Henry Ford, besides all the other stuff you know about him, was totally batshit crazy. Here’s how I know: I have been to Greenfield Village.
Greenfield Village is part of the Henry Ford (that’s a lowercase t, and it’s part of the name on all the official signage), an entire campus in Dearborn, MI dedicated to Ford’s legacy, and we visited there yesterday with Jeremy, Catherine, and Floyd.
Picture yourself at one of those historical re-enactment villages, like Plymouth Plantation or Old Sturbridge Village. People in costumes, old houses, historical craft demonstrations. Now, imagine that instead of one coherent time period, the costumed interpreters are from a random assortment of eras. Piano-playing Ragtimers in ’20s getups, an 1867-style baseball team, farm women of the 1850s, police officers from 1900.
Instead of a recreated village, Henry Ford went about the country collecting up the actual homes of random famous people. He dug them up and put them on a truck and brought them to Greenfield Village. So, there’s the actual childhood home and bicycle shop of the Wright Brothers, and down the street, there’s the actual home in which Noah Webster wrote the dictionary. There’s Abraham Lincoln’s law office and Thomas Edison’s laboratory. There’s a cottage Ford physically relocated from the Cotswolds. In England.
Now, send some vintage Model T cars racing around the streets, add a frozen custard stand, a 1919 carousel, a glass-blowing demonstration, and a barn full of sheep, and you’ve got a recipe for hilarity.
(Our friend Catherine, who grew up in Dearborn, used to wait tables – in costume – at the village’s 1850s-themed Eagle Tavern. She said the worst/best part was when people would come in and ask for a salad and a diet coke and she’d have to say, “Oh, we don’t serve that in the 1850s! Can I get you a strawberry phosphate with a macaroni straw and a chicken cutlet with walnut ketchup?”)
In the midst of all this craziness, the Greenfield Village Lah-De-Dahs creamed the Carey Cayugas in a friendly game of 1867-rules baseball, we all had some frozen custard,, Floyd got to see a choo-choo train, and Sandy and I enjoyed our second-to-last day of the trip in true Ford style.