Friday, June 21, 2024

Welcome Summer 2024 - The 35th Annual Motor Muster: 20th Century American Culture

It's a sunny day on this Father's Day Saturday here in Motown - Detroitland - with clear skies and temps hovering around the mid-70s...and just outside of the city,  in the suburb of Dearborn,  lies Greenfield Village,  that place of history - that Home to our Heritage - and for this particular weekend we have the wonderful Motor Muster car show.  As I like to say,  "This ain't your daddy's car show."


The 2024 program.
I plainly remember the days when car shows were held in parking lots of bowling alleys,  and sometimes,  if we were lucky,  a classic-style restaurant.   Many still are.  And then the owners of the classic vehicles would sit along side in a lounge chair,  waiting for someone to come up and talk,  hands on hips,  about the motor and what power it may have.
These shows were cool to attend,  but I remember thinking:  if I had a classic car I would really do it up;  I'd dress the part and include accessories and the like to accent the experience!
I suppose that's the living historian in me.
Alas,  I never got a historic car.  But I still enjoy looking at the old rides,  whether they were hot rods or stock.  But I always preferred stock over the rods - again,  the historian in me.
But if I did  get myself a ride...well,  if I did get a historic car,  I'd either get a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe or...a 1955 Chevy Tudor or Belair.  And I would keep whichever I got stock.
Yeah...I'd also get the accessories to set up around the car to add to the ambience.
How cool would that be?
But now there's Motor Muster:  "Kick summer into high gear this Father's Day weekend in Greenfield Village for the 35th anniversary of Motor Muster.  Enjoy one of the country's most exciting historic vehicle shows as it transports you to the golden eras of car culture all weekend long.
Cruise through a diverse collection of vehicles and enjoy rare opportunities to step inside immersive vignettes from five of the American auto industry’s most formative decades:  the lean Depression-era  ’30s and the American home front during World War II to the futuristic ’50s,  revolutionary ’60s,  and bicentennial ’70s,  get a unique perspective on American culture through the lens of what we drove."
This is what makes Motor Muster the best car show around...aside from Old Car Festival  (which takes place in September - same Bat time/same Bat channel/different era of cars).
So...let's check out Motor Muster 2024  - my blog from last year was all scenario photos.  This year I did include a few cars shots  (often taken by other photographers lol):
Mid-to-late 1930s
Presented by Chris Robey
And the jukeboxes across the nation played In The Mood,  Sing Sing Sing,  Begin the Beguine,  God Bless America,  Moonlight Serenade...
1936 Buick Victoria Coupe - just beautiful!
Imagine you are on Gratiot Avenue in your Prius or Versa, 
then I roll up along side of you in this. comparison...all eyes are on my  '36 Buick.
Talk about classy!  Why,  this car's got class it ain't never used yet...just go on and
slink away in your mighty bland 21st century nothing- - - 
At Motor Muster I also witnessed a few vignettes as well...aptly showing 20th century America,  giving the visitor a full visual and interactive realm.
And here at the 1930s Mattox House,  the one-time little-known holiday of Juneteenth is being celebrated by African-Americans.
Or is it Emancipation Day?
Juneteenth,  a federal holiday since 2021,  commemorates the end of slavery in the United States,  for it marks the day the last African American slaves were notified that they had been freed from their masters.
With Juneteenth as a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U. S.,  it was also called Emancipation Day,  for it also commemorated the Emancipation Proclamation made by President Lincoln on January 1st,  1863.  
So why celebrate it in June - specifically,  June 19th?
The origins of Juneteenth actually dates back to June 19,  1865 when the Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston,  Texas,  and he announced the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.  The name  “Juneteenth”  references the date of the holiday,  combining the words  “June”  and  “nineteenth.”
When Tony and/or Madelyn and I speak,  we don't talk to each
other as being black or white;  our conversations go to sharing historical
knowledge and especially our love for music and the variety of music
out there,  from The Beatles to Motown to old blues to folk music.
We ain't black or white - we're just people enjoying each other's company. 
That's the only acknowledgement that's needed.
Not a separation or a division.

