When the infamous staircase from the
The embassy staircase was used by hundreds fleeing during the fall of
- Also remembering Grand Rapids’ favorite son last week was another foundation board member, Seymour Padnos, who helped launch Ford’s political career a half century ago.
With his brother Stuart, the 86-year-old
“For a couple of upstarts to start promoting an unknown who was not Dutch in that area was not a particularly popular position,” said Padnos, who is retired from Louis Padnos Iron & Metal Co. “My brother and I were just fresh out of the Army. Ford came sounding to us like a new voice out of the woods, so we challenged the local powers to take on that campaign.”
Padnos said they slapped campaign posters for Ford all over their fleet of trucks. The Padnos brothers so rankled the status quo that the mayor of Holland called their father, company founder Louis Padnos, to imply that the family’s scrap metal business would suffer if their campaigning continued.
“That didn’t deter my dad one bit,” he said. “Ford carried
- In 1995, Ford participated in a live online chat sponsored by the Scholastic publishing company, fielding dozens of questions from classrooms across the nation. A
third-grader asked how he made the decision to pardon President Richard Nixon, and if he ever regretted doing so. California
Ford: “I have never regretted my decision to pardon Mr. Nixon. … In the first few weeks that I was president, I was facing a serious economic recession in the
“I finally decided the only way to spend 100 percent of my time on the serious problems of the federal government and 30 million citizens was to get rid of the time spent on Mr. Nixon’s tapes and papers …”
- For sitting as Commander-in-Chief during such a troubled time, Ford’s life was filled with laughter. He famously traded barbs with Bob Hope on the golf course, and one of the more unique artifacts in the museum collection is the head of a San Diego Chicken costume, worn by a White House correspondent as a press conference prank in 1976.
There was also
- At the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, Commandant Frank Snarski said that a line of veterans had come to his office with requests to visit the museum this week. At press time, Snarski was not sure if that could be arranged, as the heightened security and traffic around the museum severely complicated the logistics of moving a busload of seniors.
Among residents with hopes to attend the wake was William Merrill, an 83-year-old attorney recently retired from Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett after a debilitating stroke. Merrill received a visit earlier this year from an important figure in Ford’s life, Charles Colson, Nixon’s former chief counsel.Thirty-two years prior, Merrill, then Watergate Associate Special Prosecutor, had sent Colson and a crew of Nixon’s other henchmen to prison.
- If not for an early warning from a TV news report,
residents Tim England and Rob Kent would have been quite surprised by the flood of TV crews that appeared on their front lawn soon after Wednesday morning. Grand Rapids
“It looked like an invasion from space,” said
By Thursday afternoon,
From the sound of it, when the Business Journal rang that morning, the Ford house had become an impromptu media hospitality room, with
“By no means has it become an intrusion or a big hassle,” said
After the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, Ford sent the pair a letter a letter of thanks. In the following years, he occasionally stopped by to visit.