My 1968 East Coast Trip - Washington, D.C.
In Summer, 1968, when I was twelve, my mother decided that she needed to see her relatives in Boston and New Hampshire, and that I needed to see them as well. Dad refused to go. (He didn't like airplanes and refused to fly.) It was my first great childhood adventure - in fact, it was the first time I had been anywhere other than California or Nevada (Las Vegas). So I was definitely up for it. I considered it the reward for putting up with the insufferable Miss Johnson for two entire school years. What's more, I had read about New York City in comic books, the place was almost a supporting character in the Marvel titles, and wanted to see what the place was like.
We stayed on the east coast for about a month, as I recall. Most of the time was spent in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, but we did a couple of side trips on a Greyhound bus to New York City and Washington, D.C. It was great! I learned that there are other places to live... that Los Angeles wasn't the be-all and end-all in America. When I graduated from college in 1984 and had to decide between taking a job in Los Angeles, Western Massachusetts, Seattle, Maryland or Northern Virginia, it was an easy choice. Head East (Maryland). That way I could visit the Smithsonian whenever I wanted! (And I have.)
The following photos document the Washington, D.C. leg of the vacation. Click here to see the New York City photos. The Massachusetts and New Hampshire part is described here
The introductory index card from the photo album. When I did this I was taking a drafting class in junior high school and was learning how to letter with precision. Or perhaps I used a stencil. I forget! But it looks pretty anal-retentive, doesn't it?
The Capitol. Everyone has to see the Capitol. When there we bought a nice illustrated booklet describing the history of the place, what it's used for, etc. I still have it and the companion White House booklet. During this visit I learned that that particular building is the Capitol, and the administrative center of a state is the Capital. So it was a highly educational visit.
We tramped all the way around this monumental building and took frequent photos. There are more... but I won't bore you with those.
I really liked the Ulysses S. Grant monument in the front of the Capitol. Here I am upon an artillery horse. When older, I would learn to respect the art and not clamber onto it. But then I was only twelve.
The Hall of Statuary was impressive as well. Each state gets to display two. Here I inspect Jefferson Davis from Mississippi (left) and Robert E. Lee from Virginia (right). Ironic, given the fact that I would later become a Civil War buff and reenactor!
Normally, Mom's picture taking was kind of a pain, but I asked for this particular shot because I had recently read a 1930's book about cowboy comedian Will Rogers and was pleased to see his statue here representing Oklahoma. The only detail from the book I remember was that Rogers was first attracted to his future wife because she had suffered from a fever and had her hair cut short; he found this becoming. Isn't it funny what we retain from childhood?
Mom was impressed with this chandelier, and so took this shaky image. There were real limits to what that Instamatic was capable of!
Another inspiring sight, the door to the Capitol. Look at that detail! Is that Christopher Columbus?
The corner of North Capitol and Louisiana. We did a lot of walking in humid, hot days. The visit to D.C. was a real endurance test. But... you can't have enough Capitol dome shots.
The Lincoln Monument!
Mom's inevitable comment (inspired, I am sure, by a visit to Disneyland's "Great Moments with Mister Lincoln"): "It looks like he's going to stand up from that chair!"
A different day, a different gallon of sweat. Mom suffered greatly during that quarter mile walk down the reflecting pond to the Washington Monument.
I may only be in a tee shirt and shorts, but I'm dyin', here. (I indicate this by the tongue lolling out.) Note the knobbiest of knees.
"Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?"
We toured the interior and it was from that visit that I learned I liked Federal period furniture. I wanted my house to look like the interior of the White House. Fat chance!
Arlington Cemetery. This was a hike in the heat, sometimes up hills. But we had to go... Mom was a major JFK fan, and so had to see the eternal flame. Once again, I wear an expression suggesting that I am not a happy tourist. A dehydrated tourist, perhaps.
And there's the flame. I recall being distinctly unimpressed. Mom got a bit teary eyed, I believe.
I was much more impressed with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier...
...and with the military precision of the guard's movements.
The Smithsonian! That's more like it! Yeah, yeah, take a photo... now let's go inside.
Wow... check it out! A Polaris missile! This is SO cool. I used to draw rocketships just like this a lot when I was a smaller, so I really enjoyed this.
The Gallery of the First Ladies in their inaugural gowns was far less impressive to me, of course, but Mom liked it.
I recall this photo well. It was getting late and the Smithsonian was preparing to close. I hadn't seen everything I wanted to see - I loved the place - and Mom was insisting upon halts for photos. Someday, I told myself, like General MacArthur, I shall return.
A some point we took a bus tour. I suspect a desire for air conditioning was what primarily influenced this decision. Here's the Jefferson Memorial, seen from the bus. Back in the pre-terrorist days you could park your car right next to the thing. No more. Parking is now about a half mile away.
In the Jefferson Memorial. Shooting into the light worked no better in 1968 than it does nowadays. Is that a pipe that guy on the left has in his hands?
The Iwo Jima Marine Corps Monument, across the river in Virginia. Seven years later I'd be a Marine! Did this influence me? Honestly... no, it didn't.
I will! I will!
You have got to love Mom's composition of this photograph.
Watching money get printed was fascinating...
...and both of us liked the fountain in front of the Justice Building at night, when this shot was taken. I probably splashed myself with some of the water to cool off. In fact, I'm sure I did.
A trip to Mount Vernon. I vividly recall posing next to this sign. It was very hot and this Californian in a humid clime was suffering greatly.
Yeah, Mom, whatever. Mount Vernon, the home of the Father of Our Country. Can we find some SHADE, please?
(I was considering Photoshopping the little girl out of the picture, but perhaps she'll recognize herself and send me a email thank you. Funnier things have happened on the Internet, you know.)
My text concludes with this image. I was impressed by the size of this building and so was Mom. Nowadays I'm impressed with the fact that it looks like my shirt is drenched with sweat. That's D.C. in July!