Tony and Madelyn are both actors,  and together or separately,  they put on some of the most heart-felt skits about the lives of African Americans of the 19th century - the kind that go straight to the heart,  mind,  and soul.  They teach us a history that many people talk about,  but these two touch folks in a much more effective manner. 
That's how you get people to listen.

The 1930s was known as the decade of  The Great Depression.  I myself have heard many stories about living in the Depression from my own parents,  who experienced it first-hand.  They had their stories,  but it was from their own childhood perspectives of the world.  In the greater part of the country,  President Franklin D.  Roosevelt had plans by creating something he called  "The New Deal."  The New Deal was a series of programs,  public work projects,  financial reforms,  and regulations in the United States between 1933 and 1938 in an attempt to rescue the U.S.  from the Great Depression.
As part of the New Deal Program,  to help lift the United States out of the Great Depression,  Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933.  
Are you ready to sign up for the Civilian Conservation Corps?
Image by Robbie Giorlando
The CCC or C’s as it was sometimes known,  allowed single men between the ages of 18 and 25 to enlist in work programs to improve America’s public lands,  forests,  and parks.
Likeness by Robbie Giorlando
For many,  just the prospect of three meals and a bed were enough to get young men to enroll.  As jobs and income were incredibly scarce,  the CCC for a lot of these young men was their first job.  
This was the first I have seen Greenfield Village have such a vignette.
Photo by Robbie Giorlando
Enlisters would make $30 a month,  $25 of which would be sent straight to their families,  while the other five was for the worker to keep.  Meals and lodging were provided in military camp fashion.
And I believe it is good to show how the American Spirit could work to some extent when put to the test,  and at a time when there was trust.
Picture by Robbie Giorlando
And the music was there,  on the jukeboxes  (if one could afford the nickel a song):
Happy Days Are Here Again,  We're In the Money,  Dream A Little Dream of Me,  I Found A Million Dollar Baby In A Five And Ten Cent Store,  Singing In The Rain,  Just A Gigolo,  All Of Me...
The late 1930s through the early 1950s is my favorite period for the automobile.
Especially the early  '40s!
Does that mean I do not like the autos from the other periods?  Not on your life:  the 1965 Mustang,  the 1969/1970 Maverick,  the 1977 Fury,  and,  of course,  the  ’57 Chevy all hold a dear place in my heart,  but that 20 year era from,  say,  1935 through the mid-50s is just most appealing for me.
A  '41 Ford - my real dream car!
I enjoy witnessing the time my parents experienced.  Growing up I heard the stories of my grandma selling apples on the streets of Detroit while my mom and her sisters were tucked in bed.  They did what they had to do to survive.  And survive they did-----
Early 1940s
The period that brought you Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,  Chattanooga Choo Choo,  Take the  "A"  Train,  Green Eyes,  I'll Never Smile Again...

Collage brought to you by Chris Robey

This ambulance was made in 1941,  but when America was drawn into the War on December 7 of that year,  so,  too,  was it.   
A WWII ambulance

The Women's Army Corps  (WAC)  was the women's branch of the United States Army,  created during World War II.  One hundred and fifty thousand women served in the WAC during the war.  Their noncombat jobs ranged from switchboard operators to mechanics to bakers and beyond.
My friend,  Beth,  is portraying a Sgt.  and teaching
about the Women’s Army Corp  (WAC)  during
World War II.

