Friday, June 20, 2014

Sluggy Alone in DC.....Part 2

Thursday dawned and a quick look out the window I discovered the weather was sucky for outdoor sightseeing.
Yep, forecast for all day was rain, a slow drizzly rain.  Any copious amount of walking outside is difficult for me, add in heat and/or rain and it's just not going to happen.

Hubs left early as the conference goers had a breakfast meeting.  The thought of an $18(yikes!) room service "pastry basket" put me off.
So after a leisurely shower and downing the leftovers of the welcoming fruit plate from the day before and a cup of hot tea I readied myself for the day and left the room at the crack of 10.

Touring monuments via the "jump on/jump off" buses was not the option I went with because of the precipitation.  Instead I found a nice INDOOR thing to do and it was only 2 blocks away so I could walk that.  I waited for the rain to let up and walked over.

So where did I go?

Why the US Postal Museum, of course.

That place is jam packed with information and stuff.

I found particularly interesting these postal mailing containers.
Back in the 1800's, as the country expanded west, most goods were unavailable locally in stores, so most everything that had to be bought was delivered by mail from manufacturers/companies back east.

This metal box is for shipping could hold 6 dozen if memory serves.

This was a metal box a college student could use to ship their dirty laundry home and have it returned clean by dear old mom.   This was a common practice into the 1940's believe it or not.   Thankfully for me, colleges have now discovered washing machines....lolz 
Seriously?  Would you want your ungrateful teen sending you their dirty drawers?

This tiny 6 inch long wooden container was for shipping bees...probably just a few queens.
I've known a few queens in my life and none of them would fit in this.....hell no honey!

And this wooden insulated box was for shipping butter.
Mmmm.....doesn't it make your mouth water?

They had an interactive exhibit for mail sorting.  For kids there were mail bags and packages set up and they could throw sort the parcels.

For the older peoples there was a mail sorting machine/keyboard.  After a quick tutorial you had to be the sorting operator and input postal zip codes into the machine to route the letters to the proper office.  The thing sped up as you worked.
The lady before me failed this test miserably but it looks like I have a bright future in the US postal service......well, if it was still 1972.

Here is an old scale.  I had to put that in as tribute to my years of selling crap on scale was practically my BFF back then.

An old postal wagon used pre-1920.

Stagecoaches were used for mail delivery well into the 1900's.


This was the top of the line in stagecoaches.....made by the Downing and Abbott company in Concord NH.  They were the most comfortable of coaches and fanciest....and I daresay the most expensive! lol 
Of course the ones used in the west had no glass windows, as the rough trails out there would have shattered them all by the first day of the journey.  These mail coaches as they were known were produced until 1919 by this firm.
I sure hope there was plenty of padding on the ones used out west, so the passengers didn't get too roughed up on the journey.

Can you imagine having the view of this for hour after hour, day after day if you drove wagon back in the day?

William Goddard is an important historical figure in our early history as a nation, and was instrumental in setting up the predecessor of what we know as the US postal system today.
He worked with Benjamin Franklin to innovate and set up a mail delivery system between the colonies, separate from the British mail system then in use.  As the means of communication between colonies during the American Revolution it was a vital part in our winning that struggle.

While the Continental Congress passed him over and gave the job of US Postmaster General to Benjamin Franklin, William Goddard essentially became our first Postal Inspector.  Goddard was also a publisher and printer...... was his older sister, Mary Katherine.

For all you feminists out there, Mary was our first Postmistress.
Along with their parents, they founded the first newspaper in Providence RI called the Providence Gazette.  William left to start a newspaper in Philadelphia, as well as a revolutionary journal called The Maryland Journal.  
When William started traveling to promote a postal system for the Colonies, Mary took over  running The Maryland Journal until 1784.

Mary Katherine Goddard became Postmaster of the Baltimore MD post office, which at that time was the busiest branch in the Colonies.
She also ran a bookstore and published an almanac over the course of her career.
Her big claim to fame was that she was the first publisher, while heading the Maryland Journal, to publish the certified copy of the Declaration of Independence with all the signatures of the Continental Congress, that was circulated.

Might I add that this was quite the risky thing to do, and treasonous by British standards, and put her life at great personal risk to be hanged as a traitor to the Crown.
Mary Katherine Goddard, you had you some balls lady!

They had an actual old post office, such that you would find inside a general store, which included this bank of metal post boxes.

You know, my postal box at college looked just like these!
Yes, I am as old as dirt.....

Oh look!

 To totally changed gears, here's The Unabomber exhibit....

 Complete with a replica Unabomber package.

I learned way more about the Pony Express than I ever wanted to know...

