, fighting with a police officer or a variety of other offenses, but from people who KNOW better, from the top on down.  Is it greed, is it “they can get away with it” or is it for power?  Some are willing to lie, cheat and steel to get what they want.  We listen, read and watch many times (but not all, see below) as this bad behavior goes unchecked or accounted for and it all leads me to say, “You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!”

Last week, this man walked into a 7-11 vin Stockton California and very arogantly pushed a garbage can as he put numberous item in it to steal them. As he did, he told the owner that he could get by with this, "insurance will cover this loss" there no problem with me doing this. Not long after that, a co-worker took hold of the theif and the owner found a broom handle to hit him with numerous times on his lower body. Interestingly, in India, if this their had chosen to do this, this would have been his fate. Unfortunately, some store owners here is the US feel their hands are tied as law enforcment has limited options and criminals are often out on the streets with limited or no bond. This is what happens when small business owners feel alone in protecting their property.

    This topic has weighed on my mind for a while.  Almost every week we see someone getting by with bad behavior anyone else would be hauled off to jail/prison for, pay a huge fine  for or be sued.  When I think about it more closely, I think about all the consequences people pay for their behavior, both good and bad.  There are consequences  for everything in life, especially for the choices we make.  I heard someone recently say, I wish I could remember who because the words stuck with me, “You choose the behavior, you choose the consequences.”  If I choose to drink too much at a party and I decide to get behind the wheel of a car and get pulled over and get carted off to jail for being intoxicated behind the wheel, it’s on me.  I made a bad choice, knowing very well that it could have resulted in the loss of my life or others on the road.  It will cost me a good amount of money to hire an attorney for my bad choice and I could even loose the ability to drive for a while.  I run that risk if I choose that behavior.  If it did happen to me and I had to experience all of that, hopefully there is no accident and no one is harmed, and most likely, I would learn from such a bad experience that no waaaaaay  would I want to drive intoxicated  again.  On the other hand, if I kept getting by with my bad behavior and I didn’t pay any penalty for breaking the law, I would keep doing it and never learn from it until someone got hurt (or killed) or I got caught.

    Sometimes when we do things that are wrong we DO pay the price. For example, you don’t study for the test, you can fail the test, or you do poorly in the class.  You don’t pay your electrical bill and your power is turned off, you don’t pay your rent or mortgage and you loose your house.  These are the prices we pay for not doing what we are supposed to do.  These are actions that actually affect to us.

Marcia Brady during a scene from the episode of "The Brady Bunch" when she starred in the school play "Romeo and Juliet" and she treated her co-star with such disrespect.

     Other times, there are non-tangible things that happen.  Think of the person who chews out their server at the restaurant or misbehaves because they are intoxicated and they make a fool of themself in front of an entire room of people.  That offender may not have broken a law but think of the repercussions of their actions.  Do you think they’ll get invited to the next party in town?  Do you think they’ll be welcome back to that establishment again?  How do you think people will react when they see them out in public?  Might they turn and walk the other way?  How will their actions affect their family members if they have any?  Will their children pay the price for their bad behavior?  Think about the people we see or read about in the news who have gotten away with unlawful or just poor behavior year after year because of their connections and who they know.  NO ONE ever benefits from getting away with ‘stuff.’  Remember Marcia Brady in the episode of THE BRADY BUNCH, when she looses the lead role of Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet,” because of her arrogant attitude towards her co-star, not heeding the warning of her parents, teacher and siblings, so she is left to learn the  hard way, publicly, loosing the part to an understudy, when she could have learned it at home.  Kids who get by with poor behavior that is unchecked, go to school and are a problem for the teacher, and then they go out into the world and are a problem for society.  If someone in a marriage gets by with walking all over the other person year after year and the spouse doesn’t put their foot down, that behavior doesn’t just stay at home, it follows that person to the workplace, the store, to every social situation and sooner or later there is a trail of damage done and the offenses and behavior gets worse and worse, not  to mention what it does to their spouse and children if there are any in the home.  Many people who act like this end up failing at relationships both personal and professional.  No one does anyone a favor when they let someone by with this and don’t put their foot down, acknowledge what’s going on or call the offender on their disrespectful behavior.  Sometimes confronting these people in life is not the best thing to do ourselves, though, for a variety of reasons like, they won’t welcome the constructive criticism, they will turn the tables on you and all of a sudden, when you were trying to help them and now YOU are the bad guy.  In those situations, it’s best just to move on, get some help, cut your losses and let them learn from someone else or some other way.  Unfortunately,  those people might have to learn a very painful lesson the hard way.

     Back to the gal with the coffee at Ritz Drive-In on that chilly November day in Flint who went on to claim that she lost the use of of her hand, but was able to  sign very legibly her name on a settlement.  I am sad for her that she experienced so much hardship those two years after the incident. But  for the lessons my Dad taught me from that very memorable event, I am grateful.  I’ve not always made the right choices, but when I fell short, looking at how the choices I made contributed to the consequences I experienced, was the silver lining in unfortunate events.   After all of that my Dad experienced at Ritz Drive-In, he was not easily surprised when “Stupid” stuff happened.  He might still have said, "You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!” but observed, as time went on, how as a society it became more of a “anything goes” culture. Jimmy Todorovsky  was always aware, yet alway hopeful that there’d be a silver lining in every unfortunate situation and he taught this teacher to look for the lesson in everything…

I miss Jimmy Todorovsky…

It’s a Great Day ❤️