For an account leading up to this blog, see my post from two weeks ago, “How the Other Half Lives.” May 6, 2016
At the appointed time, Dave and I, along with about a hundred other people, gathered in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan. My knee length dress, aubergine crepe, with sequin trim made me feel glamorous. Well worth the extra money I’d spent on it. Strappy, high heeled sandals and a petite, novelty handbag completed my outfit. Or should I say ensemble? I’d had my hair done in the hotel salon. Dave looked handsome in his suite. The lobby glittered with friends and family dressed to the nines.
A ripple of excitement ran through the crowd as the concierge announced that our cars had arrived. Thirty-nine limousines! Parked three by three under the hotel canopy and down the street as far as I could see. He, and other hotel employees, guided us through an orderly departure. As Dave and I waited for our turn, I heard a ruckus. One of the guests, the president of another country, complained loudly that his car couldn’t get through to pick him up and, no, he would not walk to where it hovered at the end of the line of our cars. I noticed the singer/song writer Neal Sedaka pacing back and forth near the doors. I assumed he was waiting for a car as well. Getting our people into the limos took some time. Mr.Sedaka continued to pace and look at his watch. The president continued to raise a fuss. I feared an international incident. Finally, Mr. Sedaka informed the concierge that he didn’t want to risk being late for his show and that he was going to walk to his car. The concierge apologized profusely. Mr. Sedaka gave him a no-problem shrug and went on his way. Class act in more than one way!
Lovett Hall stands on the grounds of Greenfield Village, a nineteenth century, small town created by Henry Ford from antique buildings and houses. Although a newer building, it’s design fit perfectly into the surroundings. I particularly liked its pillars and windows on the outside and the wooden floors, beautiful, curved stairway, and the many tiered chandeliers inside. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were served in the reception area while all of the limos dropped of guests. Our host and hostess and the guests of honor greeted us.
After about an hour, we were invited to go upstairs and into the main ballroom and dinning area. It was stunning. Wide plank, wooden floor. Tall windows framed by elegant draperies. An abundance of flowers and candles for center pieces. We took our places at the tables. A small army of servers brought out trays laden with covered plates. The aroma of the food made me hungry. I became aware of a server behind me. I heard the clatter of a plate slipping of the tray. Then I felt a warm ooze sliding down my back. In an instant, a supervisor appeared offering frantic apologies. Two uniformed women mopped my back with cloth napkins.
I grabbed his hand, squeezed it, and said, “Listen to me! I do not want a scene. Understand?” He nodded. I released his hand. “Thank you. When these ladies have done their best, I’m going to the lady’s room. I need someone to walk very closely behind me.” He nodded and issued orders. I looked at the women, “Is the worst of it gone?” They fussed for another moment. Finally I said, “Let’s go.” I managed to walk all the way across the ballroom, in front of hundreds of people, without anyone noticing my predicament.
Once in the restroom, I took off my dress to survey the damage. The women with me offered to use slightly dampened hand towels to further clean the back of my dress. Once that was done, they carefully held my dress under a hot air hand drier. Except for a few odd looks I received from women surprised to find me sitting half naked on a lovely, wing back chair upholstered in a floral print, no was aware that anything out of the ordinary had happened. Not even Dave, who, upon my return, asked where I had been and pointed out that I’d missed dinner. The supervisor came to me and said Lovett Hall would pay to have my dress dry cleaned and asked if I’d like to have dinner. I declined, complimented the women who had helped me, and thanked him for not making a scene. Then I requested a dessert.
The entertainment for the evening included a family history film written, produced, and directed in Hollywood. Can you say special effects? Very clever and funny. An orchestra took the stage and Michael Buble put on a great show. He invited our host and hostess and the guests of honor onto the dance floor. And then he invited everyone else to dance while he performed old fashioned love songs. It was very romantic. So was going out onto the balcony for a breath of fresh air and to see the view of the village. Antique building lighted up from the inside. Flickering gas street lamps. Beautiful!
Late in the evening, we called for a car and made our way to the hotel. I wasn’t ready to sleep. I went up to the top floor lounge, asked for a soda, and settle at a table with a view of the Downriver, the gritty location of massive factories and the families of skilled laborers. I’d grown up there never thinking I’d have a chance at putin’ on the Ritz – even for one night. Great fun while it had lasted, but, in the morning, I’d be on a plane back to reality. No regrets because, as Dorothy famously said, “There’s no place like home.”