Sunday, July 27, 2014

Finding a Historic Gem with GoofGirl: Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

Before she went off to camp GoofGirl wanted an adventure. Her brother and I had gone to an Orioles game the week before. Now it was her turn.

She asked about, "A walk where there was a lot of history."

She's very much my daughter!

"Like a battlefield?" I asked, hopefully.



"Well there are three wars that have been fought around here, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the War of 1812. Pick one."

"War of 1812, but not Fort McHenry, I've already been there."

So I did some research and found Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. A War of 1812 skirmish was fought there. But that's not all. There was a Native American village, a colonial settlement, an elegant estate from the 1930s, of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline, and a working archeological dig.

How had I, a native Marylander who is always looking for interesting things to do and is obsessed with history, not known about such an incredible place!

I began plotting:
If we left at 6am, we'd get there at 8 and we could sneak in before it opened and see the native American village and maybe some of the archaeological digs. Then we'd catch the first round of the historic re-enactment and then have time to see the Patterson Estate. We could catch another round of the re-enactment, and have time visit some of the exhibits.
GoofGirl was looking forward to it, but was perhaps not quite as excited as I was. As is often the case when dealing with me, she had to be the adult: "Daddy, we don't have to see everything. We can go back another time."

And we couldn't see everything, because the day we were going was also a re-enactment, part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 (which was mostly fought in 1814.)

It was crowded and we didn't get a good view of the naval skirmish, although we saw the cannons firing. We had a nice time walking through the market looking at handcrafted products inspired by their early 19th century counterparts. Fascinated by the toiletriesof two centuries ago, GoofGirl lingered.

Then there was a re-enactment of the land battle, which I watched with utter fascination. For GoofGirl, a little of this sort of thing goes a long way.

Then, in the huge crowd, we happened to run into one of the staff archaeologists. Naturally, I peppered her with questions. To my delight, GoofGirl had a great many as well!

“What kinds of things do you find?”

“What do you learn about the people who used to live here?”

“Do you match the artifacts with records from the archives?”

“What’s a good day for you?”

And so on.

Eventually, we freed her. But we agreed that we’d have to come back for one of the days when the public can join in on the digging.

Then, as things were winding down, we explored the Native American village. The park was closing. GoofGirl took me by the hand and said, "OK Daddy, this was really interesting, but I think we've seen enough for one day. Let's go home. You've been good, so I'll let you listen to NPR on the drive back."

Friday, July 04, 2014

Free at last! Free at last! Father Goof is free at last!

The little Goofs are at sleep-away camp and Mama Goof is in Los Angeles on family business. So this 4th of July Father Goof is celebrating his freedom.

Freedom from carpool, laundry, constant requests to purchase apps, and cries of boredom when electronics are banned.

And what am I doing to celebrate this freedom?

Whatever I want!
  • Leaving newspapers on the dining room table!
  • Leaving the toilet seat up!
  • When I bring stuff into the house, I just put it down in the foyer and put it away when I am good and ready!
  • And, best of all, I can eat whenever I want!

Not whatever I want – I’m a grown-up, if I want to go eat chips just before bed or cookies for breakfast, who is going to stop me? Besides of course my own neuroses that said cookies will go straight to my hips.

But to eat when I want, ah now that’s freedom.

I’m a good parent, so when the little Goofs are home, we have family dinner, whether I am hungry or not. But now, a late, late lunch and a super late dinner on the couch watching Family Guy re-runs – if that isn’t pursuit of happiness, I don’t know what is.

Is my use of freedom kind of pathetic? Maybe, who cares? As one ages one learns to set the bar low. What should I be doing? Engaging in picaresque adventures through the Washington suburbs? Going to strange dives, meeting colorful rogues and brawling and carousing with them? Do you know me? I don’t do these things. Even in my youthful adventurous drives cross-country I stayed in Holiday Inns because I liked the breakfast muffins.

What I could be doing is meeting up with old friends for dinner and drinks. But for the most part, their kids haven’t gone away and they continue to labor under the tyrannical yoke of parenthood. 

The revolution has only just begun, no dad is free until we all are free.