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Great Weather for the Medicis of Michigan

It's been unseasonably warm this month so far. For February that is.  Usually this blustery, clammy cloudy weather saves itself for late March around here. This is the second year in a row that February has been a bit of a respite from the usual arctic tundra conditions. I don't miss the constant Lake Effect snow that is normally part of the February/March axis here in West Michigan. Spring is almost here and I always appreciate taking my daily stroll without the 30 pounds of extra clothing.

               The recent confirmation of Betsy DeVos  to Trump's cabinet has focused national attention upon the DeVos family that we've lived with here in West Michigan for decades. If you want an idea about their influence and status here in the Grand Rapids/Holland Corridor think about the Medicis and Florence during the 1500s in Italy. The DeVos family very much thinks of this part of Michigan as their fiefdom and we are but the serfs who live here at their pleasure.  I myself have had many, many close associations with them in a service capacity.  I was personal chef to the president of Hope College in Holland for 16 years and as the DeVos family was one of the major contributors to the college; I had a lot of opportunities to cook for them.  The usual "rich people behaving badly" thing doesn't apply to them - they are well mannered, polite and pretty buttoned down. What I took away from my interactions with them was a sort of benign dismisiveness.  You never forgot that you were a servant when you were around them, but they never overtly treated you as such.  It was all in the look in their eyes and body language and tone when they said "Thank You." or "Could you get me..."  The children were about the same way only with another layer of  loftiness - to the kids you were truly invisible.  One time we were catering a barbeque at Betsy's brother's compound in the wilds of West Michigan - Eric Prince, founder of the infamous private army company, Blackwater .  We were schleping boxes of food prep through the main house to the back deck because for some reason we weren't allowed to wander around too much outside.  I remember a gaggle of the teenaged kids hanging out in the sunroom off the deck and having to open the door outside every single time while they all sat there studiously ignoring "the caterers" and not even getting up once or even offering to open the door.  Now this could be attributed to typical teenaged sloth and lack of awareness but I had cooked for nearly all of these kid's various birthdays, graduations and such throughout their lives and this behavior had been ever thus.  We were servants and therefore invisible.


               And all of us had to be vetted via security check each time we did an event at Eric's compound or at any of the DeVos' homes or event venues - I have been sniffed and snorted on by their security German Shepards many many times.  The worst time was when Eric gave a speech at the opening Tulip Time luncheon hosted by the governor.  All of us were forced to stand in a line against a wall and have the dogs walk up and down sniffing everyone for bombs and weapons that might be used to kill or maim Eric.  A lot of the younger college student help and young workers we had subcontracted from a local vocational high school were shook up about this - especially the younger girls who had to endure a dog snorting around up their skirts in front of everyone. This is the brother that Betsy grew up with. So I'm not surprised at anything she or anyone in her family comes up with. Particularly when it comes to how they view the Rest of Us and how they see themselves in the grand scheme of things.  Again, I refer you to the Medicis.


Here is a great overview of the DeVos clan and their legacy here in my neck of the woods:

https://thebaffler.com/blog/holy-warriors-against-the-welfare-state


Mind you I really love where I live and I think Grand Rapids is one of the better, more beautiful cities I've visited and I would love to live their someday.  I might just get used to seeing the DeVos name everywhere - hell, I already am.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
mallorys_camera
Feb. 12th, 2017 10:08 pm (UTC)
They sound creepy. But empires rise and fall...
basefinder
Feb. 13th, 2017 04:51 am (UTC)
Seeing her during her confirmation, I just imagined her thinking "Ask me anything you want during this formality, but then you have to confirm me regardless of my answers to your silly questions."

And so they did.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )