Jan 29 2013

Numbers fascinate me. Playing with numbers and their relationships really fascinates me. And, when those relationships are represented by years, I almost lose control.

For example, are you old enough to remember the Challenger Disaster, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded seventy-three seconds after launch? I wonder if you realize that was twenty-seven years ago today, January 28, 1986. Twenty-seven years. It doesn’t seem long at all. Twenty-seven years until now. I can close my eyes and feel like I’m there.

No, not at Cape Canaveral or Cape Kennedy, depending on your time period as to what the space center was called, but in my quilt store, up in the office where my store employees and I were watching the lift off. Watching and excited about the shuttle crew containing two woman astronauts, we followed Dr. Judith Resnick and elementary school teacher, Crista McAuliffe as they prepared to launch.

In June of 1983, Sally Ride had become the first woman in Space, but Dr. Resnick, a 1977 Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, had been selected as one of the first six women to be selected by NASA along with Sally Ride.  I identified with the two women astronauts, and considered gender the more restrictive factor in astronaut selection. There had been different racial types of people selected to be astronauts, but all of them had been men.

So, with me being gender discriminatory, which is never a good thing, my radar was not set to recognize the life long achievements of one of the other astronauts, Ronald McNair, a black man from South Carolina, the second black man in space. Just recently, I found a video on YouTube.com that was so very interesting, I decided to share it with my BlogHer friends today, the anniversary of when the Challenger exploded, twenty-seven years ago.


Revisiting the Space Shuttle Challenger and her Crew on January 28, 1986.

You see, when Ronald McNair was a little boy, black people were not allowed to visit a library in the white part of town and take out books. Did you know that? When Ronald was nine years old, in 1959, it was years after school desegregation laws went through officially, but long before the behavior of many people changed for the better. Ronald wanted to borrow some books from the library in his home town of Lake City, South Carolina, read about space and…

Well, why don’t I just share the video I like so much and let it tell the story. In fact, even better than a story, this will be an eye witness account of events in 1959, because the speaker is Ronald McNair’s brother, Carl.

Astronaut Ronald McNair started out as a little boy reading about space.

And so, my point is, I hear people on BlogHer and elsewhere fussing and fuming about the lack of change in rights and that’s right to do. Change is good and no, we are not as a society where we need or want to be to fully represent all the bounty of humankind. But, as we work to bring equality full circle, let us be thankful for what has been accomplished so far to insure people’s rights when it comes to race, gender, religious and sexual orientation.

Just as now, there were lots of us working very hard to affect change all along and although there is much left to do, we need to recognize and appreciate those who have come before. For every nasty librarian that wouldn’t let a little boy borrow books, there were others, such as the policemen in the video, who recognized injustice and put their employment on the line, to do the right thing, one small effective action at a time.

And, like I remember 1986, I remember 1959, the year the “new” Lincoln penny came out and the year Ronald McNair went to the library as a nine year old to borrow books. It’s amazing is that it was only twenty-seven years from the time the Ronald McNair borrowed those books against the wishes of the librarian, until he died that Challenger launch day as a nationally recognized Ph.D. in laser physics. Lots can happen in only twenty-seven years.

When I think of how society has changed so far, I am very thankful. The glass is half full. Twenty-seven years. It’s been only twenty-seven years since the Challenger Disaster, and it was only twenty-seven years before that, a young boy’s heart and mind shot for the stars, against all odds.

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Jan 21 2013

Previously, on Survivor, no wait…on SunbonnetSmart, I showed you a bird’s eye view of the preparations for President Obama’s 2nd Inauguration.

As I mentioned, it was all for Darcie, who has showed an interest in my travels. Well, how could I walk RIGHT PAST Darcie’s Canadian Embassy and not give her a better view of how she is being represented today during the festivities? Truth is, I couldn’t.

O Canada! A grand and glorious song!

First, for those in the United States who may not know that the “O Canada!” in my title is the country’s national anthem, please click on the video above and play it as you read the rest of the post, paying homage to our northern neighbor. Thank you.

