February 2005               

                We are still enjoying the warm, sunny weather in Florida.  Although we have had some cool days, overall it has been great outdoor weather this month.  We have enjoyed being able to sit outside under our awning and watch the world go by our site.  As we are on the main street of the park, there is a lot of activity going on to watch. 

            We attended the Florida State Fair on Senior Day.  We had a great time walking around and viewing the exhibits.  The day we attended was also the day the draft horse pulls were taking place and we watched the action on one weight class.  We found the method used for the weight pulled by the teams here is different from anything we had seen before. Instead of pulling a sled with weights added, the teams pulled a truck with some sort of weight system on it.  The truck was pulled backwards.  Interesting to say the least. 

            There was a very large exhibit of needlework, crafts and quilts that Millie really enjoyed looking at.  This is the only State Fair we have attended that even has a competition for aquariums for tropical fish.  As it always takes Millie much longer to go through the exhibits, Dick cruised through and then found some entertainment to watch while he waited for Millie. 

            We visited Cracker Country, a permanent display on the grounds that contains buildings from early settlers to Florida.  These buildings have been moved here and a recreated pioneer village established.  Craftspeople were also demonstrating methods from the era.  Sugar cane being pressed using a mule, sewing on a hand cranked machine, building methods, etc.  We came away with a couple of bags of freshly made pork rinds (they were still warm). 

            Of course, we had all the great fair food too.  Funnel cakes, cotton candy, snow cones, etc.  Itís all part of attending a fair.

            One beautiful Friday morning we drove south to Ft. Meyers.  We found our way to the Edison-Ford Estates.  After a long wait in line, we secured our tickets for the tour. 

            Thomas Edison and his business partner Ezra Gulliland came to Ft. Meyers in 1885 and within 24 hours had purchased land fronting the Caloosahatchee River.  They constructed identical homes of pre-cut lumber from Maine. Edison also built a laboratory in which he could work.

            In 1886 Edison and his second wife, Mina moved into their new house which they named Seminole Lodge.

            Edison and his partner had a falling out and the Edisons didnít come to Ft. Meyers from 1887 to 1900.  Edison purchased his former partnerís house and converted it to a guest house.  The family continued to spend their winters in Ft. Meyers. 

            In 1916 Henry Ford purchased a home next to Edisonís so he could be near his friend and fellow inventor.  He named his bungalow Mangoes. Ford requested permission from Edison to remove the electrical lab from Ft. Meyers to Greenfield Village in Michigan in 1925, on the condition that Ford build a Botanic Experimental Lab on the property to replace the electrical lab. 

            Edison became involved in experiments to find a new source of rubber.  He planted various plants on the property and had somewhat success in the lowly Goldenrod plant.   Many of the exotic plants still exist on the property.  Of particular interest is a 400 foot Banyan Tree.  This amazing tree was a gift to Edison and was only 4 feet tall when planted. 

            Unfortunately, after purchasing our tickets, we were informed that the Edison house is undergoing repairs and is not open for the tour.  We were able to view the lower rooms of the guest house.  We were also given tickets to return and tour the house for free when the repairs are completed. 

            Mangoes, the home of Henry and Clara Ford is a modest home for someone of the stature of the Fords.  It is a small house and we were only able to tour the downstairs.  The Ford family usually only spent 2 weeks every winter at the house.  Ford was responsible for resurrecting our American form of dance, the Square Dance.  The parlor of the house hosted square dances when the family was in residence. 

            The Ford garage contains several antique cars produced by the Ford Motor Company. 

            We toured the Botanical Laboratory.  The lab was left as it was the last time Edison was there.  He would often catch a nap on a cot in his office when he was working.  Mina had the cot placed there after finding Edison sleeping on the floor. 

            We also took a ride on a reproduction of Edisonís electric boat.  The cruise on the river lasted about 45 minutes and it was a great day to be out on the water.  We were even treated to seeing some dolphins.  Our captain told us that on some trips the dolphins will follow the boat playing in the wake, but not this day. 

            Edison died in 1931 and in 1947 his wife donated Seminole Lodge to the city.  The Ford property was purchased by the city in 1988. 

            A museum containing examples of Edisonís inventions and mementos of his life is also on the property.  An excellent film on his inventions and business ventures is also shown. 

            The remainder of the month was spent doing everyday things such as house cleaning, laundry, etc.  Millie has worked on some cross- stitch and Dick has been transferring some of his recorded movies onto DVDís.