It happens this way …
Tuesday, July 2: My dear sister/friend, Bernadette Pape who works for the Jesuits in Merion, Pennsylvania, came into town for a stroll and breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market. Although we hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years, it seemed like yesterday. These kinds of history-sharers are so special.
Then, Kathy and I met at the African American Museum. The top two floors are art museums; the lower, interactive spaces for children to draw and learn history.
“Whole Hole,” 2015 made with plastic pocket combs
“Mother’s Wisdom or Cotton Candy,” 2011. Photograph.
This re-enactment actor was telling a room full of school children the story of a young slave girl who saved George Washington’s life. She had prepared his favorite sweetpea dish and saw a strange man sneak in and sprinkle something on it. She didn’t know the man or what he had done until she heard Washington’s aides discuss the possibility of spies in the area. Just as George was about to eat the dish, she put two and two together, grabbed the plate, and threw it out the window. Of course, the men in the room were astonished and were going to arrest her until they saw the chickens out in the yard eat the peas and drop dead. What would have happened to history without the young slave who paid attention?
The Second Bank Portrait Gallery houses this incredible statue of George Washington and portraits of many of the men who shaped the young republic. We heard two of many free lectures on the history of the time delivered by well-informed Park Service Rangers, the caretakers of sites like these.
Kathy got tickets for a 4:00 p.m. tour of Independence Hall. Another Park Ranger gave us more insight into the arguments and compromises the Founders battled through. The forgotten art: compromise! Although most of the pieces of furniture are replicas, the original chair Washington sat in was the real deal.
Take a moment to read this. It is revolutionary — and still a work-in-progress.
Washington’s chair sits in front of this room where delegates hammered out the details of the Constitution. The top features a half-sun. Benjamin Franklin is purported to have wondered if it was a sun-rise or a sun-set since the future of the new government was still so precarious. However, he concluded that, indeed, it was a sunrise, giving the “American experiment” a positive spin. We’re still experimenting, no?
A violent thunderstorm hit the city tonight, so we were happy to hunker down and regroup for the next day’s activities.