Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The last museum, for this visit anyway

Thursday May 15, 2014
Greenbelt National Park, Greenbelt, Maryland




Yes it’s two days in a row of museums and the 40 minute walk each way to the metro.  Does this man look like he is bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders as he walks down the lovely metro path lined with tulip poplar flowers?


The reason for two days in a row is something I forgot to mention in my last post.   Lest you think the rain has left me, rest assured that we could not go outside on Monday or Tuesday for all the rain.  Thus Wednesday and Thursday in DC.




Today we opted for the National Museum of American History which turned out to be a bit of a mistake for two reasons.
#1 the weather was glorious and we should have gone to the outdoor monuments….Jefferson, Washington, MLK, FDR etc.
#2 every senior class on the entire east coast was doing their class trip to D.C.    I think week-ends in May might be great times to visit since there was nothing like this in the NMAI on Sunday.

We got a late start since we wanted to do some packing up for our move tomorrow in what they say will be heavy rains.  Even so we got to the museum about 10:30 BEFORE the kids started showing up and making entrance lines down the stairs and down the block seriously.  There was only one small group taking their class picture when we arrived so we had NO idea what was to come.




Once again we decided to take a docent led tour which was absolutely wonderful and really helped us know to which exhibits we wanted to return after that 90 minutes.  Our guide Kerry was excellent so if you go, I hope you are lucky enough to get him.



Who isn’t interested in food?  This exhibit featured Julia Child and had her home kitchen as well as segments of her TV show and other items French cooking fans would enjoy.  One interesting thing was that in her kitchen the counters are all very high since she was over 6’ tall.   My complaint, when I was younger, was always that the counters were too tall.  I couldn’t use a cutting knife to chop properly until we furnished the farmhouse with authentic Hoosier cupboards made apparently when farmer’s wives were short. 







One of my favorite exhibits today is America on the Move which had wonderful displays of transportation methods beginning with the Conestoga Wagon of the 18th Century, through the steam train, the trolley and the earliest electric automobiles..













Street cars were very popular all over the country.  Many cities are now regretting removing those tracks.




In the early 20th century, Americans could choose electric, steam or gasoline cars.  Many city residents drove electric cars because of their smooth ride, simple operation and the availability of electricity for charging batteries.  Early gasoline cars were noisy, smoky and difficult to start but they could be driven longer distances (sound familiar??).   The model on the right has a mirror on the floor so you can see the engine.  David really enjoyed this.






H. Nelson Jackson from Burlington Vermont set out to drive this car across the country in 1903.  At that time there were almost no roads so he, his mechanic Sewall Crocker, and his dog were often stranded.  Despite mud, washouts, breakdowns and a lack of roads and bridges, they finished their trip from New York to California.




This exhibit of the young girl and her daddy farmer who drove a school bus during the depression reminded me of my mother’s stories of her farmer father driving a bus at that same time.  Like this girl, she rode along with him to her rural school.






The exhibits brought up stories for each of us.  When David was a young boy visiting his grandparents in Oklahoma several of the boys had one of these Cushman Pacemaker Scooters (left).  He has great memories of ramming around on it.






The museum’s exhibits are full of interactive opportunities like this old 50’s TV showing short clips of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ whose family had one of these Ford Country Squire Station Wagons from 1955.






I inherited a Schwinn bicycle like this one from my father’s sister.  He had bought it for her when he was home on leave from WW II the war.  Later, when she was grown,  he refurbished it for me.  Unfortunately she’s a good 5” taller than I am so the bike was always bigger and heavier than I liked.  But I used it for years to bike over to the library every Saturday to sit in the window seat and read.




And of course who can forget the big fins and boat cars of the 60’s like this 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix convertible.




But of course our favorite exhibit is the RV.  The exhibit explains that during the depression thousands of Americans took to living in their trailers year round (sound familiar?) Because trailer residents could pull up stakes easily, and because they did not pay real estate taxes, “trailerites” were seen as a social problem.   Wonder if that will happen again?  Are we social problems? Winking smile




This 1934 Travel-L-Coach house trailer is equipped with beds, kitchen, dining area, heat and electric lights.  More than 300 small firms made wooden vacation trailers in the 30’s.





