Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

As we celebrate Black History Month here at The Henry Ford, we were more than excited to have our own Executive Chef Mike Trombley share a few modified George Washington Carver recipes with The Detroit News today.

Object ID: 64.167.285.9

Chef Mike consulted Carver's 1917 pamphlet, "How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption" as well as our historic recipe bank.

Make sure to read Chef Mike's interview with The Detroit News. We've shared his recipes below, too. If you'd like to learn more about the George Washington Carver artifacts here in the Collections of The Henry Ford, take a look here.

Peanut Bisque

Presented by Executive Chef Michael Trombley

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 1/4 cups peanuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish onion, small dice
  • 2 tablespoon whole butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • TT kosher salt
  • pinch white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • chopped herb for garnish
  • Truffle oil for service
  • Toast nuts in an oven proof pan at 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown, stir once.

    In a heavy gauge non reactive pot, add the butter and onion and cook on low until onions are translucent.

    Add the flour and stir, add milk and whisk then add 1 cup of nuts, stock, nutmeg, salt and pepper, simmer for 30 minutes.

    Adjust seasoning if needed, puree with hand held blender.

    Dish out to bowls and add the remainder of the chopped nuts, parsley and truffle oil.

    From Chef Mike: "This dish was somewhat modified for our catering and banquet menu. The truffle oil being the most noticeable, also the addition of stock, nutmeg and butter for a richer flavor. In the original recipe the milk was warmed and peanut butter was added, because of it’s delicate nature I roasted my own nuts and created a roux (butter flour) to stabilize this soup."

    Behind the scenes of Chef Mike's Detroit News photo shoot.

    Roasted Peanut, Apple and Celery Salad

    Presented by Executive Chef Michael Trombley

    Ingredients (Serves 6)

  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, coarse chop
  • 2 cups sour apples, medium dice
  • 2 cups celery, fine slice
  • ½ cup grapes cut in half
  • ¼ cup carrots cut julienne
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • TT salt and pepper
  • butter lettuce leaves for bed
  • Toast nuts in an oven proof pan at 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown, stir once and let cool.

    Prepare and gather all items as described.

    In a large bowl mix mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon, salt and pepper.

    Add peanuts, apples, celery, grapes and carrots to bowl and mix.

    Line 6 plates with butter lettuce and top with the mixed peanut apple salad and enjoy.

    From Chef Mike: "This recipe was slightly modified to include grapes, sour cream, lemon juice and carrot. Chopped parsley could also make a great addition!"

    Take a look at...

    George Washington Carver: Agricultural Scientist, Social Activist

    Peanut Butter Griddle Cakes

    Food

    Mechanical ValentineThis time of year I feel so nostalgic about activities surrounding Valentine's Day! I fondly recall making cards for my mother on construction paper by coloring with crayons. Many looked a lot like this one in the museum's collections.

    I also have many happy memories of exchanging cards with my classmates in elementary school, especially cutouts featuring kids or animals.

    Take a look at this Cutout Valentine, "The Flags Spell 'Come Back to Me' Because I'm Lonely as You Can See," 1945. A mechanical card with two pieces hinged together so that the boat can rock from side to side. It was a gift to the museum from Mrs. Harvey Firestone, Jr. (Elizabeth Parke Firestone) and came in with the archival collection, Firestone Family Papers.

    Valentine, "Bank of True Love," circa 1852. Richard Marsh of 374 Pearl St., New York City printed this Valentine in the form of a promissory note. It shows a view of lovers seated in a garden at the top and Cupid on the right with the text, "State of Matrimony." ID THF99107 / 89.0.540.683.


    Cutout Valentine, "Radio Me and I'll Radio You," circa 1920. A mechanical card with moving arms and heads shows a girl and a boy with radio sets sending messages to each other. It is signed on the back, "Llewellynne From Aunt Ida." ID THF99109 / 89.72.1


    Three-Dimensional Valentine, "To Greet My Love," circa 1910. Card opens out completely to form a tissue bell. It is signed on the back, "From Dufur to Eva Lena." ID THF99115 / 90.234.19.


    This year I searched our collections for more selections of valentines and found some surprises. I happened to find several which struck me as a quite unique. One is designed to look like a promissory note, picture above, from a bank in the 1850s. Another is a cutout card featuring kids playing with radio equipment in the 1920s - then the latest technology! The third example is a card that folds out to form an elaborate 3D tissue bell.

