National Geographic : 1958 Jul
Bustles, boots, and Franklin stoves-plus the transplanted laboratory of a great inventor -re-create the world of grandfather'sday in Henry Ford's unique museum. THE PAST IS PRESENT IN Greenfield Village BY BEVERLEY M. BOWIE Assistant Editor, National Geographic Magazine FOR an afternoon, at least, time had taken a vacation. In the suavely upholstered interior of a 1902 Waverly electric brougham I drove sedately past the paddock of a Cotswold cot tage. Two stableboys leaned on the gate and stared; an old horse pricked up its ears and whinnied. At the door of a 17th-century forge the smith slowly wiped his hands on his leather apron and blinked at us in the warm sunshine. Sounds eloquent of another era disturbed the autumn air. From the meadow below arose the frantic squeal of a steam calliope playing "Daisy, Daisy." Rounding the bend of the lagoon to our right, the stern-wheeler Suwanee gave two hoarse, high-pitched toots. And above the lengthy procession of Moons, Maxwells, Hupmobiles, Tin Lizzies, and Stutz Bearcats that stretched behind us floated the nostalgic "oogah-oogah!" of a hundred an tique horns. For this was the annual Old Car Festival held each September at Greenfield Village. Here, on some 200 acres near Dearborn, Mich igan, Mr. Henry Ford (1863-1947) re-created a big slice of American history, from a 1634 Cape Cod windmill to an 1886 Detroit power plant; from the weather-beaten shacks of southern slaves to his own neat, flower-bor dered homestead. These 90-odd buildings, 51 of them transplanted originals and the rest authentic reproductions, Mr. Ford linked with 19th-century America springs to life again his gigantic museum near by: a vast 14-acre display of the Nation's developing industry and art (color map, pages 104-5). The great bell of Martha-Mary Chapel was softly ringing one o'clock when, after the last of 250 entrants had chugged through the vil lage, the contests began on the green. Cork screwing between rows of balloons pegged to the grass, high-slung cars wove elegant figure eights, racing against time and explosions as daintily as spry dowagers dancing a gavotte. Drivers competed to see who could go the slowest without stalling or shifting gears.