Our Kalamazoo Shanghai reunion started with the Meet-and-Greet at the downtown Radisson Hotel. Most everyone divided up and ate somewhere close by and then headed to our rooms for sleep.!! We had over 30 attendees this year. A few had to cancel due to various reasons and we hope they are all well and will join us next year in Boston.!!
The next day we all climbed on board the bus and headed to Grand Rapids where we started our tour of The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park which is a 158 acre botanical and outdoor sculpture Park. It truly is a beautiful park with gorgeous flowers and sculpture. There were expansive displays of Chrysanthemums & pumpkins of all colors and shapes. The trees hadn’t changed colors yet but it all was lovely just the same.
They had a very nice visitor center with all sorts of things you could buy from pictures, cards, jewelry to books, towels and dishes. First, we toured the indoor gardens of Southwestern cacti and other arid loving plants. Then moved on to a butterfly room that they stock with butterfly chrysalis’s and wait for them to emerge as butterflies. They stay in this room and eventually are let out. It wasn’t butterfly time when we were there but I can imagine it’s quite a site to see when they all hatch.!
We had a nice lunch in the cafeteria before heading out to the trams to see the sculpture gardens which were magnificent.! You’ll have to look at the pictures to see how beautiful it was … another thought ….. is go see it for yourself.!!!
Afterwards, we headed back to the Radisson, and everyone took off in different directions for dinner. Some ate at the hotel and others went exploring for places to eat.! We found a great place about 4 blocks away from the hotel. It was called “Food Dance” which was very good.!
The next day we went to to the W. K. Kellogg home which was built as a summer home by cereal pioneer W.K. Kellogg in 1925-26. W.K. Kellogg Manor House is a classic example of Tudor Revival architecture, with leaded glass bay windows, oak-coffered ceilings and beautiful Rookwood tile fireplaces and bathrooms. The Manor House sits 110 feet above Gull Lake. The 32-acre Kellogg estate also includes a carriage house, greenhouse with potting shed, a caretaker's cottage, boathouse, an authentic Dutch windmill and picturesque gardens. The family lived there until 1942.
Kellogg then gave permission for the house to be used by the Coast Guard as an induction and training center. With the end of World War II a need for rehabilitation centers arose. As the number of wounded soldiers rose, the Manor House was converted into an estate for injured veterans. In 1951 ownership of the estate changed hands. Upon Mr. Kellogg’s death, the Manor House and its surrounding land was given to Michigan State University. From the 32 acres and outbuildings the Kellogg Biological Station was formed. The Manor House was recently restored to its original grandeur and is now open for tours. The two-story home is now used for conferences and weddings.
Next, we went to the Gilmore Car Museum which is located in Hickory Corners, Michigan. The museum houses one of Michigan’s largest collections of classic and vintage cars. They had over 350 antique cars & motorcycles that are spread out over 90 acres. They are on display in over a dozen vintage buildings. The museum started in early 1960 when Donald S. Gilmore began collecting vintage automobiles. They are mainly U.S. cars - but it’s quite a collection. Some of us could find cars that our parents had had or that we had owned a LONG TIME AGO.!!!
Our last evening there was held at The Park Club which has quite a history. It’s housed in a Victorian mansion. The club has 11 dining rooms that off a variety of settings for every occasion.
During the last quarter of the 19th century, Kalamazoo was called “the most elegant town in the Midwest”. It had 3 men’s clubs: The Kalamazoo, The Academy, and The Cosmopolitan. In 1904 the 3 clubs merged and bought the Nathaniel Balch home which faced Bronson Park - thus, they named the new place, The Park Club.
We had a delightful evening, eating and talking about everything from China escapades to how things are going today.
Near the end of the evening the presentations for more reunions were presented:
For 2020, Boston by Rita & Scott Gudorf have already gotten a harbor tour, city tour, hotel, and date fixed( October 1-4). A couple of points; afternoon and evenings will by open ( on your own), Watch the website in late January for more details,
2021 proposals ranging from Mackinac Island (presented by Dave Sherman), Various California options and Lake Geneva ( by Sue Jones), Thorpe McConville wrapped it up with a good, low-key Louisville presentation. After some serious voting, the group selected Louisville by a landslide for 2021( maybe the Bourbon reference swung the vote)
Finally, the hosts, Tom & Carla Obringer, were presented with gifts of Michigan Book and Michigan shaped necklace . They put a ton of work into the event and it really showed. It was good planning on their part to bring in almost perfect weather !!
Overall, it was a great reunion. Seems like we move about a bit slower than in years past. However, it is absolutely amazing that this group continues this tradition after 19 years !
We are all primed for the 20th in Boston and hope everyone can join us.!