A second favorite favorite exhibit is the entitled The Early Sixties: American Culture.   Lots of things here we remember from elementary, middle and high school. 

How many of you had to do the take cover drills?  Or bought a hamburger, fries and a coke for 15 cent each? Forty five cents for a meal.  Or a milk shake for 22 cents??







Rachel warned us in 1962 but we’re still not really listening.


And then there was “women’s liberation, ” helped along a great deal by the birth control pill.  Did you or your mother have a dispenser like this?




They highlighted 1964 with a number of 50 year old newspaper headlines on the floor.  These are only a few.  Really interesting to know all of these things happened in the same year.  Clever way to display them I thought.






The museum also has a variety of iconic items.  Here are just a few. How many do you recognize?  Try to guess and I’ll tell you below the pictures.  Be as specific as you can for full credit Class.  And let me know how many you get correct so I can mark it in my book ;-)














Here are the answers:

#1 of course Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz
#2 one of the suits worn by Abraham Lincoln every day of his Presidency
#3 the desk Thomas Jefferson used for writing the Declaration of Independence
#4 the lunch counter from the Greensboro Woolworth’s where the Feb 1st 1960 sit too place
#5 Harry Potter’s Gryffindor Cape
#6 The FIRST issue of Mother Earth News.  Did you guess the date?  January 1970
#7 The famous Miss Piggy.  Did you know that she was not a Muppet but created by Frank Oz for The Muppet Show (1974-81).  She debuted in 1974 on the show Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.


They also had a small exhibit entitled Stories on Money with many coins and bills.  Here’s my favorite and your last little bit of information so that when you get one you’ll recognize that Woodrow Wilson is on the $100,000 bill.





Our time at the Smithsonian is up.  This evening we see Carrie and Matthew to say good bye.  We are going out to dinner with Carrie but Matthew is the leader of his soccer team and they are #1 currently and playing #2 tonight so he won’t be able to make it.

We get some nice pictures of them both before he leaves.  We also get to see Lila the Fraidy Cat before we head out for dinner to which our daughter treats us.   Thank you Carrie!   Isn’t it amazing when the tables are turned and your children pay your way. 





Once again, we have perfect end to a nice day in DC.  We sure hope Carrie, and Matthew if they can arrange it, will be able to come visit us on the road this summer.  

We’re off tomorrow to French Creek State Park in Pennsylvania and from there to Shawnee State Park and then to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.   If you are anywhere near any of those places, give us a shout!

For those who have asked how I remember all this, I promise to tell you my methods in my next post.


  1. That is one museum in DC we haven't been to. Looks really interesting.
    How nice that Carrie treated you to dinner. I knew there was a good reason why we should have had children!

  2. Thanks! I do enjoy wandering through the Smithsonian Museums. The outdoor monuments are wonderful as well. Enjoy your travels through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Did you decide to skip Lancaster area?

  3. Now I know what we missed, this is one museum that was low on priority. But thanks to you Sherry, I feel like I had been there, thank you.

  4. School tours of museum does not really allow me to enjoy my usual method of enjoying the visit:(

  5. Wow! Full Time RV'rs are a SOCIAL problem! I was thinking along those lines last Winter. It is scary how many people live in RV's and do not travel. Great tour of a Fun to see museum.

  6. Let me guess. You have a hand recorder? What a nice dinner with Carrie. I'd love to see the War Memorials in D.C.

    However you manage to write such wonderful blogs, they are wonderful.

  7. When I think of the Museum of American History I immediately remember Dorothy's ruby slippers. I read every issue of Mother Earth News that I could get my hands on in the 1970's.

  8. So excited you are going to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. For some reason, I've always been intrigued by it and have it on my "list," but have never been. Can't wait to see it through your eyes. I think it's something about it being a bike path. Always love the museum posts.

  9. I remember so many of the exhibits from the many visits we made to the museum when we were living in the area. Don't recall the trailer ... but then the exhibits change frequently.

