Feb 1, 2016

Learning about Pres. Ford, Art, and Mammoths in Ann Arbor

The Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor on the University of  Michigan’s campus has the President Ford’s baby book indicating that his birth name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr. He didn’t change his name legally until he was 22. Ford was born in Omaha, Nebraska but was raised in Grand Rapids and graduated from the University of Michigan where he played football. He earned the designation of Most Valuable Player and was offered a position on both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.  Instead he went to Yale, a life changing decision.

The Ford Library collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public a plethora of archival material dealing with Ford’s political and personal life. Ford was a well-liked congressman and became vice president under Nixon when Spiro Agnew resigned, then became the 38th president of the United States following Richard Nixon's resignation, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. In the lobby there is a permanent exhibit called “The Remarkable Life and Times of Gerald and Betty Ford” that define the tumulus 70s. When Ford took the oath of office as the 38th President, he declared, "I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances...This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts." 

The University of Michigan can claim to be where the Peace Corps
started.  Well after midnight on Oct. 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy arrived at the Michigan Union after a long day of campaigning for the presidency. In his speech he challenged University of Michigan students to dedicate themselves to global peace and justice by living and working in developing nations—and hundreds responded with signed petitions; from that powerful idea and the action of the U-M students grew the Peace Corps.

While on campus we took time to wander around observing the public. I am not an art aficionado so maybe that is why I was underwhelmed by Maya Lin’s Wave Field which is considering an “an artistic treasure.”  It is a wave of earthen mounds the appearance of which changes as the sunlight casts shadows on it.  Maybe I would be more appreciative if I visited on a sunny day.  I did, however, enjoy touring the University’s Art Museum where I could identify with much of the art. In the magnificent entry way is “Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii’ who led friends through the ash covered city. 

The Museum of Natural History has exhibits on geology, the evolution of life, dinosaurs, and artifacts from human cultures around the world. They are justly proud of their newest acquisition – a recently unearthed mammoth. The mammoth was discovered by a farmer digging to install a drainage pipe.  How exciting that must have been. Mammoths roamed the area 11,000 years ago.  The surface of the molar was the size a print left by a very large man’s shoe. 

Not far from the campus away tucked in a mall is one of my
favorite restaurants in the Ann Arbor area, Ayse’ Turkish Café. Don’t be fooled by the lack of curb appeal the food is awesome.  Think of it as eating at a friend’s house.  Ayse doesn’t have printed menus because she cooks what she likes based on the fresh ingredients she can get but she always has stuffed peppers, my personal favorite. If you have never been to Ayse’s, considering ordering a couple of dishes and sharing them.