Horay!!! Off to Greenfield Village!!
If you're from Southeast Michigan this place is a right of passage.
If you used to be from Southeast Michigan, and haven't been there in a good 45 years or so, this place is inexplicably high on the wish list of things to do in a short time.
At least it was for me, even if I didn't know it.
For some odd reason (She says it's because she loves me but I grew up with her so naturally I find that a little suspect!!) my sister decided that devoting one full workday to me for kayaking wasn't enough and she took a second day off as well. (Though with her kind of job she never really gets a day off, the work just piles up and waits for her.) When she asked what I'd like to do I blurted out 'You know, I've been thinking about Greenfield Village lately'.
Now you have to understand that Greenfield Village is really one of those kid oriented things, not really proper fare for the discerning and sophisticated adult. (Dang good thing I'm neither!! discerning or sophisticated.)
I'll bet just about every kid within 50 miles of the place has had at least one field trip to the Village, and it's the kind of place, if you're of a certain age, you're sort of obligated to hound your parents into taking you to as a summer outing at least once every few years as well.
And then, once you're a parent in your own right, with children of a certain age, you've probably been guilted into being a 'volunteer' field trip chaperone, or just plain hounded into taking your own spawn a time or two.
But outside that age demographic Greenfield Village is one of those places only thought about when going back through the old photo albums. But here I was, with my AARP card limp with nearly a decade's worth of dog-earidness, my National Parks Gezzer Pass burning brightly in my pocket, taking senior discounts without the least hesitation or reluctance, and all I could think about was Greenfield Village. . .
So off we went, brother and sister, along with mother and niece, and to make it legit, we threw in one 7 year old great-nephew.
Greenfield Village is one part of what is simply called The Henry Ford. (Because everybody automatically knows what that is, right?) A complex of museum, living history park, giant-screen theater and factory tours. This meant that if the weather was crap we could fall back on the museum instead of weathering (Get it? Weathering!) the Village. Though I'm not sure how the token kid would have felt about that!!
But the weather was good, so to the Village we went!
A visionary in more ways than one, Henry Ford preserved much of his childhood home and it's contents and all are now on display in the Village. (OK, I'm not sayin' that I'm in my dotage or anything, but that footwarmer in front of the chair looks like it could be real comfy come winter!!)
Just outside the Ford's storage shed/workshop, this park reinactor was demonstrating Ford's first working engine. Apparently he (Ford, not the reinactor!) carried it into the house Christmas Eve, (Too cold out in the shed he claimed!!) clamped it down over wife Clara's kitchen sink and made her put down the Christmas pies to regulate the fuel; gravity fed through a modified drip-oiler; while he spun the flywheel.
It worked! And, as a bonus, it didn't shake the house apart, or even chip the sink.
OK, I'm pretty sure they didn't have Ipads in the early 1900's, but that didn't stop this reinactor from flipping, really fast, through his while standing in a replica of the first Ford factory. (The 15th million Ford off the line, a Model T, was sitting there off to the left.)
|Those are creases in the photo, not giant cobwebs.|
Greenfield Village is split up into 7 districts, including Main Street where Mrs. Cohen's millinery shop now resides. One of the few 'legit' professions available to single mothers of the time.
There was lots of trying on of hats while we were in here, with some hilarity, along with a couple really nice glamor shots, (My niece is very photogenic.) but I can't really show those here because with the faces blurred beyond recognition then they're just photos of - well - hats.
Along with much of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Complex some other historic industrial age landmarks have been moved to Greenfield Village, including the Wright brother's original cycle shop.
Near the back of the shop was this hand-cranked wind-tunnel. We all chickened out and left the cranking up to 7 year old arms. . . The wing in the tunnel actually flies!! (And the cranker survived. Ahh youth. . .)
But if you're idea of a trip is round (Get it? Round trip, carousel!!) then maybe the 1919 carousel is your thing.
Now days the carousel is sheltered in a fancy, open-sided building,
I got a pair of really excellent shots at the carousel.
One, a study of a 7 year old's bright-eyed anticipation as he hangs onto the pole waiting for the ride to start.
The second of the same subject after the ride is going, now with head down, forehead resting against said pole, arms dangling loosely in abject disappointment as he realizes he wasn't paying attention to the ride operator's warning that the animals with their feet touching the deck don't actually go up and down. . .
But once again, it's all about the expression, which doesn't show when blurred out for privacy. . .
And every self-respecting industrial age historical park has to have a railroad. In this case the roundhouse is a working roundhouse and if you, oh, erm, or rather I mean the kids, time it right, you just might be called on to help turn an engine on the arm-strong turntable. (You line up along that bar sticking out on the near left side and push.)
And where there's trains, there's train rides!! At least here in Greenfield Village.
Along the way the train goes past these old rail cars, but this is not a museum display, these are actually classrooms for a highly accredited, tuition free, college prep high-school!!
Now that's a proper sun-hat!! Beats the heck out of those little visors.
OK, take a mill-pond, add in a pinch of boy, and what do you get?? DistracTION, with a capital D capital TION!!
Around the pond lies the Liberty Crafts district with buildings housing many different crafts and trades of the late 1800's early 1900's life. Pottery, yarn making, weaving, sawmill, machine shop, print shop and more.
All of which are working shops staffed with artisans.
That's one big kiln!! This baby is fired up (wood) a couple times a year when potters from around the country are invited to come and throw their best. I'm not sure if that twist in the chimney is functional or decorative, but it sure is eye-catching.
And while our youngest member had to be coaxed from the delights of water, which he was in danger of falling into a time or two, at least to my inexperienced eye, once in the various workshops I was amazed at how interested he was, pushing his way right to the front and hanging on the reinactor's every word; such as here in the print shop. (OK, so 7 year olds are short. You'll just have to take my word for it that he's standing there near that pole.)
Cowtown, Homestead National Monument, and the Grant County Museum, all excellent stops in their own right.
3: Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual tastes of the pupils
4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evening a week if they go to church regularly.
8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop, will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity, and honesty.
And here in the tin shop where he's going to pop a blood vessel attempting to blow out the candle in this hurricane lamp. (I didn't have to do any fuzzing here, he did that all on his own!!)
before the reinactor points out that the holes are punched from the inside out so the edges of the resulting openings naturally shed the wind.
Another big hit was the glass shop.
I mean what's not to like?? Fire!!
The day we were there a visiting glass artist was producing some sort of exterior building sign/decoration/lighting. (It was loud in there as well as hot so I didn't catch everything that was being said. In fact I didn't catch much of what was being said.)
So I just watched.
And for when you wear out before the kid, which is going to be pretty much all the time as far as I can tell, the Village comes complete with a fancy playground full of all sorts of activities that we never had when I was a kid. At his age I had no idea what this was, but nowadays nobody has to tell a kid what a climbing wall is for. They get it. . .
OK, I probably should have split this up into a part 1 and 2, as it is I've greatly exceeded normal and reasonable post length, so I'm going to just stop here before this monster gets any worse. But there really is much more to see at Greenfield Village if you're ever up that way. (I sense a business opportunity here! Rent A Kid!! for those wanting to look legit when they get a hankering to go to places like the zoo or the Village. . .)