Monday, February 20, 2012

Come One, Come All, to a Country Ball in Honor of George Washington's Birthday

Poor George Washington, your birthday so forgotten, now the Presidents' Day holiday just another sale day, and another day off from work (or for those who don't have off, to be angry they aren't). Not for readers of this blog! We shall attend a Country Ball in River Edge, New Jersey with the Bergen County Historical Society, complete with dancing, cherry pie, and merriment. Full disclosure: I didn't think much about the holiday at all until I got into the spirit by going to this ball the past few years. Re-enactors did the dancing this day, but I had warm memories of getting in on the fun on a warm summer evening in July at the Calico Frolic (flashback here).
I always feel like I'm watching a period movie being shot.

George presenting Martha. He would be the stepfather to her two children from her first marriage, and they would have none of their own (his earlier bout with small pox may have doomed chances for any bloodline descendants).

This American Centennial Quilt was on display, made by Sarah Cooper Hill in 1875 in Hackensack, New Jersey. A true work of art on par with any painting or sculpture.

The detail is extravagant. This is a show piece, but in general, I just love quilts, don't you? I'm not going to add quilting to my seemingly unachievable to do list: speak and write French, learn to tap dance, cook from scratch almost everything, learn to make my own clothes. It is a craft worth admiring.

In the Black Horse tavern, the barman is ready to quench your thirst with some cider.

On the cherry tree myth, Wikipedia notes,
"Apocryphal stories about Washington's childhood include a claim...that he chopped down his father's cherry tree and admitted the deed when questioned: "I can't tell a lie, Pa." The anecdote was first reported by biographer Parson Weems, who after Washington's death interviewed people who knew him also a child. The Weems version was very widely reprinted throughout the 19th century, for example in McGuffey Readers. Moralistic adults wanted children to learn moral lessons from the past from history, especially as taught by great national heroes like Washington. After 1890 however, historians insisted on scientific research methods to validate every story, and there was no evidence for this anecdote apart from Weems' report. Joseph Rodman in 1904 noted that Weems plagiarized other Washington tales from published fiction set in England. No one has found an alternative source for the cherry tree story, thus Weems' credibility is questioned."

Soldiers outside the Dutch Out Kitchen. We tend to not only forget the sacrifices of our founding fathers, but also those who did battle. This observation very much stuck with me on the web site for the Morristown National Park,

"The deep snow was the keystone in the arch of starvation. We were absolutely, literally starved. For four days and as many nights I did not put a single morsel into my mouth except a little black birch bark I gnawed off a limb. Some boiled and ate their shoes. Some officers killed a pet dog for food. If this was not starving, I wonder what was." - Joseph P. Martin

An simple adornment of Indian Corn on the door of the Dutch out kitchen pleases the eye.

The whole foods outside the kitchen, like apples, onions, potatoes and carrots, make you want to a) shun the processed foods too much in many of our diets, and b) go home and make a soup or stew or an apple crisp.

A soldier looks on at the feast being prepared: acorn squash stewed with pears; Brussels sprouts; chicken stew, a corn cheddar chowder, and fresh bread baking.

A woman spinning wool. Think how labor intensive this was.

Something about this piece of Buffalo Pottery just spoke to me in the gift shop. With my 10 percent membership discount, I picked it up for $18. From eHow, "Buffalo Pottery was named for the New York city in which it originated, but the reason the brand became so successful had nothing to do with bison or location. The Buffalo Pottery story began when the owner of the Larkin Soap Company decided to commission a limited edition soap dish to hype flagging sales while differentiating the brand from competitors. Over time, Buffalo Pottery products grew more popular than the soap so the same genius marketer who came up with the idea for the soap dish premium (Mr. Larkin) diversified his holdings and opened a pottery business."
An 18th century bed said to have been slept in by George Washington. A prediction: my IKEA bed frame will not have such a long lifespan.

A young girl walks down a gravel path toward a very modern world, with history in her heart, much like it is in mine.

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