Monday, 24 August 2015

Good Neighbours - Edison, Ford and Firestone.

People from the Northern United States and Canada have been travelling to Florida for the winter since the 19th century so this isn't a modern day fashion. The difference is that the earlier snowbirds had lots of money and bought winter homes in the Sunshine State.

Three of these gentlemen were friends and neighbours in Fort Myers - Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. One invented rubber made from Goldenrod, one made cars and the third made tyres. Put the three together and you can see the result in Edison's garage at the home in Fort Myers.

The home is actually two houses, the second one containing the guest bedrooms. Set in lush gardens the two story white houses have red roofs and the main one is surrounded by a wide patio - like a large outdoor sitting room. When the houses were built central heating hadn't been invented so it was, obviously, cooler to lounge outside. Can't you just picture the men having an afternoon nap there?

The rooms themselves open onto the patio and into each other to help any passing breezes keep the rooms cool.

All of the rooms are beautifully furnished. The living room has sofas and chairs and a well-stocked bookcase. The dining room has the table laid with hand painted china, crystal and silverware.

Lighting throughout the house is, of course, electric and consists of ten brass chandeliers and electroliers that were originally in the Edison home at Menlo Park (New Jersey). Some of the bulbs are ones that were invented by Edison - and they are still working.

Following a tour around the house there is a visit to the laboratory and a chance to look in the museum to see examples of some of the many items that Edison invented.

A blooming Lipstick Tree
The beautiful gardens are filled, not only with native trees, shrubs and flowers, but also with plants from other continents. He would experiment with various plants to see what could be made from them - such as the tyre from goldenrod.

The adjoining Henry Ford house is also open to the public. Some evenings when the friends were all in residence they would roll back the living room carpets and square dance. The caller? Henry Ford. I would have loved to have seen them and their guests on one of those evenings!


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