Holiday Road — Part Two

Happy Thursday, darlings! Suze here. In case you didn’t get enough of my vacation pictures last week (click here for Holiday Road, Part One), here are a few more.

The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn Michigan. We had actually planned to go no farther than Toledo, but when we realized just how close we were to another state, we decided to take a detour into Michigan. And are we ever glad we did! It saved us some money. If you’ll remember your Seinfeld episodes, returnable soda bottles are worth ten cents in Michigan, not a measly nickel like everywhere else! So we stopped at a grocery store and returned a soda bottle, thereby doubling our money almost instantaneously. Honestly, it was like magic. Much better than the stock market, and it kind of makes you think in a different way about your investment portfolio.

We traveled on to the Henry Ford Museum. This place was huge! I’m talking acres of interior space. And not at all boring, as I’d feared. Yes, there were lots of antique cars, and strange, giant machinery, but there was also an original Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. Further in was an old-fashioned diner, complete with red pleather booths, a counter with chrome stools, and a waitress with purple hair and a nose ring. She made that traditional uniform look edgy, I tell you. I had a yummy chicken pot pie and a bottle of cream soda (call it “pop” when you’re in that part of the country).

Now, in addition to being an entrepreneur and innovator, Henry Ford was also a collector, and the museum has continued to acquire some pretty amazing things after his death. Three things there struck me profoundly, and here’s the first:

That is the actual chair in which Lincoln was assassinated. It’s in a Plexiglas case, but you can get right up next to it. The dark area on the upholstery is either bloodstains, or residue from hair pomade–I found a couple of conflicting stories. For my kindred-spirit history nerds out there, on the evening of the assassination, the chair was brought into the presidential box at Ford’s theater from the apartment of Harry Ford for the comfort of the president. After the assassination, the U.S. government took possession of the chair. Later, Harry Ford’s widow petitioned for the return of the chair. She was successful, and promptly sold it for $2,400 in 1929 to Henry Ford (who does not seem to be any relation).

The Rosa Parks bus. This is the actual bus on which Rosa Parks was riding in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white person. You can board the bus and listen to a recording of Ms. Parks talking about that day. I had goosebumps as I listened to her words, and I wondered if I would have had the courage to do what she did.

The limousine in which Kennedy was assassinated. The long black limo is no longer a convertible. After the assassination, the car was modified to include a top, bulletproof glass, and armored plating. And then it was painted black and put back into service as part of the White House fleet, carrying presidents up through Jimmy Carter. Really. Subsequent presidents got back into that car. At the Ford Museum, it is fenced off, but you can get within a few feet of it. As I approached, a chill ran through me and I felt nauseous, feelings that did not go away until I left the area. Make of that what you will. But I can tell you that as I passed the car again later in the museum visit, the same thing happened.

How about you? Have you ever seen an object that affected you profoundly, physically or emotionally? Visited any good museums lately?


17 thoughts on “Holiday Road — Part Two”

  1. So interesting, Suze! And as usual, your take on life has me chuckling as I’m reading. I drove by your house the other day and saw your ginormous pumpkin on the front lawn. We must have a pic of that baby! As far as museums and chills, I had that experience when i went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. I dare anyone to walk through that place and not come out a changed human being. Great post, my friend.

      1. I haven’t been to the Holocaust Museum, but it’s on my list of places to go. PJ, that pumpkin in the yard split its skin and had to be repaired with Gorilla Glue to keep it from rotting; therefore it was ineligible for competition!

    1. Glad I could help! My great grandfather and his family were from Illinois, and I like to think maybe some of my ancestors heard Lincoln speak or saw him in passing. No evidence that happened, but it’s fun to imagine!

    1. Thanks, Marian. I just love museums, as to my husband and son. One of my “shoulda-been” careers is museum curator 🙂

  2. Suze, love your post. I love your descriptions of your experiences. They come alive as I read them. Yes, I did have a strange reaction when I walked though Ellis Island, on the stairs that all the immigrants stepped upon. The center of each tread is arched downward as you can imagine each person stepping down to enter the place where their fate was decided. Then seeing my grandfather’s name, Harry Katz, on the exterior plaque. Stimulating post.

    1. I’ve never been to Ellis Island, but it’s another place I’d like to go. How cool that you saw your grandfather’s name! As far as I can tell none of my ancestors came through Ellis Island (they all emigrated before that), but my husband’s family most likely did on their way from Germany a hundred years ago.

  3. The chair seems a little bit morbid to me for some reason. I know it’s not true but I’ve always thought the place where some one died kind of holds their spirit. But I’m sure Lincoln has better things to do than hover around an old chair.

    1. Yeah, it’s creepy looking. For some reason, I didn’t get the weird vibe at the Lincoln chair like I did at the Kennedy car. Can’t explain it. But I’ll bet you’re right that Lincoln has better things to do. And of course he wouldn’t have actually died in the chair. He lived for a while after the shooting and was taken to another location where he died.

  4. I find the Korean War Monument in DC to be chilling – it’s my fav of the monuments. And one time, when I worked in a book store – Media Play, I think – LOTS of books – I sat for a few minutes and read the beginning of some famous satanic bible, just to see what it was about. I don’t really believe in that kind of stuff – either way, but within 15 minutes I had a wicked headache. I put the book down and never picked it up again.

    1. Wowza! Media Play! I haven’t thought about that store in years. Satanic Bible, huh? I’m scared just thinking about it 🙂

  5. What a fun trip! I know I would have loved to have gone with you! I was very fortunate to be an intern at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC. They have the most amazing stuff. If I didn’t need to work to live, I’d probably still be there today! The monument that affected me the most when I lived in DC was the Vietnam Memorial. Unlike other monuments from past wars, this one (at least when I lived in DC) was visited constantly. There was a steady stream of tokens, flowers, mourners, and visitors. I likened it to a living, breathing memorial, It always saddened me to think that in the not too distant future, there wouldn’t be flowers, photos or other mementos left behind to those fallen soldiers because their loved ones would be gone too. Then the wall would be like the other monuments, majestic, historic and impersonal.

    1. Oh, I love museums and will visit them with you anytime! There are actually quite a few within a couple hours’ drive of us that I still haven’t seen. I’ve not seen the Viet Name memorial, but I’ve heard that it’s very moving. We need to go back to Washington soon. It’s been a long time since we’ve been there.

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