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Grand Rapids and Beyond

Ford and Vandenberg (Wikimedia Commons)

Arthur Vandenberg was a very important senator during the ’30s and ’40s, and just into the ’50s. A Republican from Michigan, he was a leader of the isolationists; during the war, he became a key internationalist. In his life, he grappled with issues that are still with us today, big-time.

He has a superb biographer, also from Michigan: Hendrik Meijer. Vandenberg was from Grand Rapids; Gerald Ford was from Grand Rapids; so is Hank Meijer (as he is known).

The Meijer name is royal in Michigan. The author’s grandfather, also named Hendrik Meijer, founded the chain of stores — now “superstores” — called “Meijer” (or, in Michigan fashion, “Meijer’s”). (We don’t say we work at “Ford,” we say we work “out to Ford’s.”) Hank Meijer is executive chairman of the company. The Vandenberg biography was written in his spare time, so to speak.

What are you doing in your spare time? What am I?

I wrote about the book in a two-part series, here and here. And now, on my Q&A podcast, I have interviewed Meijer. Go here. He is just what you would want in an interviewee: clear, informed, and affable. We talk about Vandenberg, and the issues associated with his life. We also talk about other things, such as Jerry Ford.

And how about this? Steve Forbes ran for office, a high one. Michael Bloomberg ran for office, a slightly less high one. Why not Meijer? One could do a lot worse.

Anyway, join us for a podcast Michigan-specific, national, and international.

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