Saturday, April 20, 2013

Opening Day at Greenfield Village

Closed since the last evening of the wonderful Holiday Nights at end of December, Greenfield Village reopened its gates on April 15, and it was like a "Welcome Home" celebration for so many of us. As annual paying members of the Village, we frequent the place quite often (this cannot be a surprise for my readers!) for a variety of reasons:
~just to be in the midst of all that history
~seeing our presenter friends after nearly a half year
~a place to walk and clear one's head
~and so many photo opportunities - - - - - - 
I have cited every one of the above reasons for visiting quite often, by the way.
But another, um, excuse for visiting as often as I do is seeing the way history is presented seasonally.
For instance:
spring - plowing, harrowing, planting, and cleaning
summer - harvest, candle making, 4th of July celebrations, and period baseball
autumn - harvest and storage of food, wool spinning & dyeing, and winter preparations
Christmas - period decorating, music, nighttime homes lit by candle & oil light, food, and general festivities
(They used to be open during the daytime during December, but that ended a few years ago. Click HERE to read about that)
And, of course, the types of food they ate seasonally.
The only season the average visitor is not able to enjoy in Greenfield Village is winter. We used to many years ago. But they now shut down for the first four and a half months of the year, and so those of us who love "seasonal history" in this part of the country either have to travel to some place like Old Sturbridge Village (Massachusetts is quite a ways to travel for us in Michigan) or just read about old time winter activities.
I personally would love to see maple sugaring, for instance. It would also be neat to see everyday winter life at the 1760's Daggett home and the wintertime farm preparations at the 1880's Firestone Farm. And how cool would it be to take a horse and sleigh ride throughout the Village? - now that's something that one rarely sees or experiences in our modern age.
They wouldn't have to be open all week long, but maybe only from Friday to Sunday - special themed weekends, even once or twice a month from January through March - and then re-open per normal in April.
Ahhh...but I suppose that's just a pipe dream I have. Maybe one day...
Anyhow, due to the fact that they are closed for so long, Opening Day is cause for celebration for us history buffs. Yeah, let the media clamor over the Detroit Tigers' opening day; million dollar sports stars ain't got nothing on our country's past!
On this April 15th here in 2013 we had sunshine and beautiful 60+ degree weather for our excursion. Yes, a number of us accented our visit by dressing, as we've done often before, in our period clothing, which was a hit amongst our presenter friends and many of the other visitors.
I had my ever-present camera with me and took plenty of photographs of our fine day.
Here, please allow me to show you:
Not everyone in our group dressed in period clothing: my daughter-in-law and my daughter did not on this day. But they did enjoy petting the cows at Firestone Farm!

Preparing the land for planting by plowing and harrowing in an 1880's manner was beginning to take place at Firestone Farm

My friend Lynn and I enjoyed a few minutes relaxing in the Firestone's sitting room.

The Firestone ladies were busy cooking dinner for all of the family and farm hands

Being that this was Monday - wash day - Jill ensured the fire would be good and hot to heat the water so the day's laundry chore could be done.

Doug did a fine job shining up the buggy. He's brand new to the Village and has taken his job working as a farmer at Firestone to heart.

"Hey! If you want to have some cake you better get out of your fancy duds and finish your chores!"

"Yes, mother!"

Our next stop was the Ford Farm - the birthplace of Henry Ford.

It was good to see more of our presenter friends inside the Ford home.

The edge of town can be seen from the window of the Ford Home; you can make out the front of the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop building. Of course, these structures were originally hundreds of miles from each other back in the old days. The continental shift brought them together inside Greenfield Village. Either that or Henry Ford might have had something to do with it!

This is how Rebecca sees herself upon looking in the magic mirror while shopping in Mrs. Cohen's Millinery Shop.
My daughter-in-law could not find any ipods, cell phones, or other electronic devices at all inside JR Jones General Store. She just wasn't sure what was going on! She just wasn't sure about life in the 19th century.
Miss Rebecca and I awaited for our group to be called in to eat.

Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Lum were not sure just what to order from the menu of the Eagle Tavern. The rabbit certainly sounded enticing, however!

Those of us that had dressed in our period finest gathered at one table for a photograph (Mrs. Lum had left by then, unfortunately, and was not in this picture). Though most of us wore the styles from the 1860's, Mrs. Dye (in the center) wore clothing from the 1880's.
Mrs. Dye, in her 1880's finest, asked the barkeep for a temperance drink, I'm certain!

After our dinner at the Eagle Tavern, Mr. Dye and I awaited outside on this spring day and compared his time in the 1880's with my rime in the 1860's. (photo by Lynn Anderson)

A 1760's treat awaited us at the Daggett farm: dried apple pie!

Now that's a pile of wood that IS a pile of wood! The Daggetts sure know how to stack 'em!
  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Being associated with Greenfield Village, and history in general, is something I take great pride in. And in that summer's issue (June 2013) of Early American Life magazine I accomplished both; Tess Rosch, the author of an excellent article about the average height of our 18th and 19th century ancestors, needed a photograph to accent her story. While reading one of my blog postings she came across a picture she thought would work well.
Here you go - my passion for history, Greenfield Village, and even my love of photography all rolled into one!

This was a photo that I took of Larissa and another Daggett Farm worker a couple of years ago. I told her to portray a nagging wife while I took the picture. You can barely read my name as credit on the right side of my photo
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I hope you enjoyed this posting on a special day for fans of history in the general metro-Detroit area. The reenacting season is nigh and dressing in period clothing on Greenfield Village's opening day was just a preliminary to what's ahead.
I can't wait!



Christine said...

This post leaves me longing to visit the village again. They do it so well there.

Debra said...

I love your blog- everything is so authentic!!

GinaBVictorian said...

Oh I love it all Ken! That's so neat that you have a place like that to basically call your own. I would have to say that that wood pile is one heck of a wood pile! I'll have to show my hubby, who is our official fire wood go getter, hauler and stacker!
Thanks for sharing and have a great week! Gina