At the corner of the building. It faces Constitution Avenue.

I was inspired to take photos showing how Canada has dressed for the Inauguration with signs, banners and a zillion Canadian flags. It was a tasteful display of Canadian heritage from above our northern boarder by a country determined to attend this party and be a show stopper. What a nice display of national pride. The red and white of the Canadian Maple Leaf flag looked so bright and cheerful in the sun.

From the East Building of the National Galley of Art.

Way to go, Canada! The building was SO BIG, though, it was hard for this roving reporter to get it all in in one definitive shot.  Across the street was too far away and on the sidewalk in front was too close. If I had any sense of gumption, I would have taken one for the BlogHer team and positioned myself in the middle of Constitution Avenue’s eight lanes of traffic.

On the sidewalk in front of the plaza of the Embassy’s east side.

But, with gumption being the operative word, that wasn’t about to happen. I did the best I could to cover the subject matter from a bevy of angles. The results are before you. For a professional shot minus some of the love, click here.

Put the specs on to read the sign congratulating Present Obama.

In the spring, summer and fall, when Washington’s climate is temperate, walking tours are popular. Here’s what one walking tour web site, D.C. Walkabout, has to say about the Canadian Embassy: “Did you know our northern neighbor is the second largest country in the world? It’s true, the home of the Maple leaf and ice hockey is even bigger than the United States. The Canadian Embassy maintains this larger than life grandeur. One of the most distinctive buildings in Washington D.C., in the heart of town on Pennsylvania Avenue, be sure to take a look at this incredible gem.”

The banner reads, “Canada Salutes President Obama.”

A painting class at the National Gallery was the gateway to a wonderful Saturday in D.C. Although one is never disappointed by visiting Washington, I was lucky enough to see the venue for all of the Inauguration pomp on my way to the East Building of the Gallery.

And, icing on the cake, what fun it was to see the Canadian Embassy “dressed for the ball,” while thinking of Darcie and all of our Canadian BlogHer friends.

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Nov 11 2012

As is my nature, I can consider myself an authority on any subject while in command of the least bit of knowledge.

So, before I met my husband, who was Active Duty U.S.M.C., when we met, I thought I knew all about military sacrifice and service. After all, my father had left college when he was drafted into World War II. My parents waited to get married until after the war and when they did, someone gave my mother ration coupons so she could get a new pair of shoes for the wedding.

Then, when I was eighteen months old, my father was recalled into the Korean War, they put all of their possessions in storage, rented out our house, plopped me in the car and headed out to Travis Air Force Base in California for two years. Hearing this story regularly over the years, I thought I understood what it takes to be in the military, but I was wrong.

Underway on the open ocean during the Persian Gulf War, 1990.
The side of the USS Guam, an amphibious assault ship, now
retired, decommissioned 25 August 1998.

Before I moved to the Marine Corps Air Station when I got married, I was unaccustomed to understanding just how young our “forces in readiness” really are. Sure you have many older men and women, those thirty years and above, but so many kids join right out of high school, that when you ride through the Camp, you see mostly young men eighteen to twenty three along with a representation of similarly aged women, so the average age is about twenty one.

Twenty one? Are you kidding me? Most of the Marines one sees, representing our forces ready to deploy on short notice, are an average age of twenty one? The thought of all these young men and women, many with full blown families going to fight with uncertain futures, paralyzes me.

And, I haven’t even mentioned the separations involved when my husband’s Squadron went on “floats” or sailed out as part of a MEU or Military Expeditionary Unit of five Navy Ships, 2,000 Marines and a Squadron for air support. When that happened, we didn’t get to see each other for six months at a time. SIX MONTHS at at time. Think of it. I don’t know how I made it. And, yet, I still didn’t know what military sacrifice is.

USS Nassau as seen from the USS Guam in port.
Rota, Spain March 1991.

