Thursday, June 19, 2008

Go Fast, Go Slow

Washington DC (see the picture)
N 38 52.736 W 077 01.507

Nag nag. I take a day or two off blogging and the complaints come in. Oh well; I know that people are reading.

Jenny had an easy trip down here on Tuesday. She walked from her house to the Burlington Airport, then flew on a direct flight to BWI (Baltimore). Then she caught a bus to Greenbelt from BWI. When she arrived at Greenbelt I was there to meet her. We rode the Metro subway to L'Enfant station, and then rode the circulator bus to the marina. I must say that public transportation here in Washington is remarkably easy to use and inexpensive.

Yesterday we started out to go to the Holocaust Museum, but when we got there, the lines were much too long. We went to the Natural History Museum instead. Libby and Jenny went to the live butterfly exhibit. Then we had lunch in Chinatown, shopped in the Chinese store, and went to the American Art Museum. In the museum we took the guided tour of the art conservation laboratories that they have there. That was very interesting.

After the museum, Jenny was feeling sick. Uh Oh. Jenny's boyfriend Christian is back in Vermont sick with a fever. It sounds like Jenny is coming down with the same bug.

Today, Libby and I left Jennycalone on the boat to rest and recover. We went off on our own. We saw the Post Office Museum, Union Station, and the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building.

Well, we could hardly have picked three more beautiful buildings in the world to visit on one day. All three are massive vaulted and domed buildings made of the finest marble. We just love the 19th century tastes in architecture. We've been to some of the grandest train stations in America and Europe, but we never saw one nearly as grand as Washington's Union Station. Amazingly, it was built with private money despite its location.

The restoration stories are also stunning. The DC post office had this marvelous building, but the covered over the marble with formica and installed dropped ceilings. Later, as the building was restored by the Smithsonian Foundation, the marble was replaced with new marble. The cost is incalculable. Similarly, Union Station was in disrepair, covered with mold and ready to fall down. It was rescued in 1988 by then-Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole.

Above, left-to-right, top-to-bottom:
  • This mail stage said, "White River Junction and Woodstock", obviously from Vermont.

  • A Stinson mail plane dragging a hook to pick up mail bags on the fly.

  • Who remembers seeing vmail? During WWII letters were written on flimsy paper, folded as envelopes, then microfilmed to make the Atlantic crossing. We had vmail long before email.

  • One sees how tight passengers were packed on the overland stage. They had to sit there for 25 days to reach the coast.

  • My Uncle Duck was a postmaster. He once took me to the train where they had a rig like this one (see the train car and the hook?). He hung the mail sack on a hook. The train came by at 90mph and WHAM, the bag was gone. A new bag flew out on to the ground. I remember it seemed very violent to a young boy. There were two other old men in our tour who also remember the train mail system.

  • We used to have an RD#1 address. Here we can see where it comes from.

  • Union Station
  • more Union Station

  • The rotunda in The Library of Congress

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