Genesis 1:31
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (New International Version-NIV)

Truly Gods vast creation, landscape, wildlife and man is beautiful beyond description.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Freedom Trail, Boston, MA 7/6/2014

Hello, from 3 tired puppies.Joyce, Lisa and I took a cab this morning from our hotel to Boston Common the start of the Freedom Trail and we started walking and we walked all day looking at the old famous historical sites. For several days we have been watching the weather forecast and wondering if we would have good weather for the ball game last night and for us walking the Freedom Trail today. Well let me tell you the weather was glorious today. Not a cloud in the sky and the temp in the mid 80s. The Boston Common is beautiful and there were hundreds of people there enjoying the park and the weather. 

Boston is a beautiful city that is so chock full of historical places, facts and events that you have to read the entire history of America to begin to touch on it all. Also it needs to be noted that the Boston of today is vastly different in size and shape to what it was in it's earlier history because very large areas of marsh / wet lands have been filled and built upon or converted into parks. There have been a number of phrases over the years that have been used to capture this thought. A couple that we saw and heard were " The Cradle of Liberty " and " the Birthplace of American Independence ". The Freedom Trail is roughly 2.5 miles long and is really divided into 2 sections. One section in Boston proper and the other in Charlestown. The Boston section has the most historic places. You might wonder how in the world can you follow the Freedom Trail. Well it is actually easy. It is marked on the sidewalk either with a row of red bricks or a painted red line. Just follow the red line. If you ever plan to visit Boston and walk the Freedom Trail which I highly recommend you really should do some research on the trail to see what you can actually see and how much time you want to spend on the trail. One reason for this research is that in many places just a block to the right or left of the Trail but not on the Trail you will find very interesting and historic locations. Unfortunately I did not do this so we missed some interesting places. For us it took about a day an a half. I was constantly amazed the way a lot of people sped along the trail. They did not take time to read any of the informational sign about the places or events that occurred at that point. I can only imagine that they had a very limited amount of time so they hurried along so that at least they could say they saw the Freedom Trail. We walked the trail but there are bus tours, walking guided tours ( you really have to watch out for these because they are large groups and they think they own the trail ). I mean by this that you may be standing in front of a building or monument and this group comes by and the guide takes a position right in front of the monument and asks the group to gather around which they do and you can get trampled easily. They also have " Duck " vehicle tours. These are old World War II vehicles that can travel on land or water. They have converted these into tour bus like vehicles and they are numerous. Of course there is an advantage of staying close to one of these guided tours because you can hear for free what the tour group had to pay to hear. The only problem is they really don't spend much time at each location and for me they were moving just to fast. I want to spent more time at each location. Finally, before we get into a detailed description of our exploring the Freedom Trail if you come to Boston don't plan to drive the Freedom Trail because you can't. Many of the streets you walk on or by are very narrow, have no parking spaces and many will be one way going the opposite way you need to be going. Park the car and put on your walking shoes. OK lets get started and I will try to describe what we saw and some of the information about what we saw.