Last week, when I was an Election Judge serving in Maryland for the General Election on November 6, 2012, I finally learned what military sacrifice is.

I was verifying voter’s registrations as they came in the door to the voting area after standing in line, sometimes as long as two hours. An older gentleman in a companion chair, a chair with wheels that is meant to be pushed by a companion, rather than self propelled by the sitter as in a wheel chair, was pushed up to my table. Many were waiting.

With him being older, and having pushed my Dad around in a companion chair for a couple years before he died, I quietly assumed his was elderly rather than disabled. So, for something warm and quick to say, I said, “My husband’s a Marine, looking at that hat you must be a Marine, too.”

“Why, YES! I’m a Marine. My father was a Marine, my wife was a Marine and my son was a Marine. And they’re all DEAD.” Taken aback, I couldn’t let it end there.

Knowing my Dad was in WWII and his age, I said, “You were in World War II?”

“Yes. I got through that just fine. Wasn’t shot until Korea.”

“Shot. Oh my! You were shot?”

“Yeah, I was shot. Why do you think I’m sitting in this wheelchair?”

He liked me. I liked him and I said, “All these years?” meaning that he had been in a wheelchair all these years, since he was was thirty years old. He nodded and we locked eyes, and I knew what I had to do

Somehow I found the voice to say the words while tearing up,
“Well, Semper Fi, Marine. Thank you for your service.”

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Nov 10 2012

The only problem with BlogHer is one establishes friends all over the place.

And, I do mean BlogHers live everywhere and anywhere. And, these close, warm, BlogHer friendships are based on more inter-personal communication than I’ve had with most people since my best friends in junior high. THAT close.

It’s true, the only problem I have with BlogHer is it’s relatively hard to visit and socialize in person with everyone on your favorite list of Peeps. It is also hard to personally reach out to support a Peep in need when hard times happen. Why, even if one baked the best family casserole with love, it would be impossible to deliver it to a recipient living two time zones away. So, how does one reach out to beloved BlogHers in their hours of need?

How does one show care and concern? The best way BlogHers know how.Virtually!

Comment Love is a great way to soothe ruffled feathers when a BlogHer is offended. A friendly word, a loving expression and a few moments of virtual attention mean the world to a BlogHer who’s written of a difficult situation in their life. And, never underestimate the power of Comment Love to express understanding for disappointments, for trying times and even heartbreaking personal losses.

But, hey! What do you do if you want to give more than Comment Love?

How about when someone is sick and in the hospital having tests or other such scary invasive procedures and has lived to tell about it? How about a post with a virtual get well card, wishing for a speedy recovery to let that BlogHer know they are loved and cherished?

And, how about if that person, or THAT WOMAN, loves retro kitchen furnishings and recipes, so much that she has a wonderful blog called, Retro-Food.com, A Love Song with Vintage Recipes. Well, by now, you’ve guess what I’m getting to…

BlogHer’s T.W. went into the hospital for tests and stayed there, what must have seemed like forever. She posted her feelings Tuesday, November 6, and you can read them by clicking here. But today, on Saturday, November 10, she came home, happy to be there and with the whole family happy to have her back.

So now, that she is feeling better, I am sending a virtual get well card, wishing her a speedy recovery. But, knowing what T.W. likes, it’s not just virtual, but also vintage.

It’s a get well card from the 1940s….take it away, Lipton:

The front of the Speedy Recovery for T.W. card.

Inside, there are good wishes and a retro tea bag.

Woo-Woo! How cool is that?

And, if we were all together, we could pass around this card and sign it. Sigh. But, once again, we’re ALL OVER the place, so you’ll have to leave your good wishes for T.W. in the Comments below.

And, T.W.,  let me be the first to wish you get better with each hour of each day and that soon, this hospital experience is just a distant memory. Welcome home!


With Love,

From SunbonnetSmart

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Apr 15 2012

The Titanic hit an iceberg, or so they say, the night of April 14, 1912, just before midnight.

She sank on April 15. It happened a hundred years ago, today.

