July 17-18, 2017, Philadelphia-
After treating my mother to breakfast, at Saugus’ downtown cafe, Hammersmith Inn, I bid farewell to the town of my childhood, and headed towards Pennsylvania, and more family bonding. My middle brother spent a good many of his working years in Pennsyvania, lastly in the Main Line precincts of Chester Springs. Two of his children still live in the Philadelphia area. He and my sister-in-law were here visiting, so this was a natural stop, for a day or so.
I took my now customary route, south and west, stopping first at Newtown, CT, where I have been intending to visit the small reflection area, where Sandy Hook Elementary stood, at the time of the massacre of 2012. I was, of course, unable to do that last year, with my car trouble. No such issue rose this year, so I stopped, prayed and reflected, with the new Sandy Hook Elementary School behind me, and many people carrying on the business of summer school.
Freedom allows people to make some odd choices, as those who threatened the lives of the victims’ families did, in the wake of the tragedy. Thankfully, no harm has come to any parents or siblings of those slain.
I drove down I- 84 & 81, at one point having to detour through Middletown, NY, ironically the place where I first took the dying Nissan, last summer. Again, there were no issues with my trusty Hyundai. I continued to a place which has come to feel much like home, these past six years: Glick’s Greenhouse, Oley. After a lovely welcoming dinner and some quiet time, I was honoured by this sunset:
The next morning, with a breakfast to match the dinner, I bid farewell to my Oley family. For those who remember Cider, the Glick’s old collie, Manny- his successor, is getting the hang of greenhouse life.
I headed south and east, into the Main Line area, and connected with my Georgia siblings, at their hotel, then went to a deli-style restaurant, in the town of Wayne. Nudy’s Cafe is a thoroughly tasteful establishment, with wonderful food and attentive, well-dressed servers.
After this repast, Dave and I headed to the Museum of the American Revolution, in downtown Philadelphia, experiencing relatively mild traffic, en route. The first sight greeting the visitor, in the area of 2nd St and Chestnut, is a statue of Pennsylvania’s founder: William Penn.
The Museum of the American Revolution, itself, is less than a block from this little square. It is just south of the domed building in the foreground.
The entrance posits the challenge that may well have been a battle cry, in the years just prior to the outright rebellion.
I stood in front of the copper engraving depicting the First Continental Congress.
The Declaration of Independence is adjacent to the museum entrance, as well.
Inside, the Museum offers a complete, and well-balanced depiction of the experiences of both sides, in the conflict, and of those trapped in the middle- the merchants and the Quaker pacifists. Most of the exhibits did not lend themselves to photography, being in dimmer light, with no flash photography allowed. I did get a few shots, first being the Philadelphia Liberty Tree.
The Patriots were not, at least initially, a unified force. Disagreements between townsmen of the Northeast and woodsmen from the Appalachians and the Ohio Valley had to be mediated, with George Washington reportedly directly intervening, at least once. The boy on the lower left recalled this, in his memoirs, later in life.
The more iconic scene, of Washington crossing the Delaware River, is also given prominence.
The plight of African-American slaves, who were not uncommon in the northern colonies, any more than in the South, in the late 18th Century, is symbolized by this portrait and commentary by Mumbet, a Massachusetts woman, who won her freedom in court, after her master assaulted her, for having listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence. This case resulted in the prohibition of slavery in Massachusetts. Mumbet became Elizabeth Freeman, and lived out her days in Stockbridge, a town in the central Berkshire Hills.
The American experiment is far from perfect, but has resulted in the most diverse democracy on Earth, and still has so much to share, with those who want to study our nation’s experience. We will keep on going, experimenting, refining and retooling, hopefully so that the three generations shown below, and their fellows, will never again know oppression.
NEXT: Brandywine, and More of Downtown Philadelphia.