As always,  the Village's  "Summer of 1943:  A Small-town Wartime Home-front"  vignette is always top-notch.  And immersive.
Peter and Gigi.
Faced with having to feed an expanded military and a hungry population,  the US government reintroduced the idea of War Gardens from World War I.  They rebranded them as Victory Gardens for World War II,  and spelled out their purpose.  
Victory Gardens freed up agricultural produce,  packaging,  and transportation resources for the war effort,  and helped offset shortages of agricultural workers.  Victory Gardeners increased their health through physical activity,  and their families enjoyed better nutrition.  The program also fostered morale,  patriotism,  and a sense of community among participants.
World War II Victory Gardens were grown on farms,  in backyards,  on city rooftops,  in window-boxes,  on public lands,  and even in vacant lots.
By the time the war was over in 1945,  American Victory Gardeners had grown between 8 and 10 million tons of food.
My own mother had a Victory garden during the 1930s but especially in the 1940s during the War.
Gigi works at her Victory garden.
Emily Marchetti Photography

During World War II scrap drives,  similar to Victory gardens,  were a popular way for everyone to contribute to the war effort.  By recycling unused or unwanted metal for example,  the government could build ships,  airplanes,  and other equipment needed to fight the war. 
My mother also told me how she and her sisters  (and their friends)  would collect scrap,  and even grease for the War effort.
This is another vignette Greenfield Village had - pretty awesome!

That's another thing that we in the  (so-called)  Baby Boomer generation group have in common:  when our parents mentioned  "the War,"  we knew exactly what they were talking about,  even with Vietnam going on  (sadly,  most soldiers who went off to Vietnam did not get the respect they deserved).
"Back during the War I had a Victory garden,"  
or  "During the War we collected rubber for the War effort."  
In fact,  just as my kids grew up listening to my music  (Beatles,  Zeppelin,  Stray Cats,  etc)  mixed in with their own,  those of us with WWII parents grew up with their music  (Glenn Miller,  Benny Goodman,  Tommy Dorsey...)  mixed in with our  own.  And my mom told me she heard plenty of her parent's generation music  (How Ya Gonna Keep  'em Down on the Farm,  Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag & Smile Smile Smile,  Over There,  Til We Meet Again,  The Caissons Go Rolling Along,  Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts For Soldiers...yup---she sang these to us as well).
But we'll concentrate on those early 20th century numbers come later September when I do a posting on Greenfield Village's Old Car Festival. 
In the meantime,  it's still 1943:
Knitting items for the boys overseas while listening to the latest war news on the radio,  or perhaps they were listening to The Pepsodent Show:  Hosted by Bob Hope on NBC,  this show was number one on the radio charts from 1942–1944.

Listen to the radio~
Emily Marchetti  took this wonderfully unique picture
Bob Hope attributed The Pepsodent Show's success to his formula of beginning the program with a fast-paced monolog of jokes—“speed comedy,”  as he called it.
The disc-jockey - or DJ  (someone playing records on the air) - was not a common thing until pretty much the 1950s.  One of the earliest examples was  "Make Believe Ballroom,"  a long-running radio program which first aired on radio station WNEW in 1935.  The show was created as filler by announcer Martin Block to fill in time between news bulletins covering the Lindbergh kidnapping trial.  The station did not have access to a live orchestra to play music so Block played records instead.  The concept proved successful,  which led to the launch of the show  "Make Believe Ballroom"  on February 3,  1935 as a 15-minute experimental.  In fact,  it was also in 1935 that American radio commentator,  Walter Winchell,  coined the term  "disc jockey."
But playing records on the radio would not be very common for a while yet - it was mostly live programming.  And the big bulky wooden boxes with an electric cord were the only radios available,  aside from car radios.
Portable transistor radios had not been available yet;  the world would have to wait until the invention of the transistor in 1947,  and then it still wasn't until 1954 before the first commercial hand-held transistor radio became available to the public.

