CHAPTER 53. Driving around Detroit

As the Factory closes all day Saturday I decided to do some writing and I had also taken to the hotel a large portfolio of bank material to study. This was not done.

Before I had breakfast Tom Turvey rang to say he was coming down with his wife to take us out for the day. He came down to the hotel and it was very pleasing to meet someone from home so unexpectedly. On the first morning of his arrival he told me that he had thought of me as he was passing the Burroughs Factory. We had a good yarn and then packed into the car and started out.

World Tour 1938
The Ford Factory in the distance with portion of the immense parking area in foreground for cars of Ford employees. Taken on a Sunday

He drove us out to the Ford Factory, but as it was Saturday of course no work was being done. He then took us to see a most unusual type of building opposite the Ford Executive Office. It was originally built for the Chicago Exhibition to hold the Ford exhibit. Afterwards it was pulled down and removed to its present site at Detroit.

It is built of stone and concrete and is circular in shape with high walls on the outside. The interior is used as a show room for all the Ford products. On the walls are very large photographs of all the important stages of the manufacture of the cars. Even if I did not see the factory I now have a very good idea of how the work is carried out.

We could have spent much more time here, but we had to move on as it was lunchtime.

World Tour 1938
the Dearborn Inn at Henry Fords Greenfield Village

We seemed to be driving for quite a long time still through the property of Henry Ford before we arrived at the Dearborn Inn, a delightful structure built to provide accommodation for visitors to Henry Ford’s Edison Institute Museum and Greenfield Village. This is one of the many excellent ideas of Henry Ford which he has put into practical operation for the benefit of the nation.


World Tour 1938
The Floral Clock built in Henry Ford’s Greenfield model village and flowers and grass are growing to produce the many bright colours

200 acres have been set aside by this man for the village and the museum. The museum is not one of the ordinary type. The fact that it has been brought into existence by Henry Ford is sufficient to make one expect something different.

It has a floor space of 350,000 square feet. It contains exhibits illustrative of agriculture, manufacture and transportation. We saw the earliest implements used in preparing the soil for the crop. It can be imagined that such things as the old wooden ploughs up to the latest complete harvesting would take a great deal of space.

It is in this that the museum is so different. It is not a general museum, but it deals completely with the special subjects it is handling.

World Tour 1938
The wind mill was brought from Holland

In manufacture we saw the development of the modern steam and electrical plants from the very first models made. These early models must have been difficult to find and costly to obtain, but effort and expense are not considered by Ford in this undertaking. From the very small engine we saw a complete power station for generating electricity. The fly wheel of one of these units was approximately 20 feet in diameter and weighed many tons.

All types of locomotion were included in the transportation exhibit. We saw chariots, ox sledges, ox cats, barrows, perambulators, bicycles, aeroplanes, boats and locomotives. The last named were on railway tracks and included a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket and many other complete railway engines up to an express engine of the modern type which has been running across the American continent.

Never before have I seen such huge exhibits in a museum. There were a number of ‘planes, including the Stinson which was first to fly around the world, the Junkers which made the first east to west Atlantic crossing and Admiral Byrd’s north and south pole ‘planes. There was one bicycle which carried ten persons and this is the largest and only one of its kind ever built. I have only mentioned a few of the many interesting items.

World Tour 1938
The model Jewellers Shop which also has the Chimes


World Tour 1938
the famous chimes at the Greenfield Village

The Greenfield Village is a part of the museum and regarded in this light the exhibits here are the largest in the world and will probably remain so. Here the handicrafts of the past are preserved as they were practised in their original environment. There is an old village blacksmith’s shop complete in every respect and it contains a working blacksmith. This was moved from some country place to its present position. There is an old and early type of mill and it is still used for making flour which can be purchased by visitors. The old post office was most interesting and Ford was successful in getting permission for it to continue as such, so that postcards and letters can be sent therefrom. Edison’s laboratory and his old homestead were brought some hundreds of miles from Chicago so that they could be kept for the nation in this museum.

World Tour 1938
Included in Henry Ford’s model village at Greenfield were houses from other parts of the world. Mr Ford purchased these partly or in whole from the lands concerned. Here we see an actual English home which was purchased in a country village of England. It was then carefully pulled down, shipped to America and then rebuilt as you see it today. Trees, flowers, pathways, stone fence, and other details are all English.

There was an old stone cottage which was pulled down carefully in a village in England, shipped to America and now stands in the village complete with English flower garden and trees and shrubs.

World Tour 1938
A Dutch home and artifical lake

Yes, it was a most ambitious scheme, but because Henry ford wanted it and made it his hobby it is there and although not yet complete it will certainly be completed. We did not have time to go to all the cottages and other buildings, but we saw most of it.

Then we went for a drive to Toledo, Ohio, between five and ten p.m.

World Tour 1938
at Toledo Ohio


World Tour 1938
A wayside novelty store at Toledo Ohio

We stopped at a pottery on the way through and had a look at the many beautiful pieces which were for sale. The lady in charge was trying to get Rozie to buy something, but she told her that they were too big to take back to New Zealand. The lady replied, “Oh, you come from New Zealand! Did you motor through?”

We get many amusing remarks about New Zealand. The other day Lois was in a drug store and the man serving her asked if she was Canadian. She replied, “No, I come from New Zealand.” He went on wrapping up the parcel and seemed to be puzzling it out. Then he said, “Where did you learn to speak English?”

World Tour 1938
The dividing line between Canada and USA – the Detroit River. USA is on the left and Canada on the right. I crossed the river on the bridge and drove under it in a tunnel

Next day being Sunday, Tom brought his car to the hotel to take us out again. On this occasion we drove about 200 miles in a terrific heat. We first crossed into Canada by the Ambassador Bridge, which is claimed to be one of the largest suspension bridges in the world.

Here we were held up by the usual customs officers. As Tom had been over to Canada previously he knew one of the officers and this man turned out to be a friend of Joe Morris, the City Librarian of Wellington. We had a yarn and made arrangements for a dinner at a later date.

We followed the shore of Lake St. Clair as far as Sarnia, which is a small town at the entrance to Lake Huron. Here we went across by ferry and went once more into the United States, passing the customs and immigration officials once more. It was about ten o’clock when we reached Detroit. Notwithstanding the heat, the drive was most interesting and enjoyable. It was exceedingly pleasant to spend such a day with friends from our home land.

World Tour 1938
the magic mirror





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