The Freedom Trail begins at the Boston Commons which is said to be America's oldest public park. It is located in the center of the city and encompasses 44 acres of land that has never been built upon except for monuments and that sort of things.  In 1622 a group of colonists came to this area after their first location just south of here proved to not have a adequate water. One of these settlers was William Blackstone and he lived on this land ( what is now known as Boston Commons ) as a hermit and he used this land for grazing pasture for his cattle. At that time this area was called Shawmut ( living waters ) by the Indians. Later it was renamed Boston after a town in England from which these settlers had come.. Blackstone's pasture land became known as the " common lands " or " commons " for short. Over time the Commons has been used for several things. Training grounds for militia,  a British Camp when the British occupied Boston. The area known as Beacon Hill became a fashionable residential area and the cattle were relocated elsewhere. The common was also used for the location of the town gallows for execution of pirates, witches, heretics as well as Quakers. Throughout the years it has been used for a place to hold celebrations, demonstration, rallies and speeches. Any one who wishes can find a spot and say a few words or talk all day if he or she can do it. And it can be almost guaranteed that an audience will form to listen. I observed. two such speakers. One was a preacher who was boldly standing in front of a small statue and preaching from the Bible. Another individual was railing about the war in Afghanistan. Interesting the poor preacher was pushed out of his location by one of the tour groups I mentioned earlier. He just moved out of the way and did not miss a beat.  There are many paved side walks that cris cross this very large park which is mostly grassy area with large trees through out the area. You will see all sorts of activities taking place, walking, jogging, writing, painting, photography, reading, playing all sorts of sports and of course a little romance. Ain't love grand? But, I digress. Lets look at some photographs of the Boston Commons.
 Plaque Describing The Purchase Of This Land From William Blackstone
Enlargement Of Plaque Describing The Purchase Of This Land From William Blackstone
    Boston Common Soldiers And Sailors Monument Dedicated To Men From Boston Who Lost     Their Lives In The Civil War. See  Dedication Plaque Below. Lisa Is Standing In Front Of The      Monument. The Monument Was Started In !874 And Completed In 1877.  And Was                      Originally Called The Boston  Army And Navy Monument. The Designer Was Martin 
    Milmore. It Is 126 Feet Tall And Stands On Flagstaff Hill.
 Top Piece Of Above Monument Is A Female Figure That Is 11 Feet Tall. She Is Wearing A         Crown With 13 Stars That Represent America ( 13 Original Colonies ). Here Right Hand Holds A Sword And Laurel Wreath And In Her Left She Holds An American Flag. Eagles Sit On Each Side Of The Base She Stands On.
 Lower Section Of Above Monument. As I Understand It These 8 Foot Tall Granite Carved Figures Represent The Northern, Southern, Eastern And  Western Sections Of The Reunited Nation. 
Dedication Plaque On Above Monument With The Sculptor's Name - Martin Milmore.
 Lower Section Of Monument.There Is A Lot Of Interesting History About This Section Of The Monument. Many Of The Photographs You See Of This Monument You Will notice That There Are No Statues On These Four Projecting Pedestal Bases. As You See In My Photograph Above. These Bronze Statues Are A Soldier, A Sailor,And Two Allegorical Figures Representing History And Peace. Some Reports Have It That The Statues Might Have Been Stolen Or Removed To Avoid Damage.  I Doubt They Were Stolen. They Did Receive Some Damage During Demonstrations In 1969 When One Hundred People Protesting The Vietnam War. Again On  May 25, 2004 When 100,000 Demonstrators Did A Lot Of Damage To The Monument In Particular The Four Statues That Were There. I saw Some Photographs With Demonstrators Draped Around The Statues Or Hanging From Them. So It Is Understandable That They Might Have Been Removed To Avoid Further Damage. I Do Not Know When They Were Replaced But As You Can See They Were There When We Were There.
This A Close Up View Of The Lady On The Right Side Of The Above Photograph. She Has A Tablet In Her Left Hand And A Pen In Her Right Hand. 
This Is A Close Up View Of The Sailor In The Center Of The Above Photograph. He Has A Sword In His Right Hand . I Am Sorry I Failed To Get Close Ups Of The Other Two Statues.
 Lower Section Of Monument From A Different Side View.
 Still Another View Of The Lower Section Of Monument
 Enlargement Of Monument Relief On The  East Side. This Portrays A Naval Battle On The Right Side Between A Union Ship And A Confederate Ship. On The Left Side These Are Apparently Soldiers Saying Good Bye To Loved Ones As They Depart For War.
The Monument Relief On The North Side And Is Called " Return From The 
War ". It Portrays Troops Presenting Battle Flags To The Massachusetts Civil War Period Governor Who Was John Andrew. He Is Reported To Be Standing In The Front Row On The Right Side. Also Reportedly One Of The Figures Standing Near Governor Andrew Represents Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Other Notable Persons Are Senator Charles Sumner And Henry Wilson. On Horseback are Generals Nathaniel Banks, William Francis Bartlett And Charles Devens.This Took Place Outside The Massachusetts State.

 There Were Two Other Reliefs That I Failed To Get Close Ups Of Them Due Mainly To Shadows I Just Could Not Get A Clear Image But I Will Tell You What They Said Or Represented.

 Monument Relief On The  South Side Is Entitled " Departure For War ". It Shows Troops Marching Past The Massachusetts State House.

The  Relief On The  West Side Of The Monument is Titled " The Sanitary Commission ". It Represents Volunteers Taking Care Of Individuals Injured In The War. The Sanitary Commission Was Created By President Lincoln  During The Civil War To Coordinate The Efforts Of Volunteers. 