    Photographic print, Girls' Club Valentine Dance and Ford Plant Engineering Party, Dearborn, Michigan, February 14, 1947. Joseph Farkas was the Ford Motor Company photographer. ID THF99127 / P.833.83934.2.


    Cabinet photograph, Cyclist Eugene Valentine with Bicycle and Medals, 1887. It was photographed by J. Wood of 208 Bowery, New York City. Signed on the back "Yours truly, Eugene Valentine, Dec 29, 1887." ID THF206673 / 86.18.48.1

    Then I came across this photo of a Valentine's Day Party. It is identified as a Girls' Club Valentine Dance, but they look like ladies and a gentleman to me. The room is decorated with crepe paper streamers and a large heart-shaped doorway. The sign above the doorway reads, "Kiss Me!"

    My searches also came up with a man named Eugene Valentine. Once I saw this I realized that Valentine is indeed a last name, not just a romantic holiday. The name is from the Latin "Valentinus" based on "valere," meaning to be strong. In the British Isles, it has been recorded from medieval times as a first and then a last name with many different spellings, including Valentyn, Vallentine, and Valentine.

    I also found a business named Valentine-Souvenir Company of New York City. There are several dozen postcards made by this company in our collections, but not one is a Valentine card. It turns out this company was formed from several later mergers of the founding company started by John Valentine of Dundee, Scotland, in 1825. The original Valentine Company made lithograph prints before starting to produce postcards in 1896. From 1914 to 1923 the Valentine-Souvenir Company of New York City printed postcards using the letterpress halftone color printing process.

    Postcard - "Band Stand over Lagoon, Belle Isle, Detroit, Mich.," circa 1915, Valentine-Souvenir Co. ID THF99105 / 87.9.23.50


    I think that any search for Valentine's Day cards needs to include heart shapes as a design motif. In addition to the cards, I expected to find jewelry, dishes and quilts to have heart motifs, but here's something unexpected: a forerunner of the bicycle made with heart shapes cut out of the wooden wheels.

    Velocipede, Draisine, attributed to a German maker, circa 1818. German Baron Karl von Drais invented the Draisine in 1817. Operators of this human-powered vehicle sat astride the wooden rail and pushed off with their feet. This early velocipede or hobby horse can be said to be the first bicycle. THF108100 / 32.161.1


    What would Valentine's Day be without a box of chocolates? This 1950s magazine advertisement says it all. Happy Valentine's Day!

    Whitman's Chocolates Advertisement, "Who Says Men Don't Understand Women?" It was published February 9, 1957, probably in Saturday Evening Post. ID THF99119 / 2008.61.4.


    Cynthia Read Miller, Curator of Photographs and Prints, is continually fascinated with the museum’s over one million historical graphics.

    valentine cards, valentines

    Last week people at Henry Ford Museum and across the country took part in the National Day of Courage, a day celebrating the strength of Rosa Parks on what would have been her 100th birthday. Guests filled the museum all day long to take part in the festivities. Thanks to our live stream of the event from Detroit Public Television, we were able to share the events online, too. From expressions of gratitude to thankful Facebook posts, it was exciting to see so many share their thoughts on Mrs. Parks and what courage means to them.

    Distinguished Adjunct Professor and Civil Rights activist Julian Bond delivers the keynote address.

    Our morning began with opening remarks from Julian Bond, a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

    U.S. Congressman Gary Peters

    U.S. Congressman John Conyers

    Senator Carl Levin

    We were honored to have U.S. Congressmen Gary Peters and John Conyers and Senator Carl Levin on hand to share their thoughts on Mrs. Parks and share a Presidential Proclamation for her 100th birthday. You can watch Congressman Peters share part of the letter below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UGJB4kNIG0&feature=share&list=SP15GihUisSLSqR8OybU0YXCmfmNZCF4hd

    The newly issued Rosa Parks stamp

    Visitors line up to purchase the newly issued Rosa Parks stamps.

    The morning's activities were highlighted by an unveiling of the new Rosa Parks Courage stamp from the United States Postal Service.

    The Hamilton Family band performs.

    Aaron Dworkin, founder of Sphinx Organization, right, introduces violinist Gareth Johnson.

    Robert and Bernice Jones

    Musical performances were peppered throughout the day's schedule as a way to celebrate and reflect.

    Political reporter and author Eleanor Clift

    We were lucky to have an outstanding collection of authors, professors, and subject matter experts on hand all day, bringing lively discussion to the museum plaza.

