A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Road Trip (Part 2)

I'll take refuge from political posts with Part 2 of my October road trip (see Part 1 here).

For part of the trip, my parents joined me. We started our first day at the cemetery where my grandparents are buried in western Massachusetts. I had never been there before when the leaves were changing, but it was a beautiful and peaceful place. Unfortunately I don't remember my grandma, because she died when I was really little, but it is nice to think of an remember her and my grandpa.

While on this road trip, I listened to a book on tape: "Lives Like Loaded Guns," which is about Emily Dickinson and her family. We visited her house in Amherst, Massachusetts which was lovely. While I don't always understand her poetry, I think some of it is profound and moving.

My parents had both lived in Western Massachusetts so they were both excited that the Hartford, Connecticut temple was being dedicated - we made it to the last day of the open house. The temple was simple, but peaceful.

The next day we visited Mark Twain's house (for some reason I didn't take many pictures here). Mark Twain was father of three girls, two of whom died before he did, which I think is so sad.

After another long drive, I spent the next day at Hyde Park, New York. I went to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Presidential Library and home, along with "Top Cottage" (where he planned to retire after his Presidency), and Eleanor Roosevelt's home after his death, Val-kill.

FDR's home, living room
I liked that FDR's home had a room called the "snuggery" - it was his mother's private parlor. I think I need one of those in my house.
View of the front of FDR's house (behind the house are gorgeous views of the Hudson Valley)

Outside the library - statutes of FDR, Churchill, and a sculpture carved from remains of the Berlin Wall. Franklin wrote Winston at one point: "It is fun to be in the same decade as you!"

The FDR Library had a lot of interesting exhibits regarding FDR's presidency - my favorite were some of the campaign buttons for and against Roosevelt's re-election bid in 1940. He was the only President to ever seek a third term and there was some vigourous debate about it. Some of the slogans on buttons:
- "I'm against the Third Term. Washington Wouldn't. Grant Couldn't. Roosevelt Shouldn't."
- "Better a Third Termer than a Third Rater."
- "Third Term Taboo. 23 Skidoo."
- "Two good terms deserve another."

A view of "Top Cottage," which FDR built up on a hill near the main house. He wanted to retire here after his Presidency was over. This cottage was where he hosted the King of England during the King's visit to the U.S. FDR's mom was scandalized when FDR served hot dogs at the picnic (there was plenty of other food too).

Above is the study in Eleanor Roosevelt's home, Val-Kill. She liked to read, can you tell?  She is one of my heroes and I love so much about her. After she was first lady, she worked tirelessly for human rights and helped draft the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This study was where she met with a young senator named John F. Kennedy when he sought her endorsement. She grilled him on civil rights and urged him to do more for this cause, but ultimately did endorse him. The Presidential library also had an exhibit of the contents of her wallet when she passed away in 1962. It had this prayer:

For All Those Who Work or Fight in the Air
Lord have pity upon all men.
To those who are in darkness
Be their light.
To those who are in despair
Be their Hope.
To those who are suffering
Be their Healing.
To those who are fearful
Be their Courage.
To those who are defeated
Be their Victory.
To those who are dying
Be their Life.

After learning a lot about both Roosevelts, I took a walk across the Hudson river. "Walkway Over the Hudson" is an old railroad bridge that has been converted into a public walkway over a mile long. It was a lovely jaunt and very scenic with the changing leaves.

The next day brought art from the Hudson River school of American painting, and lots of it. I stopped first at Cedar Grove, the home of Thomas Cole, who was the father of this school of painting. He spent a lot of time in upstate New York, hiking and sketching, eventually moving here after marrying a local girl.

Painting by Thomas Cole - forget the name of it, but I loved the light of the sun in this painting.

Cedar Grove - they had SO MANY of Cole's paintings, it was amazing.
Next, I crossed the river and visited Olana, a home designed by Cole's fellow painter and artist, Frederic Church. Church had bad arthritis for the last few years of his life, so he spent his time being an artist on a grand scale - designing the house and grounds.

A lot of the windows at Olana have beautiful frames to create "living pictures" from the outdoor scenery.

Loved this pastoral scene, with cows, by Church
 I thoroughly enjoyed a tour of the inside of the house, which was full of Church paintings and artifacts, but the best part was the landscape tour of the grounds that I also did - the fall colors were, quite simply, perfect and it was a beautiful fall day.
View of Olana from the grounds - it's a beautiful house with a lot of Arab design touches.

One of the views on the Olana grounds.
 After a day of art, I headed (where else?) to a cemetery. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, to be exact. It's the final resting place of Washington Irving, writer of the short story "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." A few other famous New Yorkers are also buried there, including Dale Carnegie and Samuel Gompers, along with some Rockerfellers.

My last day was a stop in New York City to see the 9/11 memorial and museum there. It was sobering to reflect on my memories of that day so long ago.

An art exhibit - the artist asked people to recall the color of the sky on 9/11.
 My last stop was the Morgan Library and Museum, which had an exhibit honoring Charlotte Bronte, one of my favorite writers. They had the manuscript to Jane Eyre, which was open to the famous scene between Jane and Mr. Rochester where he proposes. Before realizing that Mr. Rochester intends to marry her, Jane says: "I am no bird, and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will." Jane Eyre is one of my favorite characters because she is so strong willed. Charlotte Bronte took great pride in the fact that contemporary critics couldn't tell if she was a man or a woman, and she wrote that she wanted to be judged as a writer, so it didn't matter whether she was man or woman.

Only professional portrait of Charlotte Bronte done during her lifetime (other than a portrait by her brother)
I really enjoyed the trip (not all the driving, though). It seems somehow appropriate to close with these words from FDR's prayer address on June 6, 1944 (D Day):

And, O Lord, Give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impact of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

Keep the faith, be brave and be bold. There is so much to enjoy in life.

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