Wednesday, May 30, 2007
May 30 -- Detroit to Sandusky
They say, "Always leave them wanting more." And that's where we were with Detroit today. We drove by the Ford plant near Greenfield Village, but there just wasn't enough time to take the tour. They bill it as very entertaining with no free samples at the end.
Our adventures actually started before we got into the car today. We met a lady at breakfast who kept talking to us about the area and things to do and see. As we started to our room, she followed us. She then told us she needed money for her medicine and offered to sell us her sterling silver ring for $10. We hesitated, but then decided we had given more then that to beggars so Joann is now wearing a big, heavy silver ring, which is probably hot. If her finger turns green, we'll just pitch it.
We checked out of the hotel almost immediately and drove out to see the Grosse Pointe mansions. On the way we stopped at a couple of old Mansions that are not really on tour for the public. The first picture is of the Col. Frank Hecker house. Hecker established the Peninsula Car Company and was one of the first Commissioners of the Panama Canal. It is currently used as a law office. It's a perfect example of how the city grew up around some of these beautiful old home. The next house is the Fisher Mansion. (Ever hear of "Body by Fisher"? Well, this is his home.) Fisher was a bachelor who presumably gave some great parties. In addition to his executive position in the Fisher Body Company, he was president of Cadillac from 1925 to 1934. It is said that when he was going out for the evening he would call the Cadillac plant and have a car delivered that matched his attire. Even though the house has 22,000 sq ft, it only has two bedrooms. The house was bought by one of Henry Ford's great grandsons in 1975 who proceeded to renovate the house to its former glory and then give it to the Hare Krishna. His daughter is a member of the Hare Krishna and lives in a nearby small house with her husband and two children.
The next two houses are examples of "everyday" houses in Grosse Pointe. The biggest houses--even bigger then these--were along Lake Shore Drive, but we couldn't stop to take pictures.
We then stopped and toured the Edsel Ford home on Lake Shore Drive. (This is the English style mansion with ivy in the pics.) Edsel, the only child of Henry and Clara Ford, died in 1943 at the young age of 49. His widow continued living in the house until she died in 1976 at the age of 80. Her will created a trust and she put the house and all its furnishings in the trust for the enjoyment of the public. As you can imagine, money can buy anything material and the house lived up to all our expectations. And we had a private tour since we were the only ones there so early in the morning. Many of the rooms were paneled with the interiors from English homes, including the grand stair case. The next picture of the small house was the playhouse Grandma Clara gave to her only granddaughter, Josephine, on her 7th birthday. What else do you give a little girl that has everything. The house is fully furnished, complete with Bavarian china, and a docent takes you through. The furniture is on a child's scale and adults have to duck to get in the doors. Our final stop on the estate (sorry, no pics allowed) was the garage, which houses two cars: Mr. Ford's 1941 Lincoln Continental dream car and Mrs. Ford's 1952 Lincoln Town Car, which she designed to have a higher roof to accommodate her hats. She rode in the Town Car from '52 to her death in '76. She never drove, she was always chauffeured.
The last house is the Henry Ford mansion, Fair Lane. Henry Ford's will left the house, several hundred acres, and $6 million to the University of Michigan, Dearborn. Unfortunately, the furnishings were not included and the grandchildren sold off most of the personal items. This made us appreciate what Mrs. Edsel Ford did by including all her furnishings in the trust. Henry Ford's house is about 38,000 sq ft versus Edsel's at 33,000. Henry's had a bowling alley and indoor pool, although the pool has been filled in and the room turned into a cafe.
By the time we had finished both tours and had lunch, it was about 3:00 pm and we started driving towards Virginia. It started lightning and raining after we got on the Ohio Turnpike, so we stopped near Sandusky, OH, for the night. We should be able to easily complete the last 400+ miles tomorrow, meaning we will get to sleep in our own bed tomorrow night. Look forward to seeing everyone on the Loop tomorrow and our daughters this weekend--if they are available.