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Monday, June 25, 2012

Kids' Last Day: The Titanic Exhibit At The Henry Ford

Me, JD and a last minute Ellis on the Grand staircase of the Titanic.

 We got up at the crack of dawn. Though my back and legs were still killing me from my efforts to make a young and fun impression on my grandkids over the last two weeks, I was going to go the the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village come hell or highwater. The place opened at nine thirty. I figured we had to get there early while my legs had the get-up-and-got. We got there at ten thirty. Not a bad time considering six people, two of them the age who can never find their shoes, had to dress, eat and find their way to the car. Our destination was The Titanic Exhibition. Who would think that kids ages 12 and 10 would be so intent upon seeing the treasurers from a ship that sank so very long ago? Not me. I would have been okay with spending the day at the "pond."

The Henry Ford Museum was spectacular. Huge. The Titanic was a "traveling exhibition." in just a small section of the museum, which is dedicated to vehicles--trains, planes and automobiles (of course). I was restricted from taking my own photographs in the Titanic section; they wanted to make some money beyond the $150 we paid for admission. In spite of Honey's objections, I couldn't resist the additional cost of a photo on a replica of the grand staircase. After all, the staircase was the most outstanding work of craftsmanship on the great ship that sunk like a rock. And I didn't get up and get dressed and get out so early in the morning to not get the key photo of our excursion! Honey's a funny guy.

The photograph behind Jon's head is of the actual boarding of the Titanic.
Could one of those ladies in those grand hats been Maria? Maybe.
One of the most interesting things the museum did with this exhibition was to give every exhibition sightseer a boarding pass that bore the name of someone who had actually been on the ship.  I was Mrs. Victor de Satode Penasco (Maria). I was 17 years old, from Madrid, Spain. Victor and I were newlyweds on our two year long honeymoon.  In Paris, we had decided to extend our trip and travel on the Titanic to NewYork and back in spite of warnings from Victor's Mom that going on a ship on your honeymoon was bad luck. We were traveling in first class along with the Guggenheims, Asters and Straus'.  Victor was very wealthy.

Poor Ellis was in third class. He was Mr. Edward Ryan from Ballinareen, County Tipperary, Ireland. He was immigrating to Troy, New York where his sister lived; he hoped to find work there.

Charles Lindberge's plane that was the first solo flight from
New York to Paris in 1927. It was a single engine plane.
Of our group, only I was first class.  Everybody else was second.  Unfortunately, standing in line to board the exhibit ship, first class passengers didn't get to board first. I had to stand in line with the rest of riff-raff! Can you believe that. I was appalled. We had a great time imagining what it was like back then while we stood in the admission line.

At the end of the exhibit, you got to see if your passenger survived. The only one in our family group who didn't survive was Ellis. Mr. Edward  Ryan went down with the ship.  So did Maria's husband Victor. At seventeen, Maria was a very wealthy woman.

We had a memorable time. After the Titanic we walked through the museum of vehicles.

The 1956 Ford Thunderbird, a knock-out automobile out of Detroit

Edison's Dynamo Generator that was operable

JD and Erin pumping electricity from the Dynamo
into the Tower of Light. They could have used a stronger hand
to help. The dynamo had the capacity to light up the whole tower.
Awesome  exhibit. Edison's Menlo Park,laboratory is located now
in Greenfield Village. 
After lunch in Dearborn, Ellis and I went home to ice our knees. The kids went, would you believe, to the movies.  As I write, I just know they are going to want to go the the lake one more time. I'm going to watch, or maybe just wave them on to have a good last swim in a real lake, albeit a pond, after seeing Lake Michigan, the second largest lake of the Five Great Ones: Superior, Michigan, Erie, Huron, Ontario, the largest fresh bodies of water  in the world. Tomorrow, at 4AM  their Midwest adventure ends. I'll probably cry.


  1. I assume that you had a great time. I were at a exhibit too about Titanic many years ago. No staircase and such but with items from the wreckage.

    1. The staircase, the stateroom set ups, the hallways, the engine room, the iceberg were all constructed by the craftsmen at Greenfield Village. The artifacts--glassware, dishes jewelry, wrought iron embellishments, faucets and sinks and chamber pots were all protected in special glass cases that were pressurized. The artifact that caught my interest was the bathroom tiles. They were made by Villeroy and Bose, the company I specked for many of my bathroom renovations. I never realized the company was that old. It was an impressive exhibition on the 100 year anniversary. I was glad Erin insisted that we go.

  2. A wonderful read about your adventures with your family on the Titanic! I can see you had a great time!

    1. We did Judy. It's a quarter after four in the morning. We just hugged and kissed and said our teary goodbyes. We won't see them again till next year. I really do hate my family being scattered around the the country. Family life was richer when I was growing up. At least everybody lived in the same town. Now hundreds of dollars have to be spent to keep in touch. I hate it.

  3. Gracias Linda por estas fotos del museo. Mi hijo no paraba de observar la foto de la escalera del Titanic, el tema le entusiasma. Hiciste muy bien en hacer la foto, la entrada fue cara y tu realizaste un gran esfuerzo para ir, pero veo que disfrutásteis mucho del día. Me alegro y un abrazo.

    1. I had a great time. I do much better in museums than I do in rafts and at the zoo in hot sun and cold shade. Museums I guess are in my blood. What delighted me about the staircase was that it had been duplicated beautifully by some very talented finish carpenters. Having been in the business for over twenty years designing moulding and staircases and...The staircase was my cup of tea. You could have the rest of the artifacts. But I also liked how visitors were given boarding passes with the names of the actual passengers telling us who they are and where they were from and where they were going. The most memorable was Mrs.Isadore Straus (Rosalie Ida) who chose to stay with her husband and go down with the ship. She was the one who said, "Where you go, I will go too." Sends a chill up my neck.

  4. Family's central to life ... it's sadly devalued these days. At least you can rest for a few days before recalling it in paint.

    Never mind Titanic, I would have gone for Lindberge's 'Spirit' if nothing else, one of my 'heroes'

    1. Mine too. They have a wonderful collection of planes, cars and trains and farming equipment, machinery-- plus spectacular furniture designs like the Eames chair and how that was fabricated.. You could spend days there.

      I'm not going to paint any of this vacation except maybe take a stab at JD full figure. That was the best photo I got out of the kids. Plus I've never attempted that before.

  5. Linda, you have been doing so many cool things with your family!!! The Titanic exhibit looks impressive, and I'm glad you had your photo taken on that glorious staircase! And that '56 Ford T-bird is such a beauty! Now you and Honey can rest, and ice your knees [ any remedy for sore hips ? ], and know your family had a great visit.

    1. We all did Kathryn. My sore hip comes from arthritis in my lower spine. Back stretches have solved that problem as well as the knee problem. I learned a lot about handling my aches and pains at physical therapy.

  6. Replies
    1. All we could have--and it started the minute they walked in the door.