The Titanic was built at a time of maritime travel command, when ocean travel provided access to other continents.

This postcard was mailed in 1908. It shows the fascination
with large ocean liners for upper class travel. It also shows
that Peeps travel in the best company.

My interest in the RMS Titanic seriously began when I saw the movie, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” in 1964. Molly Brown sailed on the Titanic at the last moment, when she learned her grandson was ill and she decided to cut short her holiday in Europe. She was a friend of the John Jacob Astor’s and she decided to go along back with them as they had already booked passage. When the Titanic sank, Molly Brown was famous for demanding her lifeboat, No. 6, go back to the scene and pick up survivors. John Jacob Astor did not survive.

When I moved to Denver, CO in the late 1970s, one of the first things I did was go and see the Molly Brown house where she lived in the heart of downtown Denver. The house was not in good shape and the future did not look good for this Victorian architectural treat. As it turns out, however, the house was saved and is now the Molly Brown House Museum, open to the public in all of its glory.

You can imagine the fuss at the Molly Brown House with this being the Centennial year of the Titanic’s  sinking. There is a Titanic Memorial Cruise in progress, as we speak, and a blogger, Janet Kalstrom is sailing with it, dressed as a Molly Brown persona. You can read her “Chasing Molly” blog, chock full of details and memorabilia, by clicking here.

It seems that history is not always as it seems.

So, I have been interested in the sinking of the Titanic for many years. Many younger people don’t realize that for the better part of my youth, the location of the ship was totally unknown.

When the technology became available to determine its location in 1985, I was spellbound with interest. Eventually, crews with deep water vessels were able to descend far down enough to take photos and send robots wandering through submerged cabins. To me, it was nothing short of miraculous. The coverage in National Geographic was spectacular and I eagerly followed every advance. Today, if you go to the National Geographic web site, there are many Centennial goodies to share.

It is easy with all of the recent technological advances and then, the big screen movie, “Titanic,” from James Cameron, to take viewing the submerged wreck for granted. But, for years, I daydreamed about the wreck, wondering if it would ever be found. I can’t think of another “WOW” movie moment equal to the transition of the opening scenes when the camera pans down the rail of the underwater wreck and then comes alive into the moment where the ship is loading passengers. I get chills just thinking about it.

Another BlogHer blogger, Sarah of “The Best Stuff”, shares her Centennial thoughts and loved the movie as I did.In fact, there are quite a few Titanic posts if one does a BlogHer search.

Another documentary on the possibilities…

But, as fascinating as all of that is, the really intriguing bits are the back story of feuding economic barons, who at the time, owned the world and control much of it. JP Morgan was the owner of the White Star Line, which owned RMS Titanic and John Jacob Astor, was a competitor.

Titanic’s Ghosts Documentary, thinking of those who died.


NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Jan 18 2012

Visiting “The Future” at the New York World’s Fair, 1964-1965,
while in 1960’s clothes.

When I was a kid, we looked to the future through a TV cartoon time warp called “The Jetsons.” Then, while we watched futuristic “programming” on TV, our parents were also being instructed by mass media that the future would bring better living to us all. We were told daily that the progress to take us blindly into the future would be better, much better than anything in the present. It was inferred that we should just trust whomever was bringing this to pass. And so, when the biggest international event of the decade occurred, the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City, we knew we were on the cusp of a wave that would carry us aloft to glorious destinies. We didn’t know where we were heading, but we knew we were getting there fast, and that it was going to be better, right?

Bell Telephone Pavillion: New York World’s Fair 1964-1965.
“Peace through Understanding” Moving chairs carry the Fairgoer
past animated exhibits tracing the history of communications.
Anyone may try out “picture phones” -phones equipped with TV
devices showing the person on the other end.

Bigger was better. Faster was better. More, stronger, cheaper was better. New and improved? Well, of course THAT was better. The words new and improved must mean something was really NEW and IMPROVED. It therefore must be better. The box said so, just as the TV had. Who could argue that the product wasn’t actually new and improved? And since the new and improved product was now and the old has-been product was then, this product in the present HAD to be better…but nothing compared to what it would be in the future!

