In 1950, the City of Detroit’s population was at its highest, with 1,849,568 people, and 83.68 percent were white.
By 1960, the population had dropped to 1,670,144, and it fell each year until it had plummeted to 713,777 in 2010. That year, the black population represented 82.69 percent of Detroit’s residents.
In the 1950s when I was in high school, inner-city Detroit basketball players reflected the population as a whole, and were mainly white.
Those who lived in Detroit’s Jewish neighborhoods were most likely to attend Detroit Central High, Cass Technical High, or Northwestern High. Each year, Jews moved further north, trying to escape the inevitable, and the upstart pink and blue Mumford High became the public school to attend. This was just before the Jewish exodus to the safety of the near suburbs and beyond.
Among those high school basketball players who happen to be Jewish, were the Four Gees. Those of you from the Detroit area were sent an email letter with clues, and now we will make it easier for you by telling a story about each of them.
If you have any recollections of your own, send them our way. The winning entry will receive the admiration of all of the other Detroit-area recipients, along with a special prize — two tickets to the next Saturday matinee at either the Dexter or Avalon movie houses.
THE FOUR GEES
Ralph Goldstein played for Central High, and was a First Team PSL member. He was captain of the University of Detroit Titans in 1955-56. He died on June 30, 1988 at the age of 53.
Jerry Greenberg played for Central High from 1949-1952, and was a Third Team PSL selection in 1952. He was a member of the Wayne University Tartars (now the Warriors), who won 17 and lost only one game in the 1955-56 season. The team made it to the sweet sixteen before losing to the University of Kentucky.
Fred Goldberg was a varsity basketball and baseball player at Northwestern High, and was awarded a scholarship to Detroit Institute of Technology. He became a coach and an athletic director, and died in Arizona.
Walter Godfrey played basketball and baseball for Cass Tech, and was a Second Team All-State basketball selection in 1952. He was a starting guard for Michigan State University from 1954-1956. He was also the starting pitcher on the Spartan's Big 10 championship baseball team in 1954.
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