The Pony Express only lasted for 19 months or 308 runs.
The bag used to carry the mail was called a mochila.
Mail cost $5 for half an ounce at the start and was reduced to $1.
$3.45 was the charge for carrying the first 10 words of a telegram.
Special lightweight paper was used to print newspapers that were carried via Pony Express.
34,753 mail items were carried in total.
The route ran from Saint Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA.
The first trip west took 10 days.
400 horses and 120 riders total were involved.
Riders could weigh no more than 125 lbs.
Riders were paid $100 a month.  (Unskilled labor of that time by comparison was $1 or less a day.)
There are only 2 reports of lost mail(one due to Indian attack).
Most well known Pony Express rider was William Cody(aka Buffalo Bill), though he is a celebrity not for his PE days but for exploits later in life.

First rider was either Johnson William "Billy" Richardson or Johnny Fry(back row, left to right)......

Me with a display about how important the mail system was during the westward expansion/the Great European immigration during the mid to late 1800's.  Pre telephone, letters were how families, separated by continents and oceans, stayed in touch.

And a clip of a letter sent during this time.....

Me with Zippy......Mr. Zip to you.....

There was an actual railway mail train car in the hall.
Inside was a film....

My favorite part was the exhibit about Owney, the Postal Mascot Dog.
Here's the film about Owney they show in a kinescope machine in the main hall.  Try to ignore the children screaming and the power tools background noise.  No, the kids weren't running amok with chainsaws and drills that day nor where they filming another in the series of Friday the 13th movies.  US government employees were working on a closed exhibit(your tax dollars at work!) while a swarm of pre-schoolers with their handlers were storming through the museum.

Unfortunately(or fortunately)they don't tell you about the sad end Owney came to.  It's still mired in controversy but the story goes that Owney was "put down"/shot June 11, 1897 in Toledo OH, amid claims that Owney had became aggressive.

Other sources claim that a kind hearted mail clerk in St. Louis had taken Owney in during his dotage and the head of the Railway Mail Service told his employees not to let the "mongrel cur" ride in mail trains any longer.  This officials employees defied their boss and took Owney on a mail train to Toledo, where he was said to have attacked a mail clerk and a US Marshal there so the Toledo Postmaster shot Owney dead.  It's reported that a mail clerk had chained Owney in Toledo in the basement of the post office there and many suspect that this is why the dog became aggressive.  The Chicago Tribune at that time, displayed outrage and called it "an execution" and there has never been a satisfactory answer surrounding this event.  The Postal Museum kind of glosses over this incident.

The museum even have the real stuffed Owney in a glass case in the lobby.  After he was put down he was "preserved" and in 1911, whoever had him then, donated him to the Smithsonian and he came to live here in the Postal Museum.
If you want to see his carcass you can Google Owney.  It was just a little too gruesome for me, as the passing years have not been kind to Owney.
Poor doggy.

I did purchase a pin, in the gift shop, of the postage stamp released in 2011 honoring Owney.....

Da plane! Da plane!

In 1911 this Wiseman-Cooke aircraft made the first mail flight officially sanctioned by a U.S. Post Office.     Fred Wiseman flew from Petaluma to Santa Rosa in California.  The trip took 2 days.

An old mail truck, early 21st Century.

In the Wartime Mail display, a coconut mailed home to his wife by a serviceman during his stint in the South Pacific theatre of World War II.
And it was delivered safely to Springfield, MA.

A statue honoring Benjamin Franklin in one of the hallways outside the Museum near the restrooms.
What an honor.....

There was also an exhibit of  stamps issued over the decades by the US Postal Service in another part of the building.
Philately doesn't rock my world so I just made a quick duck into that exhibit and that was enough for me.

There was also a small gift shop and even better, a Stamp Store next to it that carrie almost every single US postage stamp currently available.
Of course I couldn't think of any single stamp design I wanted at that moment. 8-P

Of more interest to me was the architecture of the old Post Office building the Postal Museum is house inside......this was the City Post Office building for Washington D.C.  Constructed in 1914 it served in that capacity until 1986.

 A shot out in the lobby(of the old customer windows), before you have to go through the metal detectors and the surly guards to get into the museum space.

The incredibly detailed plasterwork on the ceilings from 1914.  You don't see this artistry anymore.

One of the two main entrances viewed from the inside toward the door.
The Postal Museum takes up 75,000 square feet of the old City Post Office but there is much more room than that in this building.

After taking in the postal sites I slogged in the rain, a block over, to Union Station.  This is the transportation hub for the Capital Hill area.  It's a bus, train, subway station.
Completed in 1908, Union Station, was designed by Daniel H. Burnham in the Beaux Arts style.  The building is modeled after the Baths of Caraculla and Diocletian and the triumphal Arch of Rome.  The exterior was constructed with white granite from Vermont.  The interior woodwork is all mahogany.