Large Mine Used By Naval Forces
 Carousel In Boston Common. Getting A Lot Of Action With A Long Line.
Frog Pond In Boston Common 
 Another Monument In Boston Commons
Boston Commons Visitors Center 
 Statue Representing Learning In Boston Commons
 Statue Representing Industry In Boston Commons
Statue Representing Religion In Boston Commons
Freedom Trail Sign Directing You To The Massachusetts State House
The Massachusetts State House As Seen From Across The Boston Commons.
The Massachusetts State House
Picture above is the " New " State House as opposed to the " Old " State House which you will see later. I heard one of the tour guides say to his tour group that only in Boston  would a " New " building be more than two centuries old. Construction on this building started in 1795 and was completed 3 years later. It was said to be the most beautiful building in the country. The red brick portion of the building is the original and everything has been added since 1895. This red brick front is called The " Bulfinch " after the architect. The history of the dome is interesting. It was originally covered with wood shingles  but it leaked. In 1802 a copper cap was placed on the dome. This copper was manufactured by Paul Revere's company. Later this was painted a gray color and then it was gilded after the Civil War. The State House stands on land that was once owned  by John Hancock one of the wealthiest merchants in Boston. The west lawn of the State House once was the site of John Hancock's mansion. He wanted to give the home to the state to be used as the state governor's Mansion but he died before he could sign the will to make this donation. Years later the state could not reach a deal to buy the mansion so it was demolished in 1863. The State House is closed on weekends so we could not see the inside. 

Beacon Hill

The State House is next to Beacon Hill which is one of Boston's finest residential area but it was not always that way. Basically in Boston there are three hills which are not tall at all and Beacon Hill is the tallest of the three.  It  got this name because in 1634 because there was a ' beacon " or alarm signal constructed there. The beacon  was an iron skillet or pot which was filled with pitch.and placed on the top of a tall wooden pole   In the event of an attack against the town someone would have to climb the pole and light the pitch which would be a signal for people in the surrounding area to come and help. Like so many situation in today's culture when the state house was built it was considered out of town. Beacon Hill at that time was considered to rough to ever be used for construction of any type of buildings. At one point there was a project to fill in a nearby pond ( Mill Pond ) so they used the top sixty feet of beacon hill to obtain the fill material they needed. In a few years the area became a prime residential site. Interestingly the back section or north side of Beacon Hill was the center of the large African-American community in the early 1800s. Many of the residents in that community were active abolitionists and some of their homes were used as refuge stops on the Underground Railroad. Today the Black Heritage Trail  goes thorough this area. This trail has stops at the Museum Of African America History and The African Meeting House of the 1860 which is the oldest church building built by free black citizens of America. 

As we move on through the edge of Boston Commons we find the following:

Memorial To The Fifth Fourth Regiment Of The Massachusetts Infantry
Lower Section Of The Above Memorial

Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial

When the Civil War started  in 1861 many of the black residents of Massachusetts wanted to help free their fellow African Americans who were being held as slaves in the south.. U. S. Army policy prohibited them from joining the Army. After much discussion the Army allowed them to enlist but they could not be officers. Who would lead them? Several prominent young white men volunteered to lead them. Robert Gould Shaw the only son of one of Boston's first families was one of these volunteers and he became the colonel of the regiment. This was a very risky business. The black soldiers if capture would become slaves. The white officers would be considered as traitors by the Confederate Army. Colonel Shaw and 32 of his men were killed at the battle for Fort Wagner just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. This monument took 14 years to complete and was done by the first  white artist to do a sympathetic look at black men. It was dedicated on Decoration Day 1897.
Fountain In Boston Commos
Joyce And Lisa Check The Freedom Trail Map For Information

Next we headed out of Boston Common following the red line towards the white steeple of Park Street Church which we could see above the tree tops.

This will conclude this posting of our tour of the Freedom Trail. Look forward to much more in the future. Until then remember what I always say God loves you and so do I.

Grandpa Bill

Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Buchanan, Presidential Library & Museum, Wheatland, PA.,7/10/2014

After breakfast today, July 10, 2014 Joyce, Lisa and I drove out to Wheatland, Pennsylvania to tour the James Buchanan Presidential Library and Museum. He was the 15th president of the United State. It is an outstanding facility considering its age.and the grounds are beautiful beyond description. There are a vast variety of trees and plantings. Many of the trees are at least 5 feet in diameter and must be close to 200 feet tall. The tours through the house are  guided  which are excellent but first a little about our 15th president. He was born April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania in his father's log cabin trading post an area that was on the edge of civilization. The Allegheny  mountains were a barrier to the west at that time.  His father did well in the trading post and they moved to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania and opened a dry goods store. James did well in school and went on to graduate from Dickinson College which was nearby. After graduation he became an attorney and settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He became interested in politics. He served in the Pennsylvania State Legislature and the U. S. Congress. He also was an Ambassador to Russia and Great Britain. I addition he received an appointment as Secretary of State. Buchanan had the misfortune to be president at a time when he faced an issue that was virtually impossible to solve. The issue -- States Rights. The issue of states having the right to own slaves. When he did things that the South liked he only alienated to North. He left office strongly supporting the Union and Lincoln's policies and was happy to leave Washington and return to Lancaster. Many blame him for starting the Civil War. The statement that he made to President Lincoln as Lincoln took office best sums up his feelings. He said, " If you are as happy, dear sir, on entering this house as I am on leaving it and returning home, you are the happiest man in the country." 