    To see more of the National Day of Courage in action, take a look at our photo set from the day's events. We also have an entire playlist of videos, too.

    Civil Rights

    Conserving a GAR parade flag

    February 8, 2013

    In the past few years, the Conservation Department has worked on a number of historically important flags from Michigan, including several Civil War battle flags.

    This flag dates from the end of the 19th century and was used by a GAR post in Lyons, Michigan. The GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) was a Union veterans’ organization formed after the Civil War and there were posts in almost every town in Michigan. This flag would have been used in parades on patriotic occasions in Lyons. In 1917 the flag was donated to the town “to raise at funerals of GAR or veterans of any war.” It was displayed for many years in the Lyons-Muir Historical Museum. Its caretakers recognized the need to preserve it and brought it to Textile Conservator Fran Faile.

    Over the course of several months, the flag was humidified and flattened to reduce distortions in the weave. It was stabilized and protected by encasing it between layers of sheer nylon tulle. Hand stitching secures all the small fragments of fabric from moving or being lost. The Historical Society is presently having a protective case built that will enable the flag to rest flat rather than be stressed by continued hanging.

    Years of use and display had made the silk fabric very fragile.

    The painted lettering was especially brittle.

    All the fragments were flattened and arranged between the layers of tulle.

    The paint was humidified and flattened.

    Ready to be installed in its new case!

    Fran Faile has been the Textile Conservator at The Henry Ford since 2000.

    conservation, flags

    On Feb. 4, The Henry Ford is celebrating what would have been Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday with a National Day of Courage. Mrs. Parks wasn’t looking to start a movement when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955, but instead was acting upon a courageous response to her instincts. Mrs. Parks later said of that day, “When I made that decision, I knew that I had the strength of my ancestors with me.”

    In 2001 The Henry Ford became the home to Montgomery, Ala., bus No. 2857, the very bus that Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat on. The bus has become a symbol for courage and strength as many believe Mrs. Parks’ actions that day sparked the American Civil Rights Movement.

    Starting the National Day of Courage off is American Civil Rights activist and leader Julian Bond. In the 1960s Mr. Bond founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and would later go on to serve as chairman of the NAACP. Joining him during the day are contributing Newsweek editor Eleanor Clift, Rosa Parks biographers Jeanne Theoharis and Douglas Brinkley, and author and Wayne State University Assistant Professor Danielle McGuire.

    Today we’re excited to announce that in addition to a day packed with activities, The Henry Ford will be dedicating the new Rosa Parks Forever stamp from the United States Postal Service.

    The new stamp, showcasing a portrait of Mrs. Parks, will be available for purchase and cancellation at Henry Ford Museum all day.

    On site with us on Feb. 4 will be USA Network’s “Characters Unite” public service campaign. Visitors can learn more about the campaign and create a special souvenir.

    Admission to Henry Ford Museum, from 9:30 a.m .to 9:30 p.m., is free that day thanks to Target and another installment of their Target Family Days.

    Our celebration of Mrs. Parks and her courage isn’t just here in the museum. No matter where you are you can participate digitally as we share stories of hope and inspiration.

    Online we’re asking individuals to post their messages of courage by sharing a digital Facebook badge. We even have a plain badge that you can download and write your own message on. If you do, make sure to take a picture of yourself wearing it and tag us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #dayofcourage.

    Thanks to our partners at Detroit Public Television, a live stream of the day’s events will be available to watch online. You can find that link here. After the National Day of Courage, make sure to visit DPTV’s website for additional interviews and highlights.

    While the special activities for the National Day of Courage happen for just one day, we’ll be sharing some of our significant Civil Rights artifacts all throughout the month of February. For the latest information on the National Day of Courage, make sure to visit our event page and website.

    National Day of Courage, Rosa Parks, stamps

    The Henry Ford, like many cultural institutions, has been working on digitizing its collections—i.e., photographing and describing them, and making this information available online. While what we have completed is only a drop in the bucket given the vastness of our collections (25 million archival documents and photographs, and 1 million objects), we have made a lot of progress this year and wanted to share what we’ve accomplished.

    There are two big projects we took on this year (in addition to many smaller ones). The first was digitization of 250 objects in support of the mobile version of our website. This included adding photographs and descriptions for the many Greenfield Village buildings—for example, check out the Menlo Park Laboratory, the Daggett Farmhouse, the Armington & Sims Machine Shop, and even the Firestone Farm Chicken Shed.