The New York World’s Fair 1964-1965

And so, whirling in this vortex of progress, spiraling upwards, or so we thought, we became very impressionable to the idea that new was better and old served no purpose. Like modern lemmings, we followed the promises of the TV box that guided us through every day to “improve” our otherwise primitive lives. And so, our societal common sense undermined, we believed like children that modern was good and old fashioned was not only outdated, but bad. For example, I can remember visiting my mother’s family home where her cousin had “modernized” and replaced “all of those silly old, dark, heavy walnut doors and matching woodwork” hoping to bring a Federal Period house into the 20th century.

And here are people in 1965, trying their best to be
“Futuristic” with a lamp pole, sunburst wall clock and
“modern art” man-made fiber curtains.

And as fast was better, convenience overcame tried and true. I can remember my mother laughing, as she opened a loaf of spongy white Wonderbread, that Mrs. So-and-so made bread for her family every week. Nobody we knew had ever made bread. And then we went through all of elementary school, junior and senior high school with the same group of kids year, in and year out. We knew everything about everybody. Trust me, no one baked bread, no one, except Mrs. So-and-so. Buying convenience foods, opening cans, heating up frozen food, using cake mixes: no one we knew had mothers that did anything much more than that. On occasion, cookies might be made from scratch, but NEVER a cake.

Convenience and taste, not nutrition, were the selling points.
H-m-m-m. Wonder what chemicals were used to replicate the eggs?

According to the Joy of Baking:  “Eggs play a major role in cake
baking. Eggs add aeration to the batter, provide structure to
the cake, help bind the ingredients together, keep the cake moist
and add flavor and tenderness.”

Eggs sound important to a cake! What did they use instead?

The modern housewife was told by mass media advertising that convenience was the way of the future and the less done the better. It was the futuristic way to do things for those in the know. The whole concept of eating to nurture the body while promoting wellness was not considered. Nutritional content was not considered. The only things that seemed important were taste and convenience. And if that taste were stimulated by a chemical cocktail, no one seemed to mind or notice.

This hash commercial is odd for a number of reasons. You’ll see
that as long as women were invisible and could open a can of
hash, things were fine.

But, how did the woman and the hash feel about it?
And how nutritious was that dinner of canned hash and eggs?

Little by little, convenience foods became fast foods. It wasn’t that long before men, women and families began eating out more and more. In addition, as people ate out more often, cost became a concern and restaurants offering good “home cooking” were expensive compared to McDonald’s “four course meal with change from a dollar.” We were detached from the concept that what we ate physically became our bodies and minds. In fact, I can’t remember chemical additives or preservatives ever being commonly discussed. Maybe there was mention of nitrates and nitrites in hot dogs once in a while, but overall we ate without self awareness.

Now I understand that nutrient dense food is not only medicine, but provides the foundations for living. That’s why “The Jetson’s” putting a pill in a wall unit that looks prognostic of microwave ovens, closing the door and pushing a button to conveniently produce a plate full of food seems out of date. The concept is old fashioned, from when that was considered “modern” and is comically passe. People now know wholesome, unadulterated slow foodstuffs are truly the building blocks of life. Therefore, any quaint desire for convenience, at the expense of nutrition and wellness, has thankfully gone the way of the TV dinner.


Where do great meals begin?

Come to the Table brings you straight to the source of wonderful flavors, beauty, abundance, and pride of place—the small farms of California and the people who tend them season after season.
Alice Waters, the celebrated chef and food activist, introduces a remarkable group of resilient fresh-food artisans who are committed to keeping our food supply delicious, diverse, and safe—for humans and the planet. Meet the folks down on the farm and learn firsthand about the back-to-the-future small-farm economy that’s gaining strength across America. Discover new tastes and memorable traditions. Explore local flavors, wit, and wisdom along with the universal values of a food system that is “good, clean, and fair.” Recreate a range of sumptuous yet simple meals with the farmers’ own family recipes—including breakfast crostata and fresh-fruit jams, stuffed artichokes and black-eyed peas, chile relleno casseroles, pulled pork, and cheesecake.Sustainable food is real food.
Come to the table, and help yourself!

