Greenfield Village

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Yesterday I had to drive a friend to the airport in the morning, which is actually located in between Detroit and Ann Arbor. Since I had already gone that far, I decided to keep going and visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, a large museum complex founded by Henry Ford in the early half of the 20th century. I had visited the museum half, including the Baseball as America exhibit, a month ago when my parents were in town and decided to purchase a student membership, which comes with free admission and parking and “pays for itself” after two visits.
Of course, since it didn’t cost me anything, I started by zipping through Baseball as America again. This is Cooperstown’s traveling baseball memorabilia exhibit, “a national celebration of America’s romance with baseball.” Included in the collection are a 1909 Honus Wagner card (the most valued baseball card in existence at over a million dollars), the Abner Doubleday baseball, Babe Ruth’s bat, and a bunch of other stuff (including “The Shoebox of Baseball Cards Your Mother Threw Away”).
But I spent the bulk of yesterday exploring Greenfield Village, a 90 acre “town” full of historical buildings, including a working farm, an exact replica of Edison’s Menlo Park (the construction of which was overseen by both Ford and Edison to ensure that it was, in fact, an exact replica), and the actual childhood home and cycle shop of the Wright brothers, which was moved to Dearborn from Dayton, OH. I rode on a Hershel-Spillman carousel — apparently the only kind to include giant frogs (which I, of course, rode on) — and took a tour of the village in a 1921 Model T. The driver and I chatted a bit about cars, and I don’t think I have ever been more relieved to be a Ford driver. I suspect that if I had said I drove a Corolla, he wouldn’t have been as friendly. He was also impressed to hear that I drive a stick shift — “A lady who drives a manual!”
I also had a good long conversation with the presenter at the tinsmith house. I got her to break character a bit and tell me about her job. I was highly impressed that in every house I went to, the presenters were pretty able much able to answer whatever obscure question I answered. According to the “tin smith,” when they’re hired, they’re given a large binder for each house and/or “district” full of information. They’re told to read it and know it, and most of them do so during the slow periods of the day. A lot of the employees are also retirees who are just looking for entertaining and useful ways to spend their time, so apparently, depending on the era, some of them just know things because it was something that came up in their own lives. The Model-T drivers, for example, are almost entirely ex-Ford engineers who actually spent the bulk of their lives working with and designing cars and trucks.
All and all, it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. On return trips, I’ll want to catch a Nationals/Lah-Di-Dahs game and take a ride in the steam engine locomotive that circles the village.

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One response »

  1. Thats really interesting. I went there in 3rd grade, but it was a horribly rainy day, so we didn’t really spend a lot of time there.

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