    In Henry Ford Museum, we photographed and described objects from each of the permanent exhibits that we considered “can’t miss” artifacts. You’ll see some things you might expect, like the Wienermobile, the Dymaxion House, and the Rosa Parks bus, but have you ever gotten to see some of our lesser-known treasures, such as Cornelius Vanderbilt’s rocking chair, a Brownie camera, flintlock pistols, and a Paul Revere coffeepot?.

    Evening Dress Made by Peggy Hoyt for Elizabeth Parke Firestone, 1928

    The second big project for 2012 was creation of our Curators’ Choice lists. We asked our curators to select the 25 most important objects in our collections in each of 7 categories. (Henry Ford got 50, because, well, his name is on our door—and because 2013 will mark his 150th birthday.) There were three criteria the curators used for their selections: national significance, uniqueness to our institution, and resonance to museum visitors. It tells you a bit about the scope and import of our collections that many of these significant items are not on display—but you can now view them all online. They range from a massive cable strander to a tiny scrap of a poem, from a 17th century horse racing trophy to a 1990s cell phone, from an elegant evening dress

    Lincoln Logs, circa 1960 (Object ID 90.365.13)

    In addition to these two major projects, we also spent 2012 digitizing selections from throughout our collections, many with ties to current exhibits and events. Have you seen our visiting LEGO® exhibit and want more? Check out our digital collection of building toys. Did you make it out to Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village or Holiday Nights? Take a look at some of the vintage greeting cards that help inspire our décor for these events. Were you able to participate in some of our special weekend muster events? Learn more about our collections relating to the War of 1812 or the American Civil War—you may have seen some of these objects on display during your visit!

    In addition to the above, we have digitized selections from the following areas of our collections for your immediate browsing pleasure.

    From our transportation collections, you can review the Morgan Gies collection, wonderful lantern slides from the early 20th century New York to Paris and New York to Seattle races, and classic design drawings from Bill Mitchell and Virgil Exner.

    Circus Trapeze Artist, circa 1890 (Object ID 87.18.70.2)

    If you prefer paper-based artifacts, you might take a look at our digital cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, and trade cards. These provide a glimpse of many aspects of 19th century life.

    Henry Ford as a Small Child Being Shown a Bird's Nest by his Family, Painted by Irving Bacon, 1936 (Object ID 00.28.17)

    If you are interested in the historical figures who helped shape American history, try our digital collections relating to designer Don Chadwick, racecar driver Lyn St. James, agricultural pioneer George Washington Carver, and a vastly expanded selection of artifacts related to Henry Ford. We also have a variety of personal documents from notables including Abraham Lincoln, Aaron Burr, George Washington, Mark Twain, and Alexander Graham Bell. Read their own words in their own hand from the comfort of your home!

    Hammond Typewriter, Model No. 2, 1895-1900 (Object ID 37.154.2)

    But wait, there’s more! Check out quilts, coverlets, stoves, telephones, lunchboxes, patent models, steam engines, toys, typewriters, and violins, as well as many objects from our World’s Fair and agricultural collections.

    Phew.

    In total, with all of the above objects digitized (and, believe it or not, many more I did not mention), we added about 8,000 new objects to our collections site in 2012! Still, we have much, much more to do. We are still in the process of putting our 2013 list together, but we know we will be tackling areas of our collections related to agricultural, industrial, and technological innovations, as well as automobile racing. In addition, we’ll continue digitizing collections objects to bring some context to several 2013 milestones: the 150th birthday of Henry Ford, the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks, and the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death.

    The single biggest reason we have embarked on this massive digitization project is to provide easy public access to our collections, the vast majority of which are not on display. As we reflect on our efforts last year, I and everyone on our digitization team hope that you are finding our digital collections as fascinating, enjoyable, and informative as we are. If there are areas of our collection you would like to see us digitize in 2013, please let us know in the comments below or via our Facebook page.

    Ellice Engdahl, Digital Collections Initiative Manager at The Henry Ford, is very excited by the digitization promise of 2013.

    archives, artifacts, digital artifacts

    (This story ran in the fall edition of Living History magazine)

    At first, you can’t quite believe your eyes — towering models of architectural icons, some of them 18 feet tall. The Empire State Building. St. Louis' Gateway Arch. Frank Lloyd Wright's masterful Fallingwater. Shanghai’s Jin Mao Tower. They’re breathtaking.