The design included statues of semi-clothed Roman figures. The figures were originally cast as nudes, but railroad officials, fearing the public would be offended, ordered shields be strategically placed on each statue.  Love them Victorians......

The building cost $4 Million to complete in 1908.
The restoration of the building cost $160 Million and was completed in 1988.

A bit of trivia about Union Station--During World War I it was used to mobilize the US troops heading overseas and many prominent woman in Washington Society worked in the Station's canteen serving our boys in uniform.  One of them was the second Mrs.Woodrow Wilson, Edith White Bolling, who happens to be my 7x Great Grandmother's niece, through her third marriage to Thomas Jefferson's uncle, Field Jefferson.  I talked before about Edith HERE and Mary and Field HERE

Besides being a transportation hub there are restaurants and shops galore in the new improved Union Station.

I picked up a few souvenirs at a couple of stores there, though I didn't buy any of these cute sock monkeys.....

I went into some stores I have never been in before as well, like H&M and The Body Shop.
I didn't stay too long in The Body Shop as there was a super aggressive sales lady chasing me around with her sales speil and squirting me with fragrances and lotions.
I smelled like a French whorehouse by the time I emerged from that place!
Way to lose a customer bitch.....

I grabbed a sub sandwich from a food vendor called The Potbelly Sandwich Works and a bottled tea and wearily trudged back to the hotel to eat in the room around 2:30pm.

A bit of internet time and then Hubs was back from his day of conferencing.
Soon we rode down for the big Conference Dinner in the banquet room of the restaurant next door to Hotel George, which was actually IN the hotel.

A cocktail hour with appetizers(duck breast egg rolls?  Yes please!!).  I sat on the red sofa in the photo above, awkwardly alone, while Hubs did his mingling thing about the room.  A few of his industry coworkers came and sat and talked with me when they tired of talking shop and we had a delightful visit.  Seems one of Hubs coworkers has vacationed on Bailey's Island off the coast of Brunswick, Maine, where I spent 2 Summer's working theatre.  We compared notes and reminisced about our experiences there.

Then it was time to sit down to dinner.....
 Filet Mignon and Crab Cake.....

Dessert was a plate of amuse bouche pastries.  The best one was at the back, the yellow rectangular one.  Notice the tiny macaroon....I think it was 1/2" wide.  WTF?!?  And it had no flavor.....
I am still NOT convinced that they didn't actually make a mistake and serve us a board game piece--right size, and those have no flavor as well.....

 Our table with some of the conference attendees.

Hubs looks a bit lit up in this

Soon it was back to the room.  After a cocktail, 2 glasses of wine and dinner, sleep soon followed.....and I am guessing it's safe to say that snoring also followed as well.



  1. I would have loved the PO museum. Plus, I like to do the kid stuff. Somehow, I did not get the transition from Pony Express riders to the dog. I was just horrified that a man had been chained in the basement and then shot when he became aggressive AND stuffed and put on display.

    I wonder if isinglass was used for the coach windows. I would have found the million and one way to die in the West. My allergies and asthma would have done me in.

    Your day seemed very well-spent.

  2. My daughter's favorite Smithsonian. Every kid we have sent there loves that museum. By the way welcome to Bossier!

  3. Seems that you made a great choice! I would have liked a visit there as well. I smiled about the laundry sesnt home, I recall stories of when my uncles were in boarding school (40-50's era) and they sent their wash home, but I think it may have been via train. Not sure. I am also "old as dirt"-my college mailboxes are identical to those pictured!
    Thanks for sharing your trip!

  4. the PO museum and union station and the john wanamaker store (philly) and the marshal field store (chicago) were all designed by daniel burnham. a genius!

  5. One queen and a couple of attendants per box, queens need help eating and always travel with attendants. One of the three round holes was packed with a crystallized sugar compound to keep her fed during transit. When I was growing up a dozen of those arrived every week in April and May at our house. Did they have the cages they shipped worker bees in? A dozen three pound cages of worker bees always caused a buzz in the local post office.

  6. Hahaha, I never saw that museum, but sounds like fun. Congrats on being a good 1972 postal worker! And those are some really fancy PO boxes... mine at work are nowhere near as nice! Is that the inverted plane?

  7. I'd heard of the postal museum but didn't realize it was so cool


  8. I adore museums like this one! I should send you my link to '29 weird museums'

  9. I can't even imagine what DJ's clothes would smell like if they were closed up in a metal box for say a week. UGH!


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