Here we have Peter & Meg selling war bonds and
collecting canned goods.
The nation was in a patriotic fervor during WWII.
By the way,  I've come to find that many people today are not aware that there were no 1943,  '44,  or  '45 automobile models,  for no cars,  commercial trucks,  or auto parts were made from February 1942 to October 1945,  for after the attack on its naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7,  1941,  the United States entered World War II.  American automotive manufacturers virtually overnight transitioned from making their 1942 models to make vehicles,  planes,  engines,  and many other important components to help the Allies win the war.  It is generally agreed that no American city contributed more to the Allied powers during World War II than Detroit.  Appropriately,  Detroit grew to be known as  "The Arsenal of Democracy,"  a term coined by President Roosevelt during one of his Fireside Chat radio broadcasts.  
Civilian car production resumed in summer 1945,  and the pent-up demand created a seller's market.  The 1946 cars were essentially 1942 models with styling updates.  Some government records show that the auto industry built 139 cars in 1943 and 610 in 1944. They may have been leftover models, but they weren't sold to the public.
And,  still,  one more final thing about Victory gardens,  which will lead us into the 1950s:
Most Victory Gardens disappeared after the war.  People became uninterested;  they wanted to distance themselves from the food hardships of the Great Depression and the War;  and there was a shift to post-war processed foods.  Former agricultural land also got developed in the post-war housing boom,  and people moving to the new suburbs had their own private yards.  They no longer needed public community gardens if they wished to continue gardening.

The age of  I Love Lucy,  Leave It to Beaver,  The Donna Reed Show,  The Adventures
of Ozzie and Harriet...

A Chris Robey production
And the radio kept on playing Sh-Boom,  Crying In The Chapel,  Rock Around The Clock,  Hound Dog,  Come On-A My House...
This is my friend Cyndi.
Nothing says a 1950s girl more than putting on lipstick while looking in the rearview mirror!
By the way,  kudos to all the car owners who dress appropriate and add the period accessories to accent their car’s era.  And a big thank you to Greenfield Village for all of the vignettes for each decade – that’s what makes Motor Muster come alive.
"This 1953 Ford Crestline Victoria was born 71 years ago in Atlanta Georgia.  We purchased it four years ago because I wanted this particular car after I saw it,  but we were inspired to purchase a classic automobile after having gone to the Motor Muster in the past as well as the Old Car Festival in the Fall.  This will be our fourth time showing the car at the Motor Muster and to enhance the visitor’s experience,  we dress in 1950s clothing along with the other 1950s accoutrements.  We are both history buffs,  and of course we make it a habit to dress in 1950s fashions as that is what would look appropriate as we drive around in this auto,  of whom we affectionately named Cora."
Cyndi White Carlson

Since we're in the 1950s:
A quintessential icon of modern American suburbia,  the   "lawn”  has roots as deep as America itself.  During his time representing the young United States in Europe,  Thomas Jefferson witnessed the  “tapis vert,”  or  “green carpet,”  at the Palace of Versailles,  as well as the large green swaths of closely mown grass that were common to English country estates.  Both impressed upon Jefferson a grandeur that he tried to emulate at Monticello,  his plantation.  This European influence also extended to George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation,  where Washington hired English landscape gardeners to help create his own versions of English lawns and gardens.
I never seem to be able to catch this scenario.
Thankfully,  a couple of friends were able to capture a bit for me!

This picture was taken by Craig Hutchison
In the mid-19th century,  citizens of increasingly industrialized cities with growing populations sought respite from the urbanization of their landscape.  (Soon),  lawns  (went)  from city parks and wealthy estates to individual yards.  By the 1890s,  they were becoming a fixture of the suburban landscape as improvements in transit allowed city suburbs to grow.
With this new hobby came new technology.  Enhancements to mass-production procedures over the course of the 19th century meant new machinery,  like mechanical mowers,  could be manufactured at a relatively low cost to help homeowners keep their lawns trimmed  (no more sheep or servants needed!).
(...)  the ability to own a home with a lawn was slowly becoming possible for more and more Americans as infrastructure advanced in the early 20th century.  
Greenfield Village understands the many different aspects of history, 
even if it is as mundane as a lawn!  But,  to me,  the history
of the front lawn isn't so mundane at all.  In fact,  I find it
fascinating,  for it is a part of us and our history.
History isn't always politicians and war.
A Jennifer Wallace Goff production
Over the next 50 years,  what was once uncommon would become synonymous with suburban living.
The mid-20th century saw the maturation of modern American lawn culture—a culture that remains relatively unchanged today.  
The program says it all:
"Yard work.  1950s style."

