American Morning

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July 8th, 2009
08:05 AM ET

2009: A different kind of Gary

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="(Getty Images) The marquee at the decaying Palace Theater advertises the Jackson Five July 7, 2009 in Gary, Indiana."]

By Stephen Samaniego – Producer, CNN's American Morning

After spending a few days in Gary, Indiana one thing is clear:  this is not the same town Michael Jackson grew up in. When Michael was born back in 1958, Gary was a thriving steel town with a population of almost 180,000 people.

When I was speaking with Gladys Johnson, the former principal of Garnett Elementary School where Michael attended, she spoke of a place where new schools were being constructed, people were buying land and building new homes, and people had good paying jobs that afforded them a decent life.

Today, things are different. Jackson’s elementary school has been torn down, most of the houses built are now crumbling and the unemployment rate is in the double digits.

Driving through the streets of Gary, I could see the shell of what it once was. Gordon Keith, the former owner of Steeltown Records, told me about the exploding music scene that Gary hosted. While driving around with Gordon, he would point out an abandoned building, a pile of rubble or even an empty lot that used to be a music club or watering hole that would showcase local talent.

I stopped by Mr. Lucky's, the bar where the Jackson Five performed when they first formed. It was shuttered and appeared to have bullet holes through the front door and part of the roof had collapsed into the front of the former bar.

It is clear that Gary, Indiana has seen better days but the people that remember its glory days are still there and remember what it used to be.

Filed under: American Morning • Entertainment
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. pkp161

    It is sad that Gary's economy is in poor shape the state should def do more to help the people of that community. MJ is a legend and the Jackson 5 was also and still here RIP MJ KING OF POP

    July 8, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  2. Gilbert (The SolSense)

    “Time to move On”
    The King of Pop has died but his music has reborn.
    He was a very special talented man with a very special gift.
    He, as well as many other celebrities that are gone or are still here could’ve done or can do more to help others. But I guess with the extravagant and wasteful life they live, they can only do so much.
    There is a message behind every death and we still don’t get it.
    I guess we need to simplify and pray more to understand.
    “Let’s move on, there’s still a lot to do.”

    July 8, 2009 at 10:38 am |