Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A very crowded week

Holy moly what a week!  Let me preface this entry with a factoid: I leave the house at 5:15 am, I get home at 9:30 pm.  I spend a lot of time being sleepy or tired.

That being said, let's take a look at my first week of rangering on the Mall, Wednesday through Sunday.

Every day starts with roll call at the Survey Lodge; this is where all the rangers and guides get their assignments for the day.

Muy first morning on the Mall found me working the Washington Monument.  WAMO is pretty labor intensive with five rangers or guides working.  Two of us work inside alternately operating the elevator. Outdoors another person assists visitors at the entrance, one person works the line, and one person is a rover - chatting up visitors and providing breaks for the rest of us. 

This is me at WAMO getting photo-bombed by a cute dog. 

On Wednesday the weather was great and it was a lot of fun working there.  The audience is very different than that at Antietam.  I met more international visitors in the first thirty seconds than I had in eight years at the battlefield, its a reminder that when people from other countries want to experience America on a time budget they come to Washington DC

During my 70 second "elevator talk" I inform visitors that if they look out the western windows of the monument they'll see a temporary art installation entitled "Out of Many, One" (e Pluribis Unim).  Its a huge face, a composite of over thirty individual faces.

Using satillite technology, sand, topsoil, and four miles of string the giant face resides along the reflecting pool and will remain for much of the autumn.

On Thursday I was assigned to the Korean War Veterans Memorial (KOWA) with Ranger Ted, who, you may remember, was one of my trainers.

Here's Ted having a conversation with visitors about the meaning of the memorial.

As with all sunny days on the Mall, there was no shortage of visitors.

While Ted was doing the program I was in the kiosk giving out visitor information, the most commonly asked question being "Where is the bathroom?".  Fortunately, I know the answer.

"Honor Flights" provide WWII veterans the opportunity to visit the Mall and to see the monuments erected to commemorate their service and sacrifice in the defense of our nation. Large groups of veterans, many in wheelchairs are a frequent sight on the Mall.  Often they are willing to share their stories with visitors and rangers alike.

Friday found me back at KOWA with Erik and Tom. Tom's a great guy who is heading of for a year on an Americorps appointment.  He's also my connection for high-grade chocolate

On Sunday I was back at WAMO.  It was cold, rainy, and windy. I was wearing a raincoat over a parka over a jacket.  It was pretty miserable, and didn't lend itself to photos.  Working outdoors 365 days a year will take some getting used to.  Fortunately I have the wardrobe to see me through all four seasons.

By Sunday the weather had cleared considerably and I began a five-day stint at Ford's Theater which will continue into the coming week.

Ford's is still very much an active theater and is operated by the Ford's Theater Society (go here) in partnership with the National Park Service. They put on four shows per season and currently are staging "Driving Miss Daisy".  The theater society people are really nice and a pleasure to work with.

There are also ranger programs every day; here an audience gathers in the balcony to hear a program about the murder of Abraham Lincoln by the scoundrel Booth.

The fateful derringer resides in the lower level museum, a museum which is a must-see when in our nations's capital.

Across from the theater is the Petersen House.  An NPS site, this is the place where the mortally-wounded president was taken to live his final hours, he died on April 15th 1865 scant days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

The Petersen house was a boarding house, and just happened to be across the street from the Theater.  A light was on and a lodger shouted for the medical party to bring the wounded president hence. This is one of the rooms upstairs where visitors aren't allowed to go.

This is the view of the theater enjoyed by the occupant of that room.

And this is the room where Lincoln breathed his last breath.

Ford's theater is an evocative place for its history and a very exciting place for its current role as an active theater venue in downtown Washington DC.  I know that I'm really going to enjoy the coming week as I learn the ropes at this historic gem of the National Mall.

 I'll save you an aisle seat.

Recovering on my couch, just north of Boonsboro,

Ranger Mannie

1 comment:

Chris Evans said...

Great post. Hope you are very successful on the mall.

Thanks for the pictures of Ford's Theater and the Petersen House. Really fascinating.

I still think the most interesting movie depiction of that fateful day is TNT's movie from 1998 'The Day Lincoln was Shot'. Lance Henriksen plays Lincoln and Rob Morrow plays Booth. It is available on DVD.

It has some very moving dialogue as when Robert Lincoln asks Charles Leale, "Did you know my Father" and Leale replies "No, but I loved him".