Monday, March 23, 2015

History Lessons

Lee, Ann, and Ben on the Mall, fighting to keep their lunch from the seagulls
This week will mark a grand adventure, for Blake and I are journeying to our nation's capital and Lizzie, Gabe, and Abbie are going with us.
Four years ago, Aaron accompanied us to Washington, D.C., taking his first trip on a jet and allowing his grandma and grandpa to experience the wonders of the city was a great trip for all of us, though not without the kinds of anecdotes that make travel endlessly fascinating and eventually become family lore.

But Washington, D.C. has lots of room for history.

My folks chose the summer of 1964 to take our family pilgrimage to DC. We rode the train east, taking the B&O Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington. Instead of the Pullman sleeper, I believe we slept in a roomette where the seats facing each other folded down into beds. What I remember most about the train trip are the green green valleys of the eastern mountains and the gritty backyards of the steel mills in Pittsburgh, all part of the same state. We were so anxious to get to DC that industrial Baltimore seemed to go on forever....

Washington in the summer was a combination of the white heat of sidewalks and the cool interiors of museums.
We ate in cafeterias with Granny and Grandpa, walked the length of the Mall from the Tidal Basin to the Supreme Court,
went to the top of the Washington Monument,
saw Mt. Vernon from an excursion boat, and watched the sun set over Arlington from the steps of Lincoln Memorial as the Marine Band played for us on the banks of the Potomac.
We ate ice cream to cool off.

Fast forward thirty plus years. Millie and Charlie knew someone who knew someone who got us inside the White House one evening for a tour of the West Wing. (This was before Millie got so close to Vice-President Biden).

From 1801 to 1932, anyone could go to the White House during the New Year's reception. But it 's been a long time since it was easy to visit the White House; back in the sixties,sunrise in Washington would see lines of tourists stretching for blocks awaiting their turn to enter. When we strolled through the halls of the White House after dark and took turns peering around the corner of the Oval office, it was a surreal and unforgettable experience, not at all something some Tarkio farmers should be doing. But Ann provided us a pungent dose of reality when she declared within the hearing of the White House press secretary that the White House bathrooms we walked by "smelled bad!

Blake just got back from a Learning Tour of Cuba, hearing from Cuban officials and touring some Cuban farms. But years ago, our entire Farm Bureau entourage was invited to supper by the Cuban Interest section stationed in another nation's embassy. We filled our plates with shredded pork and beans and rice under the watchful (and hungry) eyes of some of our hosts for the evening. After our group had listened to the speeches and made our goodbyes, everyone, including the kids, received a souvenir of the evening....a long Cuban cigar! As we left the premises and boarded the bus, we saw the guards making short work of the leftover beans and rice from our supper.
Who knows what adventures, what famous people, what glorious sights, will find their way into family history from this week's trip to Washington, D.C.? Lizzie already has a long list compiled; we will do our best to complete her every wish! You can bet there will be pictures aplenty and souvenirs galore.....and I'll let you know all about time....

No comments:

Post a Comment