Greenfield Village, 29 July 1936

from Jean Smith’s diary of her trip to United States of America on Queen Mary, July 22nd to August 31st, 1936.

We took a bus out to Greenfield Village erected by Henry Ford. A most marvellous place. We got off and went in to Dearborn Inn first to lunch. We took bus again from Inn to go round the village. There was the church, school and blacksmith’s shop, the shepherd’s cottage from the Cotswolds, every stone marked and numbered to be erected again as it used to be. A beautiful day for getting about. Not too hot and just a nice breeze blowing.

We were too late getting round to reach Museum before it closed, so we got bus which took us round to the Rotunda, a round building of steel and marble. In here we went to the cinema which showed us the development of Ford Cars. V8 and Lincoln Zephyr. We were shown the furnaces and workshops and every stage before the completion of the car. A most comfortable building and also very entertaining pictures. We now came into the building and began a tour of inspection. Huge pictures on the walls showing workers busy making parts of the car. A globe revolved showing the sources for all materials used in the industry. The products obtained from all corners of the globe. Some beautiful cars, the last word in finish, upholstery and comfort. All sorts of vans on exhibition too. Everything just marvellous. Then we went through another doorway in to the room where the huge globe is fixed showing in yellow the parts of the earth where the material is obtained for the production of the cars. This building was circular and open to the sky. Plants were growing all round and the blue and grey effects were most attractive. Surely this is more than one can conceive – a tremendous industry. As the globe revolved we were able to see the yellow blocks indicating where the material is obtained.

Another place we went to showed a contour map of North America and small cars were running around. Fords passing all the rest! Lakes shown clearly on this map.

We dragged ourselves out at last, much to my chagrin, and caught a streetcar back to Detroit. Strange cars. Driver sits at entrance and ticket collector sits in the centre of the car. Coins put in a slot for tickets. This is the system for buses also but driver sits beside the machine.

After my parents’ death I cleared their home and found a diary of a visit to the United States which my great aunt had made in 1936. I passed the diary on to her local historical society, but kept the text of her visit to the Ford plant and museum at Dearborn, Detroit, Michigan.

Aunt Jean describes how Ford imported raw materials from all over the world. She was awestruck, and marveled at this as a wonderful piece of organization. What she did not do was to question whether America had the right to make such use of the world’s resources – as a nation we all continued to admire and envy America’s lifestyle and prosperity for long after her visit.

We have now come to reconsider and deplore America’s use of resources. Before we do this we should realize we are making much the same claim on the world’s resources, which puts us in the same position - we should give our own use of materials the same scrutiny.