Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ford Presidential Museum, Chapter Meeting and Blanchard House

Internet access using my Droid smartphone with 4G service has been spotty for the past few days, for no apparent reason. A strong 4G signal is shown on the phone. FoxFi starts and runs successfully. Sometimes we could get online, others times we couldn’t. I rebooted the phone several times, reset the data roaming, restarted my computer, fussed and fumed, but nothing provided a stable connection. Email messages would arrive, and by the time I wrote an answer and clicked “send” the connection would be lost. Grrrrrr!

But now we have moved to the Leisure Lakes Resort in Joliet, Illinois, and are connected to their Wi-Fi. So it’s time to catch up on my blog. (Later – still having problems even with the park’s Wi-Fi; re-booted my computer AGAIN – maybe that will do the trick.)

Jan, Bill, Don and I drove to Grand Rapids (about 35 miles away) on Friday to visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. We initially thought we were going to the Presidential Library, but realized that it’s located in Ann Arbor, about 90 miles in the opposite direction from Ionia. It turns out that we probably enjoyed the museum more than we would have the library, anyway. The architecture of the building gave a good first impression, overlooking the beautiful Grand River, with an unusual fountain in front.


The river runs through downtown Grand Rapids and a riverside park invites people to enjoy the ambience.


One of the first things we learned is that Jerry Ford was adopted by his stepfather. He was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., the son of Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner King, on July 14, 1913. The parents separated two weeks later and were divorced later that year. When Dorothy King married Gerald R. Ford in Grand Rapids, they began calling her son Gerald R. Ford, Jr. and in 1935 changed his name officially. The Museum was celebrating the 100th year since the President’s birth with an exhibit called “Growing up Grand, Gerald Ford at 100.”


Be sure to read Jan’s blog on our visit to the Museum for more details on the exhibits, and check out Don’s chopstick demo!

On Saturday morning we had a great, cooked-to-order breakfast prepared and served by members of Chapter 6. Great eggs, pancakes and sausage, all for $2.50/person.


And over $140 profit was donated to Escapees CARE! Now you know how much profit is being made by your favorite breakfast restaurant!


Afterward, the annual business meeting was held, with an election of new officers. Don presented certificates of appreciation to the previous officers, and I installed the newly elected ones. (Jan’s blog of the day has pictures of this process.)

Then we all gathered at the historic Blanchard House for a tour. Note that there are two front doors, one where the cutout of a Victorian lady is standing (used by John Blanchard’s law clients, to enter his office directly) and the main one, which leads into a beautiful central hall.


There’s an interesting story about this place being called a “Pig’s Sty” and Jan tells the story well. She posted one variegated sandstone brick with a pig’s face on it; here’s the other one (pointed out by our guide).


Jan posted a picture of the Historical Site Marker in the front yard. Here’s the other side of it, for the rest of the story.


The beautiful entry hall leads to a sweeping staircase adorned with this Interesting Oriental lamp.


Furnishings are all from the period (1880’s), with a few pieces that were owned by the Blanchards. This organ still plays beautifully, but none of us were musicians.


We saw gorgeous fireplaces.


And light fixtures, converted to electricity but still sporting the valve handles for turning on the gas.


Heavy pocket doors with ornate hardware.


A sunny, enclosed veranda...


…with curved glass at the corners.


And a drain in the floor in case rain got in while the windows were open.


Many beautiful antiques.


A wreath made of hair.


They even allowed us to go to the third floor, which wasn’t much more than a landing and two huge storage closets, with a ladder to the attic.


On the second floor, we saw the family’s quarters, then went down four steps and up two to the servants’ quarters, lower to signify lower status. Note the carpet vs. hardwood floors, as well.


Plus, an ornate door handle on the family side, and a plain one on the other.


Clothing was ornate, as well, and mostly hand-made, with intricate stitching.


And check out this pair of child’s boots. The guide showing them had been careful to leave the mud on the soles, to show that children were not much different back then – they loved to play in puddles!


There was a lot more to see in the basement, including artifacts and furniture that hadn’t been integrated into the rest of the home, including this wonderful loom. My friend Terry Russell would know just how to operate it, I’m sure!


I spotted this interesting camera, among many others from the past.


I could continue with the house tour, but this blog is already too long. We ended the day with a chili dinner, prepared by the new Chapter President, Mike Foley. He and outgoing President Pat Horwood look on as Kathy Foley sets out more goodies.


It was nice to see our Solo RVing friend Lawrence Johnson, who came for the afternoon and evening.


We celebrated Ed McGill’s birthday (our adoptive Dad).



Then Al Packman and Bruce Ratcliff conducted an auction of items donated for Escapees CARE. A total of $440 was raised and donated on behalf of the chapter.


We enjoyed our experience with this group of friendly people and were invited to return anytime. We’ll see many of them at the annual Escapade next May.

In the meantime, we’re off on another adventure. The sad part is that we headed a different direction than our travel buddies, Bill and Jan Mains, today. It was hard to say goodbye, but in the Hawaii tradition we just said “Aloha” with fond hugs all around. We’ll see them again down the road. Until then, I’ll have to write my blogs more completely!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tour of the Blanchard House, what an amazing and beautiful looking place.

    Looks like another fun get together you're having.


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