There were other avenues, one of which was her high-school yearbook. A Flint librarian told us that back then she would have attended one of three high schools, and been listed as Marcy somebody-or-other in the freshman class entering the fall of 1965*, when she was 14. That intrigued us enough that in January 2011, we flew to Detroit, rented a car, and drove the 50 miles up to Flint. It was cold, with about a foot of snow on the ground. Before leaving, we’d called the Flint Journal and convinced them to do a story about our search, hoping to reach someone who had known Marcy. We got to Flint on a Friday, and the story was scheduled to run that Sunday.
One of Flint’s misfortunes was to have been the birthplace of Michael Moore, whose documentaries regularly paint it as the unhappiest place to live in America. Beyond a couple of ritzy neighborhoods filled with Tudor mansions, it’s dominated by one-story frame bungalows that house the former work force from the abandoned Chevrolet and Buick plants. Aside from unemployment numbers, bad news in Flint comes in the form of arson and violent crime. The city averages 300 to 400 fires a year. And as Dan and I drove around, we saw plywood signs nailed up on trees saying things like, “No Hoes Allowed. Children At Play.”
At the Flint Central Library, the yearbook gambit also proved a dead end. No Marcys in the 1965* books, or the classes on either side. “Marcy,” we figured, could well be a nickname for Marsha, Martha, Marjorie, Margaret, or Mary. It seemed hopeless. We also tried checking the “Marcy” birth announcements that the Flint Journal used to run in the ’40s and ’50s. No luck.
We ended Friday in low spirits.
Saturday morning, we were back at the library. I was up in the microfilm room, and Dan was downstairs at a table poring over more yearbooks, when a presence loomed in his peripheral vision. He looked up to see this aging biker dude with a gray ponytail, his wallet secured to his blue jeans by a chain. “You the guys looking for Marcy?” he asked in a challenging voice. He’d seen the story in the Sunday issue of the Journal, which had appeared online that day, ahead of schedule. “I knew her back in the ’60s. Her real name is Margaret. The last name is *Bachmann.”
“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute,” Dan sputtered. “Wait, wait.” He said he needed to get his camera operational, go find Bruce. No, the biker said he wasn’t going to wait.
“Well, what’s your name?” Dan asked.
“Call me ‘Moon,’ ” he said.
“Is that your name?”
“No, but you can call me Moon.” Moon then spun on his heel and walked out of the library.
From then forward, our search unfolded in a rush. Through the obit registry at the Journal, we found Marcy’s father and mother, Reinhold and Edith Bachmann, who had died in the ’90s. The old man had run a hobby shop in downtown Flint, The Hobby House. The family had lived in the west end of town. We also learned that Marcy now resided in Hawaii, of all places, and that she had four children. Via Google satellite, we zeroed in on their house, a big-looking spread outside Waikiki. Could Marcy be a well-off matron? Was a trip to Hawaii in the offing? Piña coladas in a Tiki hut, watching the curlers roll in? We felt like dancing a jig.
There was still daylight left to Saturday, so we drove out to Marcy’s old house to film the street for background, and talk to whoever was now living there. It was a white bungalow, surrounded by a chainlink fence, looking forlorn in the dirty snow.
I went up and knocked on the storm door while Dan shot me from the sidewalk. Deep-throated barking exploded from within the house, and a large-ish, middle-aged woman appeared, shouting at the dogs to stay back. She had glasses and a head of curly brown hair, and was smiling inquisitively. I told her we were looking for someone named Bachmann who had lived at this address a long time ago.
“Well, I’m a Bachmann,” she said.