June 14--Less than three days after the announcement of Ford's acquisition of the Michigan Central Station, Edsel Ford II, a member of the Ford Motor Co. board of directors, reflected on his memories of visiting the Detroit landmark.
Ford made the comments Wednesday evening after the unveiling of a new sculpture of Henry and Clara Ford at the Dearborn estate where they once lived.
"One of the stories I love to tell is every so often, my grandmother, Mrs. Edsel Ford, used to call me up on the phone and say, 'I have to go to New York. Will you take me?' " Ford told the Free Press at Fair Lane, home of Clara and Henry Ford.
"And I used to say to her, 'Well Granny, what does that mean?' She said, 'Well, I have two staterooms: one for you, and one for me, and we're to going to New York if you'd be willing to accompany me.'
"We'd be driven to the car, the car we were sleeping in, the Pullman car. And the Pullman men would greet us, and off we would go."
Ford said he accompanied his grandmother on the trip many times as a young man in the 1960s. Many years later, he had a surprise encounter with a train worker.
"In the '80s, my wife and I were having lunch in New York City at a place called the Auto Pub," Ford continued. "I went into the men's room to wash my hands, and at that point in time, there were washroom attendants, and they were African-American, and this man out of the blue turned to me and he said, 'You're Edsel Ford, aren't you?'
"Twenty years had gone by, maybe 25 years. I said, 'Yes I am.' He said, 'You're not going to believe this, but I used to take care of you and your grandmother on the train, as I was a Pullman attendant.' And if I wasn't fairly young, I might have passed out," Ford said, smiling.
"When I see the train station, something much more personal comes to mind."
Minutes earlier, Ford, other members of the Ford family and several guests celebrated the unveiling of life-size bronze sculptures of Henry and Clara Ford in the Early Rose Garden at Fair Lane.
The sculpture, by New York-based StudioEIS, took 25 people 18 months to complete. Lynn Ford Alandt, great granddaughter of Clara and Henry, and her husband, Paul Alandt, gifted it to the estate.
The piece depicts Clara Ford sitting on bench overlooking her beloved garden. Henry Ford is standing at her side. In the background behind him is the powerhouse that supplied energy to the estate and also housed his workshop.
The Alandts and Ivan Schwartz, founder of StudioEIS, pulled off black covers to reveal the sculpture as the crowd applauded.
Schwartz said the artisans had plenty of pictures of Henry Ford to work with when creating the piece, but fewer pictures of Clara exist. The creative process included bringing in actors to help them find the perfect pose.
Edsel Ford II said he was pleased with the sculpture.
"It's wonderful," he said. "I think it looks like Clara and Henry, and I like where it's positioned ... having the powerhouse behind Henry and the rose garden in front of Clara."
Dave Metzner, one of the gardeners at the estate, also liked it.
"It's in a good place," he said, motioning to the powerhouse. "That's his beginning, right there."
Contact Ann Zaniewski: 313-222-6594 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski. Staff writer Phoebe Wall Howard contributed to this report.
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