First ladies are one of my many interests and hobbies. (First ladies rather than presidents because by reading about First Ladies, you learn about the human-side of the president. Often reading about presidents teaches you about wars they fought or lists of all the people who were part of all their meetings, but doesn’t really talk about THEM.)
And one aspect of that hobby is visiting as many presidential homes as possible. I had been to a few as a kid since I come from kind of a history-loving family. But I had many more to visit – and still have more to visit.
One day I found a coffee-table-type book about president homes on sale at Borders. So I bought it and we started recording the dates of our visits to the homes.
A few people have asked me why I haven’t done an “online” tour of the homes we visited, so I thought I’d do just that. (But not all at once or even all in a row.)
Unfortunately, this will not be getting off to a good start.
I thought it made sense to start with Washington (duh!) and I’ve actually been to Mt. Vernon two times – if not three. Yet, I can only find a few pictures and those aren’t even good ones. Somewhere I have great photos of Mt. Vernon.
If I find them, I’ll upload them later.
Mt. Vernon is near Alexandria, Virginia and sits on the banks of the Potomac River. The white, wooden mansion is elegant and homey at the same time. The estate was a working plantation when Washington lived there and it has been owned by the family (although no one particularly wanted to make the effort to keep the estate in working order) until the mid 1800s. In 1858 The Mount Vernon Ladies Association bought it and they’ve been operating it ever since.
(I actually corresponded with the dear sweet, genteel and elegant ladies of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association because I wanted to use something I saw at Mt. Vernon in a kid’s story I wrote. They were very dear sweet, genteel and elegant in their response and did give me the necessary permission.)
Anyhow, the first time I was at Mt. Vernon I was in second grade. The last time I was at Mt Vernon was for my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. Ken and I took a trip out East with them and Mt. Vernon was one place we stopped. (You will notice in the picture of Ken and me in front of a tree – planted by George himself – that Ken is holding our video camera which might account for the lack of photos – but I still think there are some more around.)
Several other people were on the tour with us through the house. One lady stood out as asking intelligent questions which showed she knew something about history. I appreciated what she was asking because nothing can ruin a tour more than someone asking dumb questions and nothing can help a tour more than questions from someone who knows about what we’re viewing. She was there with an older daughter and my guess was she was a history teacher.
On the way back down the lane to the parking lot afterwards, we just happened to be walking by the lady and the daughter and I asked her if she taught history. If I remember correctly, she did. But then my dad asked her where she was from and she said Minnesota. As we continued chatting we learned that her daughter was a student at Northwestern – which was interesting because Jeff was at Northwestern at that time. I don’t know how the conversation went from there – whether Ken or I said we had just been through Minnesota on the way to camp in Montana or what, but we then discovered that her other daughter had been a counselor at Clydehurst that summer. Ken and I were junior camp speakers that year and knew her other daughter well! Small world.
In conclusion – as George himself said about his house – I have no objection to any sober or orderly person’s gratifying their curiosity in viewing the buildings, Gardens, &ca. about Mount Vernon. (I have no idea what &ca is – I must have missed it.)
I promise I have better pictures of most of the other houses.