  10. I remember being one of those high school seniors, drills and pills but I don't remember the cost of Mickey D's though I was there quite a bit as a college student. Since my DC photos disappeared this has been a nice reminder of the wonderful museums we visited, thank you. Can't wait to read about your adventures in OH, seems there much more to the state than I imagined, safe travels.

  11. Fun stuff! Do you remember the "duck and cover " song :)

  12. Yep, Wilson is on all my $100,000 bills!

  13. Oh I remember the duck & cover when I was in early grade school :) I have to confess I knew 6 out of the 7 pictures. Been several years since I went to the museum, before Harry Potter was there :)

  14. Washington this time of year is a mess during the week. As you said it is full of school trips. We were surprised when we did our Gettysburg trip with Lu and Terry at just how many buses of students there were. Of course, the nice weather on a weekend brings out the crowds of families, as well. Looks like you made out. The American History Museum is always a fun place. One museum a day is most definitely the way to go.

    You are in our old neck of the woods. We use to live in Pottstown and I taught near by. You are so close to many wonderful things. Hope you got in to see the Constitution Center in Phila. Just wonderful!! Not to be missed! Of course, Valley Forge is another gem. Looks like you decided against Lancaster!?

  15. When I was flying to Sacramento every week there were fourth graders on the plane during April and May. It got a little crazy in the airport but they were always quiet and well behaved on the one hour flight. I love that so many seniors get to see the museum(s) even if some of them don't appreciate what they're seeing at the time. Only got half right on the test....hope you're grading on a curve :-). I have the menu from our senior trip in 1973. Hot dogs were still only 85 cents!

  16. Thanks for the review, Sherry. I love all of the Smithsonian museums. This makes me want to go up again soon - definitely this summer. Safe travels!

  17. I had an old Schwinn, maybe not as old as the one in the museum but already old when I got it in the 70s. Loved the foot brakes, one could make a really dramatic skidding stop with them. Too much fun.

  18. I've always thought it was absurd that we bothered with "duck and cover" drills -- I grew up in Miami during the Cuban Missile Crisis and I don't think my old wooden school desk would have provided much protection from an atomic bomb! Thanks for the great tips on avoiding the school crowds -- and you can count me among those interested as to how in the world you remember all of your facts.

  19. You know you are getting old when everything you see in a museum is familiar to you;o)) Yep, I recognized most everything you photographed. It was really great to see things like that again:o))

    However, my favorite photo is of Carrie and Matthew...they just look so happy!!! Makes me SMILE:o)))

  20. Thanks for taking me along to the museum...had a good time looking
    if i were home in PA...i would come and visit you in either of your next
    two stops...as i live close to both...Greenville PA.

  21. That is my favorite museum in all of DC. I've been many times. I find it funny to look at items on display that I used. I had to laugh on one visit, they had a display of diesel engines, arranged from early models to modern ones. One of the engine examples of an "early" diesel was the very same engines of the cutter I was stationed on at the time... :c)

    The first time I took my kids there, I tried to get them all excited about it and told them we were going to see Dorothy's Glass Slippers. When we got there, they were not available, they were redoing the display. :c(

    Hoping to take my grandsons soon, they are getting to the age where they are finding history interesting.

  22. This is one of the museums on our list so I was anxious to read this post. Hope you both traveled with good weather as you made your way to PA. Good to meet you and hope to see you again down the road.

  23. I love the museums around the Mall.

    Ken Burns directed a documentary a few years back called "Horatio's Drive" about the 1903 cross-country trip. It was fascinating. If you haven't seen it, try to find it. It really was quite an adventure.

  24. You have really seen two fabulous museums the past two days. I don't know which I like better!

    How fun it would be if Carrie and Matthew can come to visit. I guess they would have to find a kitty sitter.

  25. $100,000 bill??? holy todo. Another great tour, Sherry …. good morning ;) ~~~ Carrie and Matthew are adorable ;)

  26. Hook me up with a Wilson bill! Neat to hear all the stories of your younger life. Would have been fun to be there with you. I do love memory lane! Yes, how do you remember it all? I got some/not all the pictures. Harry's cloak made history!

  27. This museum is our next stop in Washington and your blog is a great introduction. Thanks for posting this!

  28. Great nostalgic museum experience. I remember most of this stuff too.


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