As indicated earlier Buchanan following graduation from college moved to Lancaster and became an attorney. He loved the area. Wheatland where his Presidential Library and Museum is located was built in 1828 by a wealthy Lancaster banker and received the name " Wheatland "  because it was surrounded by fields of wheat. In 1848, the house was purchased by Secretary of State James Buchanan as a country estate. He loved the quiet and serenity of the place as compared to the hustle and bustle of public life but this quite was not to last long. His library which is pictured later was destined to become the focal point or area of much political activity during his presidential campaigns in 1852 and 1856.

President Buchanan died June 1, 1868 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The house and the four acres that surround it was purchased in 1936 and restored by the James Buchanan Foundation. It today instills the sense that you are in a house occupied by a wealthy country gentleman. The house is large with many rooms and had a large staff that was needed to serve as many as 25 guest. The rooms are large when compared to standards for that day but were necessary because of his extensive social and political activities. His niece Harriet Lane entertained playing the piano.

Author A. Cranston Jones in describing Wheatland said, " The great charm of visiting Wheatland is that so much of the tang and aroma of this pastoral existence can be sensed. So magnificently are the rooms maintained, with their Lancaster hostesses in period crinolines, that one almost  expects to catch sight of Miss Hetty tidying up the polar, Harriet Lane once again adjusting her shirt before her fingers ripple the first chords on the Chickering grand, or find the elegant and reserved President Buchanan himself standing at the head of the table, ceremoniously greeting each guest in turn. "

One of the interesting items about Buchanan is that he was a bachelor so his niece and ward served as the White House hostess ( you might say first lady ) for him. She was a very attractive lady and became the belle of Washington. Her mother died when she was nine years old and her father died a couple of years later. so she and her sister became wards of Buchanan who was a U. S. Senator at the time. He moved them from various schools to further their education. Eventually he had her transferred to a school in Washington,D. C. so she could be closer to him. The school often complained to him that he was interfering with her education by taking her out of school so much to be with him. He wanted her to help during the social seasons in Washington. As she matured she became an important helper for Buchanan. She became his confident and advisor on many matters and in fact ran the social functions in the White House. She often traveled with him on overseas trips and it was regularly seen that she sat in on meeting he had with personages of foreign governments. She became a favorite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and became very close to the Queen. Queen Victoria often referred to her as " dear miss Lane ". In the White House she worked closely with her first cousin James Buchanan " Buck " Henry who had also been raised by Buchanan. It is reported that she was very flirtatious  and many men both in the United States and overseas made approaches to her but she did not take any of them seriously. It seems that Buchanan had always drilled into her the idea that she should not become serious about any man until she was sure he was able to sustain and support her financially. After he left the White House and moved back to Wheatland she became seriously involved with Henry Elliott Johnston who she had known ( I believe ) from her teen age years. She was reluctant  to move forward with this relationship because of Buchanan's failing health but he insisted so she was married to Johnston 11 Jan., 1866. She was 35 years old when she married and bore two boys.  In a relatively short period of time she lost her sister, both boys and her husband. She was a very interesting woman and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania has historical sites about her as well as President Buchanan.
This Building Houses The Entrance For The Buchanan Presidential Library And Museum. There Is A Small Book Store. A Short Film About Buchanan. An Art Gallery And Of Course Where You Sign Up For The Guided Tour.

