"In His Words: the Freeman H. McClintock Story” (Lulu, $30.00) is a fascinating look at the multi-faceted life of one of Lansing’s highly prominent businessmen.
Compiled by his daughter, local historian Mary Jane McClintock Wilson, the entertaining biography initially focuses on his early life and service during World War I.
McClintock was born in 1892 in Laingsburg, a town founded by his great grandfather, Peter Laing. The family moved to a farm in DuPlain Township, then later to a farm outside of St. Johns.
He loved cars at an early age and started working after school and on Saturdays at a local Ford dealership. After graduating from high school in 1911, he got a job with the REO Motor Car Company in Lansing. In 1912 he witnessed the terrible Downey Hotel fire.
After spending some time in Washington and California, McClintock returned to Michigan in 1915, taking automotive classes at the University of Michigan.
He enlisted in the Army in 1917; interesting parts of the narrative include comments taken from postcards and letters that were written home describing his experiences in France.
McClintock worked on maintaining and repairing many vehicles during the war, gaining significant expertise. Eventually he became the officer in charge of the Motor Transport Corps Garage in Paris that serviced numerous cars and trucks, including those of President Wilson and General Pershing.
After the war, McClintock returned to Michigan, spending a couple of years in St. Johns, wheeling and dealing used cars.
He moved to Lansing in 1922; a few years later, he opened a Packard dealership. Other dealers nearby included England-Cook Chevrolet, Lorenz Bros. Buick, and F. J. Blanding Ford.
In 1936, he took on the Cadillac franchise and became one the area’s largest car dealers. McClintock Cadillac’s business growth and successful expansion is detailed, with many local historical references.
After 60 years in the stressful automotive business, McClintock retired, spending more time with his family, dealing in motor boats and serving as a quiet philanthropist.
F.H. McClintock died in 1983; his personal and business records, correspondence and military memorabilia are housed with the Archives of Michigan.
Wilson’s excellent self-published paperback retrospective also includes photographs of her father during World War I and images of different dealership locations.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed
Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on May 10, 2015.