This photograph courtesy of Jennifer Wallace Goff
The unprecedented economic growth of post–World War II America brought a need for inexpensive housing to accommodate returning GIs and their young families.
I recall seeing lawn mowers looking like this when I was a kid.
Usually they were owned by the old men.
I'm sure my own lawn mower that I use at my house is at least 20 years old...possibly it would make sense for me to see mowers like this when I was young.

Jennifer Wallace Goff took this photograph
Today’s lawn standards arise from the scientific and technological developments of the post-war period,  when rotary mowers were introduced along with a number of pesticides and fertilizers now needed to keep a lawn  “healthy.”   Since then,  the lawn has become ubiquitous in suburban living and a symbol of the middle-class American dream,  as well as a big business.  While the pursuit of a perfect lawn remains a pillar of identity in America,  shifting cultural perceptions around how environmentally sustainable lawn culture is continue to shift the conversation on this icon of American communities.
Lawn info comes from The Henry Ford
"The Village Cruisers"  performed a 1950s set - good stuff!
Photo by Bob Jacobs

Welcome to those days before cell phones occupied everyone's time!

This image simply encapsulates the festival atmosphere and excitement of Motor Muster - - 
acres and acres of American Car Culture~
~Welcome summer!

(Photo belongs to Charlie Alestra)

Gotta love the Mustang!
And when you're talking the mid-1960s,  you're talking about the greatest era for top 40 hit tunes:  Friday On My Mind,  Dirty Water,  Give Him A Great Big Kiss,  Wild Thing,  Penny Lane,  My Girl...

This one was a very interesting subject during one of the  "Pass -In-Reviews" - - - - 
In 1969 two guys were working to put together a very unique one-of-a-kind motorcycle,  and they came up with....
...this motorcycle was named  "Revolution"  due to when they were trying to come up
with a name for this homemade concoction,  The Beatles tune,  "Revolution,"  came
on the radio - and there you have it!
Life,  however,  got in the way of it going too far,  for one of the guys was drafted into the military not too long after  (this is during Vietnam,  remember),  and the other - the actual owner - became a father that same year  (the guy in the hat running alongside and pushing the bike his father is on was that baby!).
So the bike has been stored in their garage for all these years - not just the bike but the clothing he wore when he'd ride it,  along with a few of the homemade accessories such as the sign they painted for it,  as well as a few trophies they won,  etc.!
Well,  this bike and the accessories have now been donated and accepted by the Henry Ford Museum and will eventually be on display for all the world to see and learn its story.
Just,  wow...!

(Pic courtesy of  Rebecca Covel-German)
While on TV we watched Bewitched,  That Girl,  The Ed Sullivan Show,  Laugh-In,  Bonanza...

Onto the 1970s vignette,  where they were celebrating our nation's Bicentennial.
But the Bicentennial display was the only thing I was a bit disappointed in,  for they did better in previous years:
Spirit of  (19)76!
Don't get me wrong,  the girls at the booth handing out buttons did a fine job. 
And I say allow them to remain,  but for next year,  bring back what they had last year,  which was much more identifiable for me and probably many others rather than the band performing on the gazebo they had this year.  And,  yes,  keep the booth they had this year,  perhaps with the addition of showing some of the treats and snacks that were popular in the  '70s as well,  such as the pop brands and the like that were celebrating the Bicentennial  (7-Up,  Coke,  Pepsi).
Here are a couple of the Bicentennial scenes around the gazebo last year:
Yes,  Bicentennial beach blankets were a thing in 1976...

And so was having a barbecue while listening to the radio and hearing Rockin' Me,  Hot Stuff  (Rolling Stones tune),  Rhiannon,  Let  'em In,  Livin'  Thing...

As for the gazebo - what a great place to take a patriotic picture,  as I did!