If you have an interest in this book, hover your mouse over:

Slow Food Nation’s Come to the Table: The Slow Food Way of Living

NaBloPoMo January 2012

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Nov 08 2011

Laura Hawkins grew up across the street from Samuel Clemens,
known as Mark Twain. She was the real Becky Thatcher.

Samuel Clemens wrote under a pen name of Mark Twain, writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876. Growing up in Hannibal, Missouri. a town located on the banks of the Mississippi River, he had plenty of stories because of the commercial traffic coming from and going to the great port of New Orleans, Louisiana. Everyone who’s heard of Tom Sawyer might have a sneaking suspicion that Tom represents a boyhood Mark Twain, but did you know that the little girl, Becky Thatcher, was inspired by a real person as well? Becky Thatcher’s real name was Laura Hawkins and she and Samuel Clemens grew up across the street from each other in Hannibal, MO.

This Becky Thatcher doll by Effanbee is for sale on eBay.
If you have an interest in her, click here.

Laura Hawkins is so closely associated to Becky, that Laura’s home where she lived across from Samuel Clemens in the 1840’s is now called the Becky Thatcher Home. Laura lived to be ninety-one years old. She married Dr. James Fraser and remembered Mark Twain as “only a common place boy” with a “drawling, appealing voice.” Gee whiz! With such life long adoration coming from Samuel Clemens, one would think she could muster a little more praise.

If you would like to read a delightful PDF sent straight
to you from the Becky Thatcher House in Hannibal, MO,
please click here.

At a time when literary females tended to sit in the parlor and do embroidery after they cooked meals and did the housework, the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher must have been exciting. Along with the runaway antics of Huckleberry Finn, another Mark Twain folk hero, the children displayed a sense of adventure that has captivated the hearts of readers ever since.

Becky Thatcher wants to set the record straight. She was never the weeping ninny Mark Twain made her out to be in his famous novel. She knew Samuel Clemens before he was “Mark Twain,” when he was a wide-eyed dreamer who never could get his facts straight. Yes, she was Tom’s childhood sweetheart, but the true story of their love, and the dark secret that tore it apart, never made it into Twain’s novel.

If you have an interest in Becky, hover your mouse over this link:
Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher

You don’t have to go to Hannibal, Missouri to visit Becky.
Invite her over to your home!

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Nov 10 2010

Today is the 235th anniversary
of the beginning of the Marine Corps
during the Revolutionary War.

Every year, on November 10, the United States Marine Corps celebrates its birthday with formal dances and the cutting of birthday cakes with sabers. It is the highlight of the year and today is the day!

Underway on the open ocean during the Persian Gulf War, 1990.
The side of the USS Guam, an amphibious assault ship, now
retired, decommissioned 25 August 1998.

When shots were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775, Continental Army generals realized they would need to fight a naval war to keep Britain from re-establishing control. In the fall of that year, plans to formally create a fighting force based on the water took hold and it was…

“Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of. Ordered, That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.”…as written by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

USS Nassau as seen from the USS Guam in port.
Rota, Spain March 1991.

Today, any Marine and their family recognizes the Marine Corps Birthday by thinking of the goals of the Corps and the dreams, some fulfilled and others lost in sacrifice, of every young Marine. It is a sobering moment to remember all the battles fought and time served by those who have proudly worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem. Today, especially, if you know a Marine or see one when you’re out and about, thank them for their service to our Country and be sure and wish them a Happy Birthday!

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Oct 02 2010

At Plimoth Plantation, the living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts,
the Pilgrims come to talk with you during your Thanksgiving feast.

