Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Return Trip

When we first arrived in Michigan, we headed out to Greenfield Village with my brother-in-law's family. We had such a good time that we decided to take a return trip yesterday. The village is a mix of older historic buildings and living history players. The first time we visited we saw many of the older buildings. A few have curators in them who answer questions and provide information about the time and practices. We also rode the carousel, train, Model T's and horse drawn bus due to the generosity of a stranger who gave us their extra wrist passes (these allow unlimited rides throughout the village). This time we ventured out the other direction to the working Victorian farm. 
We arrived right at dinnertime for the family who resides at the farm during the day. Six of them were sitting down to their midday meal. It was a hearty one full of potatoes, canned peaches and a lot of other goodies. It made most of our bellies rumble. The character actors then told us all about their lives, the home and how they lived during this time period. We walked by the hot wood stove on which their meal was made and helped with the pump outside from which they got their water. They talked about the carpet on their floor. It was woven from rags into rugs. These individual rugs were them sewn together to make the flooring.
We asked questions about how the home made its way there from the original site of the Firestone home in Ohio. The older woman told of moving the home brick by brick. She spoke of layers of wallpaper and fun discoveries about the past. Inquiries were made about the basement food storage and washing practices. Another replied with all the items they preserve while the others chimed in with additional information. It was very interesting to hear about their daily lives and the time. They mentioned the social status of the family and that they were not rich, but rather wise about their finances. This acumen allowed them a surplus to save for more lean times and even loan to their neighbors. 
The barn was next on the path. Merino sheep had just been brought into the shelter. Dave remarked about all the potential yarn. He then talked with Benton and Aine about the horns on the rams. We also saw turkeys and chickens in the farmyard, a cow near the barn and beehives in the pasture. Green beans, yellow squash and okra that had just been harvested sat in a basket by the garden. 
From there we walked toward the artisan area to watch potters, weavers, glassblowers, a tinsmith, and a printer. At each stop we were welcomed and told about the industry. Any questions were met with enthusiasm and interest. The kiddos were shown a hurricane lamp and attempted to blow out the candle with no luck. Eamon was able to work the printing press, and each kiddo received a print. We learned about the individual crafts/arts and the artists who made them.
Dave has rejoined us after a month back at work in Arizona, so he shared his memories of his last visit to the Village. He was in first or second grade and had school for the day in the one room schoolhouse. The kiddos thought it was a bit odd. We decided to find it next. As we looked for the school, we walked and talked to other Village employees enjoying a few facts about the Wright Brothers and their ingenuity as we walked through their home and shop. The kiddos ground herbs int he doctor's office and talked to the person there about medicine during that time and the high fees he charged (despite the fact that he never graduated from medical school). We saw another period farmhouse/plantation and talked to the woman there about slavery during the time period. 
The park was closing, and we still hadn't found the right schoolhouse. As we walked back to the entrance I remembered the big schoolhouse we saw the first time we came. We were going to walk right past it. It was the one. Dave and the kiddos looked in the windows. He recalled the wooden seats and floors. He told the kiddos a few more memories of that visit as we ambled toward the gates. We again closed the place down staying well after everyone else.
The weather was beautiful and the company was perfect. We were again joined by my brother-in-law's family and the addition of Dave could not have been better. I think though we may need to go again. We still have a few things to explore.


  1. what a great place. sounds like such an amazing, fun day. i love places like that, strawberry bank was sort of like that.

  2. I still remember visiting a similar place as a kid. I loved it so much!

  3. I am envious of those long sleeved shirts and pants. Will be 100 today here. What a great weekend adventure.

  4. The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are absolutely amazing. Chase's class will spend an overnight there this school year. Steve's dad used to work in the tinsmith and cooper's shop (before they took it down).

    Did you all get into the museum, too? Chase loves the Rosa Parks bus.