Like many workers of Woodbridge, Shane O’Guin has been in the area his entire life and has seen it change drastically over the last few decades. Growing up in Midtown and working in Woodbridge for over twenty years, Shane has had a front row seat.
LIW: Talk about how you started doing work in this area?
SO: I did jobs for Larry several years ago, but basically pretty steady for the last three years. I’ve been in this area for a long time — most of my life. I’m 58 years-old.
LIW: So you grew up in the city?
SO: Yep. I grew up on the other side of the Lodge Freeway, over by Prentis and Second. I watched them build most of Wayne State.
My mother was from Canada and my dad was from down south. I don’t know how the Irish fits in there — it’s in my father’s side; I’m sure of that. He was a union house painter. He used to take me on jobs during summer vacation and stuff like that. I was probably fourteen or fifteen then.
LIW: Painting is something your family has done for a long time?
SO: Not so much as painting. My dad worked for Cadillac before he went into the Navy. When he came out of the Navy he worked for a friend, painting. Basically all I’ve done is been in the trades — painting and drywall. I’ve done drywall for drywall companies, United Airlines at Metropolitan Airport and little bit, not much, in that new science center when they opened that up.
LIW: You grew up in Midtown. Talk about what that was like when you were a kid.
SO: It’s been through a lot of changes. I remember it being nice, and then things going downhill. Prentis Street, where I grew up used to have nothing but trees — Dutch Elm trees. They were all up and down Prentis Street. Wayne was just closing in on Warren Avenue at that time. In the late 70s and 80s, there was a lot of no good going on in that neighborhood. Lots of drugs over there. But now it’s — they shut down the Beethoven and got rid of all the people in there, fixed that up.
LIW: And you live here now?
SO: No. I used to live on 4848 Commonwealth — close to five years ago. I moved from there over to Willis, off of Second.
LIW: You work for Woodbridge Company, and do you do work for others around the area?
SO: I try to stay in this area but I’ve done work for several different homeowners in Woodbridge. Mostly I’m by myself. When you’re doing painting and drywall, you’re better off if you’re the only one in the unit. Today I’m just putting some paper down on the floor.
LIW: What do you do when you’re not working around here?
SO: I go bike-riding, kayaking out in Milford. Right below the dam they got a nice little stretch — I think it’s the Huron River.
LIW: There are still a few pockets in Woodbridge that are left behind. How long before those are filled up?
SO: Hard to say. I wouldn’t think too long. Some houses that I thought would be torn down, there’s people living in them again. Like, right down at the end of Commonwealth. One block right before I-94, there’s a couple of apartment buildings — I never thought they’d redo those buildings. Several years ago, they brought them back.
LIW: You’ve worked here for more than twenty years. How has it changed?
SO: Well, a lot of the riff-raff has died out. You don’t have to look over your shoulder so much anymore. It’s turning into a better area. People are more concerned with their property. People are looking out for their neighbor. Before, people just didn’t care. If you saw something happen, most people would just turn and look the other way. A lot of that’s changed.
They’re investing a lot of money in this neighborhood — here in Woodbridge and on the other side of the Lodge Freeway.
Larry takes really good care of his property. He fixes ’em up. I’ve done work for other people and they’ve told me “Tell Larry we said thank you.” I think Larry’s a pretty good person for this community — this area here. He’s always treated me with respect — fair. I think the people who rent from him get what they pay for if not more. I’ve know companies that own places, and some of them don’t even want to look at it. I think there’s not one place Larry owns that he wouldn’t live in himself.
Contact Shane for painting or drywall work at: (313) 460-1956