When I lived in upstate New York, I would often go to Boston, Massachusetts and when I did, I would stay in Plymouth to enjoy the historical area. I was intrigued by the story of the Pilgrims landing in 1620, and, so we were taught, being the first Europeans to land in North America. Years later, after reading many books and after learning that Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims through the first winter, greeted them in English after they landed, I have reassessed what I was taught in school. In my schooling career, very few books mentioned that before the Pilgrims arrived, Squanto and many other Wampanoag tribes people has been captured and taken back to England. But that’s another story and a good one. You can find it and more facts about that first Plymouth winter in Nathaniel Philbrick’s wonderfully educational book, Mayflower, as seen at the bottom of this post.

All plants and animals in the 1627 Village are native
to the times, as are the garden preparations.

But, when I went to Boston and stayed in Plymouth, I would always make a point to visit Plimoth Plantation, the historical area that is spelled in the old style of the original Plimoth colony. And, when I visited Plimoth Plantation, I was always charmed by the idea that every Thanksgiving, the museum hosts a banquet, a 17th century Thanksgiving feast, where tickets may be purchased to “dine with the Pilgrims.” I decided that someday, when I had a family, we would one day go, sitting in rare style on Thanksgiving Day, eating our pumpkin pie just down the street when where it all happened long ago.

Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum,
providing historical immersion in another time.

Eventually I did take my family to Plymouth and Plimoth Plantation, but it was after a few false starts. The programs are very popular around Thanksgiving. I had heard reservations have to be made early, but I thought the beginning of October would be plenty of time. I didn’t know they begin taking reservations in June, (!) so that some of the most popular seatings for dinner are sold out long before fall even begins. So, later, we planned ahead and the next year actually did eat with the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving Day. A triumph years in the making.

A mast, rigging and the crow’s nest of the Mayflower II
docked in downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts.

When you go to the Plimoth Plantation website, found here, to look at the educational events, you will find the Thanksgiving dinner information here. You will notice there are many dates and times from which to choose. The Thanksgiving dinners start in October to allow many more visitors than could be accommodated in November alone. The web site will also show you there are several living history areas: the Wampanoag Native American home site, the 1627 English Village, The Mayflower II, the Nye Barn, in addition to a tempting Gift Shop and other educational and social event facilities.

Wampanoag descendants tend a cooking fire
to instruct visitors on their cultural customs.

Being a bargain shopper as I know you are, I hope you have noticed on the Plimoth Plantation web site that educational and social events are less expensive for Members of the museum; why you even get a discount in the Gift Shop! I would strongly encourage everyone who loves history to become members of all museums that speak to your love of heritage. With the economic climate and families traveling less, donations toward non-profit groups like museums are declining.

Visitors wander freely through the Village
while talking to Pilgrim interpreters.

Unfortunately, government grants and funding have also lessened leaving museum directors and curators wringing their hands as to how to maintain collections to safeguard the pubic trust. By supporting museums, by becoming a member and actively participating in staged events, museum doors stay open and the collections can be maintained for future generations. In some small museums, the need is especially critical, so please give to the museum/s of your choice.  Make sure the museum where you want to take your kids or grand kids someday will be open when you bring a carload of fun seekers to their door.

To preview a copy, hover over this link:

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

The following is a spirited Amazon review:

“After a recent trip to Plymouth with the family (also heartily recommended), most of the tour guides & workers suggested this as a very good first read about the history of the Plymouth Colony. They were absolutely right (thanks guys). This is a very well written book that covers the main history of the Plymouth Colony from the establishment of the first successful colony through King Philip’s War. Nathaniel Philbrick’s main point is how the relationships with the natives changed from one of mutual dependence to outright open warfare between competing cultures. While telling the big story, he tells a lot of small stories along the way that make this a wonderful book. The details didn’t interfere with the flow of the larger story.
The writing is excellent. The history is fascinating. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the Pilgrims, King Philip’s War, early American History or Massachusetts history.”

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