Good-bye, Grand Rapids


Cancer Bitch has returned from Grand Rapids, the town where Gerald Ford is still a hero. She had many adventures there. Among them:
She found that her friend B, who invited her to Aquinas College (after she asked him to), is more nature-phobic than she is. She did not know that that was possible. She is a Fresh Air Fiend in comparison. Unlike B, she can identify common flowers and and likes bugs and worms. She especially likes to watch the beetle family. B does not. He considers nature to be dangerous partly because there are bugs. She became self-conscious about pointing out flora and fauna to B because she thought that he would think that she did not deserve her nature-fearing credentials. Cancer Bitch is mostly afraid of nature because it gives her asthma. Also, it bores her and makes her feel empty and that the universe has no meaning.
B and Cancer Bitch, therefore, walked around looking at Italianate and Romanesque buildings downtown. They also visited the outside of the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in GR. It is owned by Steelcase, one of the furniture manufacturers in town. Herman Miller is HQed there, which explains the Aeron chairs in the Writing Department meeting room at Grand Valley State University. Wright built the house for Meyer May. Cancer Bitch read the historic marker in front of the house: This house was built in 1908-1909 for local clothier Meyer S. May and his wife, Sophie Amberg. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the house in the Prairie style. It was his first major commission in Michigan. May was the son of Abraham May, founder of A. May and Sons clothing store. In 1906, Meyer became president of the store, which was the first in the nation to display clothes on Batts hangers. Meyer May lived here until his death in 1936. The house was used as a private residence until 1985. In 1986, Steelcase Incorporated began the complete restoration of the house, its interior and grounds. Meyer. Bing. Amberg. Bing bing. Son of Abraham. Bing bing. Clothier. Bing bing bing. Sophie. Bing. Her Jew-dar had sprung into action. She wanted to mention this to B but she was embarrassed at how Jew-centric she is. Though on GR campuses there seemed to be a dearth of Jews, so that being Jewish was odd enough to make Jews an *interesting, exotic* minority. As a Jewish student told her: I don't want to be exotic.
The question is, of course, what are Batts hangers and why are they important enough to be mentioned in a historical marker? And a corollary: Was May so unremarkable that his second most famous purchase was hangers for his store?
Batts, Inc., in Zeeland, MI, made wooden hangers until that division was bought out in 1999. So May bought local.

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