Tuesday, May 06, 2008

History Lessons at Historic Places that Are Historic

Today, for a change of pace, we decided to do something that had nothing whatsoever to do with Washington DC and/or the Federal government. I say "we" because Abigail took the day off work to accompany me, which was nice of her, particularly since she has the car (I kid, I kid. . .). So we made our way to Alexandria, a former port and current bastion of cute on the Potomac.

I joke, but I actually do enjoy historic buildings, at least in limited doses. Which is appropriate, since the first place we went to (we bought the three-site pass for a three-dollar savings) was an apothecary that dated back to before the revolution. It was cool to see what is basically the origins of my own field, and how much of said origins relied on bleeding, mercury pills and good old superstition. Or, as we like to call it, Thursday.

Then it was on to the Carlyle House, a lovingly restored home from the 1750's, where the British once held a meeting to plan a disastrously bad decision in the French and Indian War. A good portion of the museum was dedicated to John Carlyle, the shipping magnate who was the original owner. They go into some detail about his life, and it was an interesting life, but what it really came down to was that his major historic achievement was to build a sturdy stone house in a time and a place where most of the buildings were significantly less permanent. That, and the fact that one of the most interesting exhibits was a portion of wood the restorers had uncovered that had the builder's original chalk marks, gave one to think about what we are actually likely to leave behind in this world.

Me, I'm counting on my lasting impact in the field of marionette theater.

Then, in order to stave off historic building fatigue, we broke for lunch. It's important to pace yourself with this kind of thing.

Is this getting boring? I'm afraid it might be getting boring. The truth is, while it was a lovely day, with nice weather and pleasant surroundings and interesting things to learn, these are not the things that make a good blog post. On the other hand, at least judging by past comments, the things that make for a good blog post involved being tired, hungry, cranky and lost somewhere in the middle of Texas, I think I'll stick with boring.

Anyway, our third and final historic building was a tavern where, drum roll... George Washington ate! Four times! One thing you learn very quickly here is that anything can be made more important by some sort of association with our first president. Another thing is that if a tour guide ever speaks obliquely about an individual, "a young man who lived nearby," for example, they always mean Washington and it's never exactly a surprise because it's on the display card in the exhibit.

After that, and with the sense that we had learned all that was worth knowing about historic Alexandria, we spent the rest of the afternoon poking around in the many shops, during which time I managed to not purchase a single thing. I wonder if I'm coming down with something. Dinner was with my cousin Jake and his wife Jenn, who got married right around this time last year and are a lot of fun. It was a brief visit, but that was okay, since they're coming out west in a few weeks. As are, oddly enough, Lisa and Abigail, though fortunately not all at the same time. Is it something about my presence that causes people to migrate to California, albeit temporarily? Hard to say, but I'll be testing the theory when I myself fly home tomorrow night, which may cause a delay in blogging, since I'll be getting in too late to do anything but face-plant in my pillow and, knowing me, I'm not likely to leave too much time before I have to go to the airport. So, later.

1 comment:

Alice said...

The comment about the sturdy house as a lasting achievement made me laugh out loud! Thanks for a mid morning giggle.