Unfortunately for this year  they,  instead,  had a 70s cover band.
I also think they should have some sort of Bicentennial display,  showing the cool
collectibles that were available in that wonderful year of 1976!
Not sure what I mean?
Check these out  (click the year):  
2022 2023
For the first time I had heard first hand that The Henry Ford was planning to do something for America's 250th  (Semiquincentennial).
But what are their plans?
This is very exciting to me and  I do have my hopes up that they will do America proud,  as they did in 1976.
This was also in the general vicinity of the Bicentennial display.
It's a mish-mosh collection of 1970s items.
While the TV showed Welcome Back Kotter,  Happy Days,  Room 222,  The Waltons,  Julia,  Wait Til Your Father Gets Home,  One Day At A Time...
The Gremlin~
This just screams 1970s!

I had a Schwinn back in the early 1970s.
Mine had a sissy bar,  and I remember when our neighbor bought me a flag to attach to it.
It was SO cool!
Those were the days my friend,  we thought they'd never end...

As tradition holds,  on the Saturday evening of Motor Muster Greenfield Village hosts a period dance;  which period they choose remains to be seen,  for each year a different era is chosen:  it could be a swing dance with Big Band music of the 1930s and 1940s,  it could be a pre-Beatles rock and roll dance,  a later 1960s dance,  but,  for the first time,  this year they had an early 1970s dance.
"The Together Band"  was the name of the Saturday evening group.
There were two distinctly different sets:
The first set was more A.M.  radio funk and pop,  while the 2nd set was more for the F.M.  crowd.  It was a hoot to watch the dancers attempt to dance to Pink Floyd's  "Time."

As I try to do every year,  I zip backstage during break in hopes of getting a few group shots of the Greenfield Village dancers.
They're pretty much dressed 1970s,  but am I:  I wear t-shirts and blue jeans in my modern daily life - no different than what I wore back in the  '70s.
I believe,  for the most part,  these kids could get away with wearing these clothes here in this anything goes year of 2024.  In fact,  they could start a new trend if they wanted to lol.

I always try to get at least one sort of crazy jumpy sort of photo,  too, 
just to add some fun to it.

25 or 6 to 4
My mind was set on very much disliking this 70s copy band,  for most genuinely are not very good.  These guys,  however - "The Together Band" - were pretty doggone awesome!  Their musicianship was great,  and their vocals were excellent.  In fact,  when they performed The Who's  "
Love,  Reign O'er Me,"  they knocked it out of the park,  including Roger Daltrey's screams.  And they even played Spirit's  "I Got A Line On You!"

Tied together with September's Old Car Festival,  these wonderful car shows at Greenfield Village exhibit 20th century Americana - "materials concerning or characteristic of America,  its civilization,  or its culture" -  pretty much in its entirety  (okay...aside from the 1980s and  '90s).  Contrary to popular belief,  we have a culture here,  and this is  a big part of it.
To me,  it is an awesome celebration of US.
It's what keeps me coming back to Motor Muster every year.
Symbols of America~ 
Independence Hall  (the front entrance of the Henry Ford Museum)  and our flag - -
This was a wonderful site to see late that evening as we left after the concert/dance

Until next time,  see you in time.

Oh wait - - - - - - 
My van never looked so good!
One more thing:
we had a very special model show off a very special vehicle:
Ian,  metro Detroit's most sought after male model,  posed with one of the rarest of vehicles:  Ford's E150 van from 2002.
With Ian's presence around it,  it looked even more special.
One day it will be in Motor Muster.
I wonder how he knew it was mine?
With these photos.

Many,  many thanks to the photographers who allowed me to add their pictures to my own.  I just couldn't make it everywhere so I appreciate you allowing me to use your shots as well:
Charlie Alestra
Rebecca Covel-German
Robbie Giorlando
Craig Hutchison
Ian Kushnir
Emily Marchetti
Chris Robey
Jennifer Wallace Goff

~  ~  ~

1 comment:

Stephanie Ann said...

Looks like a fun time!