Presidential Library & Museum Sign
 Tour Guide Dressed In Period Dress. She Was An Excellent Guide Who Was Knowledgeable And In Some Instances Acted Out The Part. Today She Was Working With An Apprentice Guide Who Led Us Through Certain Rooms, In The Photographs You Will See The Apprentice Dressed In A Blue Dress. She Explained That They Only Wear Two Small Hoops 
In The Dress Rather Than The Larger Ones. She Said With The Larger Hoops You Had To Squat To Pick Something Up Rather Than Bend Over. If You Bent Over The Hoops Raised And You Exposed Your Whole Back Side.
 Carriage House And Outdoor Bathroom
Another Outside Building For Storage
 Outdoor Bathroom
Inside Outdoor Bath Room. Note The Different Size Holes And The Varying Heights Of The Seats. At These Older Homes I Have Seen Many Outdoor Bathrooms But None As 
Elaborate As This One.
Carriage House Today Was Not Open For Viewing
Carriage House Sign
Corn Milling Stone
Corn Milling Stone
 James Buchanan Home, Back Entrance  This Is Where The Tours Start.
 Beautiful Front Yard Of Buchanan Home
 Front Entrance Of Buchanan Home
 Front Entrance Of Buchanan Home
 Front Entrance Of Buchanan Home
 Looking From Front Of House Back Toward The Street
One Of Several Huge Sycamore Tree
 Front Entrance
 Apprentice Tour Guide Talks To Us In The Entry Way
 Our Tour Group In Entry Way And We Met A Few People Who Had Entered The House Without A Guide And This Caused A Few Awkward Moments.
 Dining Room Area With Joyce And Lisa Looking At The Table. The Apprentice Guide Tells Us About It While The Senior Guide Escorted The People Mentioned In The Above Photograph Out Of The Building.
China Cabinet
 China Cabinet
Table In The Dining Room
Monogram  China ( I Believe This Was Harriet's China )
Monogram China 
President James Buchanan
Another Dining Area Off The Main Dining Room. Note The Fireplace
Enlargement Of Dining Table. Buchanan Entertained A Lot So The House Had Several 
Rooms Such As This Where He Could Receive Guests. It Was Often The Practice For Just Social Visits To Sit Around A Table Such As This And Read Poetry. Items Of Poetry Lie On 
The Table Now. 
Couch In Sitting Area
 You Can See That The Room Was Well Lite With Several Windows. In Cold Weather These Windows Also Caused A Lot Of Loss Of Heat So They Had The Very Heavy Drapes You See To Help Hold The Heat In The House.
 Another Couch
Overhead Light Fixture
Side Table ( I Believe This Is James Buchanan " Buck " Henry )
Old Rendering On How This Room Might Have Been Used With The Men Smoking, 
Reading And Talking.
 Buchanan Desk
Buchanan Desk
Buchanan Presidential Desk
 Chickering Grand Piano Played By Harriet Lane Buchanan's Niece and Hostess
Old Writing Desk
Harriet Lane Johnston President Buchanan's Niece
 Elaborate Fireplace, Mirror And Wall Paper Adorn This Room
Buchanan's Library Which Contain Much That Has Been Written About Him. Much Political Discussions Took Place In This Room
Buchanan Was A Mason. He Was Initiated December 11, 1816 In Lodge Number 43, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He Became Worshipful Master of Lodge Number 43, 1822 - 1823 And In 1824 He Was Appointed District Deputy Grand Master For The Counties Of Lancaster, York And Lebanon.
Bookcases In Buchanan's Library
Apprentice Guide Tells Us About This Room
Bedroom  Note The Doll

Wash Basin

 Fire Place In Bed Room
 This Is A Close Up Of The Doll Shown Above. Many Ladies In This Time Period Had Adult Like Dolls
Another Bedroom
You Can See The Circular Bathtub Between Joyce And Lisa 
 Chair With Hole For Indoor Bathroom To Be Used In The Middle Of The Night.  I Am Sure 
You Can Understand How This Worked Without Me Having To Explain It.
Interesting Shaped Bathtub
 Buchanan Bedroom
 Furniture In Buchanan's Bedroom
 Another Writing/Work Desk
Apprentice Tour Guide Explains Details Of This Room
Book Case Off Buchanan's Bedroom. One Of Our Tour Members Is Pictured Here.
Wash Basin
 Metal Bathtub With Running Water
Another Wash Basin
Another Bedroom. It Was Explained That President Buchanan Had Many Visitors And They And Their Family Often Would Stay The Night So The House Had Many Bedrooms.
Chest In The Kitchen 
 Display Table In The Kitchen
Lisa Looks At The Dumb Waiter On The Left And A Wall Cabinet Directly In Front Of Her.

This was a very interesting tour. The guide advised that the house it decorated at Christmas time and is most beautiful. I may just have to make it back over there to see that and see the Christmas show at Sight & Sound Theater.

Grandpa Bill