Getting to be a Tourist Where You Live

by cathrynbauer

The Greensboro, NC lunch counter where, in 1960, four African-American men asked for service — and changed the world.

We took most of yesterday off and went into D.C.  It was actually Ted’s first foray.  We went up to the American History Museum at the Smithsonian.  It was so vast that we didn’t even see everything we wanted to.  But we live here now, and we are going to make this a frequent off-season activity.  Then we went to see “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and had a tapas dinner.  Very satisfying date day.  Really surprising how quickly you can get from urban delights to semi-rural in this area.   In the semi-rural, there’s space and quiet and green (actually, this morning, there’s a fair amount of white, too; snowed last night).  But good restaurants are few and far between.  We were feted as newcomers at the only one I can think of about 20 miles south of us in Solomons Island.  Clearly, taking cooking seriously would be a really good idea.

There was so much to see, and to a large extent, yes, it was propaganda.  It was like a giant scrapbook for America, one that was heavily edited.  We saw the lunch counter, but not photographs of guns pointed at peaceable protesters.  Didn’t see anything at all about citizen resistance to the Vietnam War.  This is surprising to me because it defined so much of the culture in the 1960s and early ’70s!  In all the celebration of citizen ingenuity during World War II, I did not see a single mention of the internment camps that citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry languished in during that time.  There was, however, an exhibition that took an unflinching look at Thomas Jefferson and slavery.  At the beginning, it focused on his ambivalence about the institution, but segued into a fascinating display and discussion of life at Monticello and what could be learned about slave life there.  I took lots of notes on my iPhone of subjects I wanted to Google later.  For all it was lacking, it was an impressive display and well worth seeing.  I’m sure we will go back and see the section on technology and transportation.  We were just museum’d out, so we got something to eat and decided to find a movie.