    What’s most remarkable, though, is that these models are constructed completely of LEGO® bricks. Not specially engineered bricks. No, these eye-popping models are made of nothing more than standard, out-of-the-box LEGO® pieces.

    The models are all part of LEGO®Architecture: Towering Ambition, which runs until Feb. 24 in Henry Ford Museum.

    Even though this is definitely a grown-up approach to LEGO® bricks, it’s hardly a somber one. As you make your way through this city of monumental plastic behemoths, the “wow” factor is in full force. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see anything like this again. (Don’t worry — we haven’t forgotten the kids. There’s a LEGO® pit, where they can test their chops in LEGO® construction.)

    But what exactly are these monster-sized creations? LEGO’s latest marketing gimmick? The work of a madman or an off-kilter visionary? The obsessive project of a guy with way too much time on his hands?

    LEGO Structures

    “I wouldn’t call myself obsessed,” laughs Adam Reed Tucker, the 40-year-old Chicago architect who created these behemoths. “I consider myself an innovator, so maybe a better word is ...” He pauses, looking for precisely the right word to describe what it is that drives him.

    It’s a revealing moment. This isn’t just a guy searching for a word. This is a glimpse at Tucker, the perfectionist — exacting, precise, focused and determined to find the absolute best way to accomplish a task, even if it’s just searching for a better word. You hear it when he talks about his work. And you most definitely see it in these immense models.

    A few minutes after he resumes talking, he interrupts himself.

    “Maybe ‘driven’ is a better word,” Tucker says. But right away, you sense that he’s not satisfied with it.

    The Chicago SpireThis show, organized by the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., has proven to be one of the most popular in the 27-year-old museum’s history. That’s hardly surprising, given the prodigious combination of skill and imagination that Tucker’s lofty creations demonstrate.

    It’s this combination that led LEGO® to award him the status of LEGO® Certified Professional. But Tucker, who created these works before he had any official standing with LEGO®, downplays the title.

    “Really, all you have to have is an existing brick-based business,” says Tucker. But then, almost as an afterthought, he mentions another prerequisite. “You have to use the LEGO® brick in a way that is unique and innovative.”

    Apparently, that last requirement is not particularly easy to satisfy, as Tucker is just one of 11 people in the world to receive the certification.

    “I’m consumed with exploring and pushing the envelope of where the LEGO® brick can go,” says Tucker, speaking by telephone from his home in suburban Chicago. “I’m enamored by all of the usefulness that LEGO® harnesses within itself — education, philosophy, team-building, therapy, art, science.”

    Notice that he never mentions the word “toy.”

    “Here’s the thing,” says Tucker, finally getting to the idea he’s been champing at the bit to share. “LEGO® is my artistic medium. These bricks are, to me, what paint is to a painter, what metal is to a blacksmith. My medium of choice is plastic bricks that happen to be called LEGO®.”

    Marc Greuther, The Henry Ford’s chief curator, understands precisely what Tucker is talking about.

    “Even as a child, I understood that there was something rational and linear about LEGO® bricks,” says Greuther. “But I also understood that they were not literal. They were not something that existed in the real, grown-up world. You could use them to build things that were fanciful. But what you built was a reflection of your imagination and not of an architect’s drawing.”

    It’s no coincidence that Tucker refers to himself as an “architectural artist.” You won’t find him doggedly following blueprints or schematics as he makes his structures. He’s trying to capture the essence of these buildings, not mimic every tiny architectural element. Compare a detailed photo of the original structure with one of Tucker’s creations, and you will immediately see that, while they are very similar to one another, they are not the same.

    “I would be completely delusional to think that I could replicate anything in this world using square LEGO® bricks,” says Tucker. “I prefer to think of what I do as abstract interpretations. I let your imagination fill in the details. I’m more interested in a given structure’s pure sculptural form.

    “Trust me, if you try to make something that a brick doesn’t want to be, it will not work. Even children eventually understand that.”

    LEGO, lego bricks, toys

    I survived a beautiful night that included fireside chats, reindeer, tasty food, lantern lit walkways, historic goodness, Christmas carolers and ice-skating.

    I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

    Based on the fact that Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village has sold out most nights during this year’s annual program, I’m not alone.

    From experience, I can share a few survival tactics to help others make the most of the event. It took me a while to get it right, maybe because the weather changes the experience so much. It’s winter – in Michigan. (I don’t think I need to add much to that.)

