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Friday, April 5, 2013

Catch Up 1: Philadelphia

I have been lazy  my down time this week catching up on our activities, but I am on vacation after all.

When last I posted we had finished our delicious Philly cheesesteak on Monday evening.  Tuesday we headed out into a very brisk Spring morning, if the thermometer not quite hitting forty with gusty winds is your definition of brisk; otherwise it was a cold morning.  We walked a few blocks to Mrs. K's Koffee Shop for breakfast.  Mrs. K's being an iconoclastic hold out against sleek design and made name beverage joints.  Two large U-shaped counters with old fashioned stools provide all the seating while waitresses who aren't trying to schmooze you into a bigger tip just do there job--which for me means a bigger tip.

With an afternoon train to New York we had a hard time deadline so we strapped on our walking shoes and headed out.  Our first stop was the very large Visitor's Center to inquire about tickets for a tour of Independence Hall.  We were given tickets for 12:45 which provided us just enough time to get back to the hotel, pack up our great and catch a cab to the station so we would be early for our train.

It also provided us time to play "Catch-Mama's-Friend" as she learned her friend from high school, Diane Brown Sass, was in Philly as a teacher/chaperone for a passel if eighth graders.  Through Benjamin Franklin's burial site (headstones for many entombed there so old the inscriptions worn off from centuries of weather), through Christ Church (still active, current minister is only the tenth since the Revolution; we have had forty-four Presidents and this church has had ten ministers in 235 years), past Betsy Ross' house, and finally a shuffling herd of the American Teenager headed our way, heads down, hands stuffed in pockets, semi-glazed eyes.  We have successfully tracked our target.

While Leslie and Diane caught up we joined the migration, our girls falling into the shuffling pace with hands stuffed in pockets. After a tour of Franklin's print shop we peeled off for our tour.

As a child I had been on countless trips to Independence Hall and just as many tours. Every time we had friends or family visiting, which was often, my mom would be their your guide: Hershey, Amish country, Valley Forge, Art Museum, and always Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.  In those days you could still touch the bell and sit in the seats in Constitution Hall--I would always sit in the same seat and the guide would say, "that young man is sitting where James Madison day."  In a pinch I could give the tours myself.

Back to 2013, the tour to me was not worth the free admission other than the opportunity for the girls to get an idea of how small the find were where the Continental Congress met.  Void of many details and giving a too broad and empty talk on the whole Revolutionary period in about thirty minutes the tour is doing a disservice to our nation's history.

As we rode the train to New York I thought of my mom and all the days she dragged my siblings and I on tours and sight-seeing trips and laughed inwardly for two reasons.  First because somewhere she is getting a chuckle as she sees me taking he role and dragging my somewhat recalcitrant daughters through history giving them lessons and stories on where they are and what they are seeing.  Second because she and I both know that all those trips paid off--she imbued me with history and knowledge that I still have and care enough about to try to do for my children what she did for hers.

Thanks Mom!


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