Monday, September 27, 2010

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

After braces, since we were in Mentor and had Bastian with us for the ride, I thought we'd stop at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. This would be, of course, very "educational" and a productive use of my time, not to mention a nice pat-on-the-back for me as a mother. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

In the end, I held the most interest about President Garfield and his former home. The children picked up little bits and got to complete activities to try for Junior Ranger-ship, which also held little interest for them. They did it anyway.President Garfield served the second shortest term as president, since he was assassinated less than a year into his term. From what I got, his presidency wasn't even controversial. He was simply shot by a rival who lived a very similar life, entering into politics under similar circumstances, and then got royally ticked off when Garfield passed him over for an ambassador appointment. He lived for a month, gradually ailing from the wound before succumbing to death. His last letter was to his mother in an attempt to offer comfort to her. He's buried near our house, actually.

The boys favorite of the whole tour was I think the table with inlaid abalone depicting a spider and its web in the library. Photos were not allowed indoors. Garfield's widow came into some money after his death from another relative (presidents weren't bagillionaires in those days, as they are now), which she used to add onto the house. Interesting to all of us, she included a safe room in these additions, which looks like a primitive panic room, essentially.
The boys just happily crossed off items on their Junior Ranger bingo which I helped them to find in the house and grounds.
Just outside the library window was a European Weeping Beech tree which the rangers believed was planted by Garfield's wife, Lucretia.
Aleks decided the low branches were ideal for climbing. Alas, he fell out, adding a nice fat bruise to his lower back to his day's pain. Shortly after, I administered Tylenol to him for the pressure from his new braces, which aided the fall as well. I'm always reminding him how the authorities at varying places are going to yell at me for allowing him to create such a liability. He ignores me, not understanding my big words.
In the gift shop, the children finished the required activities to be appointed National Park Service Junior Rangers. The ranger there had them raise their right hands and recite the Junior Ranger pledge. Aleks objected to the last bit of the Junior Ranger pledge which had him promising to visit other National Historic Sites and get involved in Junior Ranger programs there. He was not about that type of long term commitment. I offered a philosophical exemption to the Ranger about just that line and she agreed that he could get his certificate and badge anyway. We also both assured him that it was a promise to try and not really a commitment. This didn't really seem to matter to him. He still wouldn't say it.

Bastian tried on a Union hat and had me photo him in front of this miniature of the Civil War Battle of Shiloh. Garfield, you see, was a Major General in the United States Army at the time and fought there. Bastian just wanted to wear the hat. I at least insisted he try the Union and not the Confederate hat on. Important details, don't you know.

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