    Tip one: Dress to stay warm and dry

    We’ve attended the event in temperate weather – running around with coats open and hats off. We’ve also survived some pretty freezing weather decked out in snow pants and facemasks, scurrying from house to house eager to warm frosty noses and icy toes.

    This year, a misty rain greeted us early in the night, but it was gone soon enough. I closed my umbrella shortly after arrival and didn’t touch it again. Outside of a little extra mud, it was very comfortable.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Staying warm and dry is key to enjoying the event. I’ve often told my older girls that cozy wins over cute. (That’s not always an easy adage for teenage girls when their vision of strolling through the fire-lit village doesn’t generally include two pair of socks, snow pants and long johns. Or – oh no – when last year’s warm gloves don’t match this year’s new coat.) But it’s a long event, and there’s so much to do. It’s one thing to be warm for an hour or so, but Holiday Nights is a three-and-a-half hour gig.

    Fortunately, there are many warming fires throughout the village. They’re great for relieving the chill, and meeting and greeting other visitors to the event.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Tip two: Arrive early

    There’s so much to do at Holiday Nights, we like to arrive early with a plan. We used try see every element of the night – visit each house, workshop, etc. However, now that the kids are older, they want to DO everything at Holiday Nights. That means skating, wagon rides, carousel rides. Even our youngest wants into the action, and sitting in a stroller isn’t much of an option.

    When the event is sold out, there can be some waiting involved. The lines for rides on horse-drawn wagons, Model Ts and the carousel (turning to the tune of Christmas carols) were somewhat lengthy during our visit. (That’s another reason to dress warmly.)

    Upon our arrival this year, we headed directly to the skating rink since that was a top priority for everyone. I confess, I didn’t actually skate this time, but I enjoyed watching our children don the borrowed blades and make their attempts. It was a first try for our six-year-old, and she enjoyed it thoroughly. Near the end of the night, three of the kids went back for a second visit to the ice.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Tip three: Bring your appetite

    There are some great concession stands to add flavor to the night. There’s nothing quite like standing outside eating a hot fire-roasted beef sandwich smothered in caramelized onions. Or roasted chestnuts. Or steaming stew. Or any of the other yummy delights special to the event. We grabbed a cup of hot cocoa at the same place we usually grab a cool summertime treat, since frozen the custard stand was converted for more appropriate cold-weather fare. We’ve never done the dinner package at Eagle Tavern (which sells out lickety split). Maybe someday we’ll make that happen.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Tip four: Visit Santa

    Whether you have children with you or not, it’s quite a joy just standing back watching the reactions of little ones as Santa calls their names from atop the balcony of the Stephen Foster house. We made a sweet memory again this year, since our littlest is three and just ripe for the fun magic of Santa.

    Just before I caught up with my family to see Santa, my husband texted me that old jolly guy had just aided in a marriage proposal.

    Where was I? Our oldest daughter needed a band-aid, so I sought out security to get one. While I was waiting for a band-aid, my family was ooh-ing and ahh-ing with folks privy to the event. I unsuccessfully tried to track down the newly promised couple - after the fact - with hopes of snapping a photo, but I was met with conflicting reports from my apparently not-too-observant entourage.

    Tip five: Bring bandages

    See tip four. (Bah humbug.)

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Tip six: Stay late

    Even in the cold, there’s nothing bitter about the end of this sweet night out. A Christmas carol sing-a-long with fireworks is just the perfect icing for a great time and a fitting finale to a night that always makes me feel I’ve stepped inside a classic Currier and Ives Christmas illustration … but with the added bonus of glitter.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Christmas, Holiday Nights, holidays

    Mummer's the word

    December 19, 2012 Think THF

    Mummer may be the word, but if you ask my three-year-old, it’s a little more like “freaky.” He shied away from the costumed men parading in down Main Street during Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village. He asked me if the men suited in traditional Mummer-finery thought it was Halloween. (I think his exact words were: “What the? Halloween?”)

    Mummers and the practice of Mummering were popular through the mid 1800s in the northeastern United States. Although the custom has ancient origins, most of the men participating in the pageantry in the U.S. weren’t aware of that fact, according to Jim Johnson, who is senior manager of creative programs at Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Young men in villages dressed in costumes and masks, and went door to door. They would sing and dance, ask for food and drink, and if they weren’t given any, they’d come in and take it. Costumes were elaborate, often outlandish and grotesque, and to add to the fun, people pretended they didn't recognize each other.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Jim said that it was a practice primarily among the lower class, and a premise of the activity was role and class reversal.

