One of the best things about my job is that I work right across the street from the Henry Ford in Dearborn. Henry Ford (the man) was quite an ecletic individual. Even though he is famous for saying "History is bunk", that quote was really part of a sentence where he was talking about not using the past to justify bad decisions made now. He opposed the build up of American armed forces before World War I, and the quote "History is bunk" was his way of saying just because it was done in the past, doesn't mean we should do it now. Here's more information about that quote in this blog post.
The fact is, Ford was always fascinated with history, and one of the quirky, rich guy things he did was collect Americana. Rich guys always feel a need to leave their mark on society. For example, Donald Trump has left his Trump Towers in cities all over. Tom Monaghan (Domino's Pizza founder) wanted so badly to build a crucifix taller than the Statue of Liberty that he left the left wing politics of Ann Arbor to build his own city in Florida to do it. So, Henry Ford was just doing what quirky rich guys do all over - he was making his mark. Here's a better quote from Ford and his feelings about history:
"I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used.... When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition..."
I'm the lucky benefactor of Ford's quirkiness, because as often as I can I can step back in history on my lunch hour. I most enjoy walking the grounds of Greenfield Village during the summer months on my lunch hour. In the winter before Christmas, it's only open on the weekends, and this blog post from Kim talks about Holiday Nights at the Village. I am looking forward to making a visit on a non work day this holiday season. I will write more about GFV - check back soon....most Michiganders have been to the Henry Ford as part of a class field trip, but check it out as an adult. And bring your holiday visitors from out of town!