Pardon The Interruption and Leslie Lynch King!

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If it seemed like I ended my blog abruptly last night, well it was a technical error, and lost the last third of my text.  Too bad, I thought the Rutherford B. Hayes part was the most interesting. Anyway, sorry about that.  Let me resume where I left off.  

I made it to Fremont, Ohio and the grave site of Rutherford B. Hayes, completing the "trifecta."  As I said, I was only going to visit the tomb and head on to Grand Rapids, Michigan, some three hours away.  Since I was in Fremont by 3:00 pm, I figure I could spend a couple of hours there and still get to Grand Rapids by 8:00 pm.  

Rutherford B. Hayes is buried in a beautiful 25 acre wooded area which the family owned for more than 150 years.  It includes the house where Hayes retired to after the Presidency and his Presidential Library (the first one ever).  The wooded area called Spiegel Grove is open to the public and has a walking/running/riding trail meandering through it, along with a lot of very fat squirrels. Very beautiful. The gates are former White House gates and you can tell. 

 The property was originally purchased by Hayes' Uncle, Sardis Birchard in 1846.  Sardis named it Spiegel Grove because of the reflecting pools which collected on the property after a rain.  The German word for mirror is "spiegel."   The Hayes family inherited it when Uncle Sardis died.  It was lived in by members of the Hayes family until taken over by a Foundation in 1965. They still run it today.  The many trees on the grounds are beautiful and then as you near Hayes' grave, you see beautiful blue/purple flowers everywhere.  They are Siberian Squill (I had to ask).  They looked like violets to me.    

I would relinquished the $12 admission charge (including a $1 discount for senior citizens!) and took the 45 minute walking tour through the house and then browsed the museum.  After watching a 12 minute video on Hayes, I went on the tour.  I was the only one on the tour...again, I was not unhappy.  A gentleman about my age and with a similar love for history named Jim gave me the tour.  Quite a fascinating home.  Reminded me of the 20 minute walking tours I used to give of the Lincoln Home area in Springfield.  Very well done.  Afterwards, I browsed through the museum and saw the slippers.  What slippers?  Well, do you remember the movie "Lincoln" when Abraham got down on the floor where his son Tad has fallen asleep?  Lincoln gets on the floor and Tad wakes up and crawls on his back and Lincoln takes him to bed...the camera stays focused on the ragged looking slippers.  Well the slippers in the movie are an exact duplicate or slippers Lincoln gave to Rutherford B. Hayes and they have them in the museum.  Lots of other cool stuff.  

Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) was the 19th President of the United States; the one directly after Ulysses S. Grant.  He was a lawyer (Harvard educated) man who started his legal career in Cincinnati.  That's where he met a well-to-do Lexington, Kentucky woman by the name of Lucy Webb.  They married.  When the Civil War broke out Hayes joined and eventually became a General.  After the war, he was elected Governor of Ohio.  Hayes never wanted to be President.  He went so far as to tell everyone he would only serve one term, thus he would not be indebted to anyone.  And true to his word, he only ran and served one term.  He seemed to be a calming influence after the war and scandals of the Grant administration.  

He and Lucy retired to Spiegel Grove after his Presidency.  Interesting facts...he installed the first phone in the White House...and who did he call first?  Alexander Graham Bell...that's who! And Lucy began the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

They both died in the Spiegel Grove house and are buried only a few steps away from the home. My only regret is that they only get 10,000 visitors a year.  I remember Lincoln's Home getting 10,000 a week!  I tell you, if you are anywhere near Fremont, Ohio and don't stop by this place, you are really missing something.  

Since I hadn't had anything to eat since Tim Horton's I asked about a local restaurant.  Lady immediately said, the 818 Club.  What sounded like a gentleman's club turned out to be a very nice bar/restaurant.  A grilled cheese and tortilla soup later and I was on my way to Grand Rapids.

On the way I went through both Ann Arbor (Big Blue!) and East Lansing (Spartans)...I thought about several of my friends who are graduates and avid fans.  The drivers between Ann Arbor and East Lansing had to be the fastest I have encountered.  Speed limit is 70 and I'm +5 and these guys are blowing my doors off going around me!

Made it to HI Express in Grandville, just a few miles south of Grand Rapids.  Regular $129...SF rate...$99...Oh yea!  After checking in, I headed to a steak house nearby...I had plenty of steak last night, so salad alone...well, with a few beers of course!

Up at 8:00 and checked my blog.  Noticed not all went through.  Damn, I hate recreating what I wrote.  Had to do it a few times in Europe...maddening!  Did what I could, but still couldn't get it to work, so after checking out headed to the Gerald R. Ford Museum and grave site.  

The grave site and museum are together.  I forked over some cash and after checking out the grave and paying my respects, I went through the museum.  That's when I got the shock of my life.  Ever hear of Leslie Lynch King, Jr.?   Well me neither until today.  Gerald R. Ford was born Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1913.  How did I not know that?  Shortly thereafter, his mother divorced Leslie Lynch King Sr. and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to begin a new life.  She later married Gerald R. Ford Sr. and soon the couple began calling the boy Gerald R. Ford Jr. The name wasn't officially changed until 1935 when Ford was 22 years old.  I never knew that.  

 The rest of the museum was about the 1970s and how Ford had never wanted to be President.  He was never elected President.  He was named VP by Nixon when Spiro Agnew was forced to resign.  And became President when Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandall in 1974.  I know that because that was the year we got married.  Ford had come a long way since being born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.  He served out Nixon's term and was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976.  Ford did get to preside over our nation's bicentennial.  I also remember one of the Manson Family (Squeaky Fromm) tried to shoot him in California. He survived.  He didn't die until in 2006.  

As I left, I noticed a group of people going into an auditorium.  I asked and was informed that these people were becoming US Citizens today.  Made me very happy.  Guess I picked a good day to come.  

As I have commented, the Grand River was very high.  It flows right past the Ford Museum.  I asked the guy who took my money for the museum if the river was always that high.  He said, "No, in fact, we have a local freelance artist who draws pictures of Mr. Ford all over town.  He drew one near water level last year.  We can't even see the drawing this Spring."  Oh, yea, the river is high!      

After my visit to Grand Rapids I was off to home.  Maybe one last stop...White Castle in Joliet.  I can't go there with Sandy...she hates them.  I don't!

Got home about 2:30 Central Time with six Presidential gravesites down and 32 to go!  Off to a good start.  

Sorry about all the technical difficulties.  Hope you get this!  I have added pics from this and previous stories!

Stay safe my friends and family.                                                   
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