    Mummering reached a pinnacle in the years before the Civil War, but at that time, Christmas in general was celebrated very differently compare with what we know of the holiday today. In some areas of the country, it was a rather raucous holiday celebrated by men taking to the streets.

    “If someone from that era was dropped into today's New Year's Eve celebrations in larger cities - with people gathering and shouting in the streets - they would indeed recognize that kind of holiday celebration,” Jim explained.

    Mummering died out before it made its way to Michigan. “By the time we were celebrating Christmas here - Mummering was something that was not a part of it,” Jim said.

    Mummers

    The costumes worn by the Mummers in Greenfield Village are inspired by

    illustrations and written accounts from the middle 1800s. Jim shared the above

    image of costumed paraders marching; it’s from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper,

    Jan. 18, 1862.

    To get a flavor of the fun and spectacle of the custom, the description from the paper offers more detail of the practice and of the dress donned by the participating Mummers:

    The 44th New York was encamped around Hall's Hill in present-day Arlington. The men found an interesting way to celebrate the holiday by organizing "a burlesque parade":

    All of the officers gave over their commands to the men. Bob Hitchcock, a member of the band, whose avoirdupois was about 300 pounds, was duly promoted and mustered as Colonel of the parade. He was dressed in a manner becoming his high rank. He was mounted upon a horse that surpassed in inferiority the famous Rozinante [Don Quixote's horse]. He rode with his face turned toward the horse's tail so that he might at all times watch his command. The horse was embellished with a pair of trousers on his fore legs, and a pair of drawers on his hind legs. . . The men were uniformed in most dissimilar and fantastic garbs. As a whole the rank and file easily surpassed Falstaff and his famous command. The commands given and the manner of their execution were unprecedented and quaint. The tactics of Scott, Hardee and Casey would be searched in vain to find precedent for those impromptu evolutions. The dress parade which followed was unique in its dissimilarity from anything promulgated in army regulations. No words can describe it. Frank Leslie's Illustrated paper only faintly depicted a short section of it but it lingers in the memory like a bright spot in that winter's experience of army life. (Nash 56.)

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village Mummers

    You can see the cage-like skirt on the Greenfield Village Mummer on the right was inspired by the 1862 illustration.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Mummer costumes were creatively made with whatever household materials available. The gentleman pictured above uses a quilt for a cape.

    Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

    Inspired by the rowdy reputation of Mummers of days gone by, the village masqueraders boldly address visitors to Holiday Nights and aren’t the least bit camera shy for those who want to take home a souvenir of their encounter.

    Philadelphia still honors the Mummering tradition with an annual New Year’s Day Mummers Parade – the oldest folk parade in the country. The glamorous and elaborate costumes for the parade have evolved greatly and bear little resemblance to the historic Mummer costumes represented at Greenfield Village.

    Christmas, Holiday Nights, holidays

    Design lovers have been celebrating the 100th birthday of Ray Eames, one half of the renowned Eames design duo, the past few days, bringing her role into the spotlight once again.

    Ray and Charles rose to prominence in an era and an industry where men stood out with their achievements, often ignoring the accomplishments of their female counterparts. However, Charles always found a way to include Ray and highlight her work. At the end of the day, Ray was crucial to all components of Eames.

    Ray was trained as a painter and sculptor. She loved pattern and design - her office at 901 Washington Boulevard was filled with drawers of colorful papers as inspiration for the next project. Every design element was purposeful for Ray. Whether it be a fabric selection for a chair or the flower arrangements she placed on her own dining room table at home, every choice had been scrutinized. Ray didn't do things just to do them - she did it as part of a grander vision.

    Attention to detail was just one of Ray's well-known traits and was a critical element within their work. You see that with every piece of furniture they created. When you evaluate their portfolio over time, each model was better than the previous as the two tried to find just the right combination of materials in the finished products to make it, finally, perfect by their standards.

    As such a detail-oriented person, Ray's work was her life and her life was her work. Both she and Charles weren't the types of people to use "free time" to watch television or "hang out." Free time was time to start the next project or research new inspiration.

    It's impossible to fully disentangle Charles' and Ray's contributions to the overall Eames design achievement. Theirs was a creative partnership so completely entwined that teasing it apart only muddies their legacy.

    Eames