I’m starting the day at the National Museum of American History.
I’ve chosen this little number for my outfit du jour, because the shirt has that whole prairie spinster vibe (but in a good way) and it seemed appropriate for a history museum. Besides, it’s pretty. Now if only I had Jane Seymour-esque hair to go with it, but I gave that up years ago and I left my concert hair at home. (Don’t ask.)
So. American History. If you’ll hearken back to my Vacation Rules, you may recall that I advise choosing one “must-do” thing per trip. Today I’m going to do mine. It’s on the first floor of the Museum and it’s one of the things that brought D.C. to the top of my “need to visit” list more than a year ago. Today—this morning, in fact—I’m going to visit Julia Child’s kitchen.
You have to love the scope of the Smithsonian. They didn’t just take some pots and pans, they moved the whole shebang from Julia’s Cambridge, Mass home. It’s quite appealing in a retro kind of way and the color scheme is fabulous. See for yourself here: Julia will even welcome you to the exhibit in her own words.
But there’s much more to see. For example, up on the second floor is the star-spangled banner. THE. Star. Spangled. Banner. I’ve been singing about this flag my whole life, and here it is, in the . . . in the cloth. It’s a HUGE (30-by 34-foot) flag and used to be even bigger. The poor thing is full of holes (apparently pieces were cut out over the years for souvenirs) and just about worn to shreds. But it’s majestic and touching and brings a lump to my throat. I’d serenade it, but I’m not sure the guards would appreciate my singing, no matter how round my tone may be, so I’ll just sing in my head. (Oddly enough, in my head my Star-Spangled Banner sounds suspiciously like Sandi Patty’s version.)
Also on this floor is the First Ladies at the Smithsonian exhibit. We’re talking gowns, Inaugural gowns, plus other personal memorabilia. I did not know that Eleanor Roosevelt was a tall woman until I saw this exhibit; somehow my mental image of her was kind of short and dumpy. Her dress is that pale pink one (it does strike me as slightly dumpy, but not short); it’s made of rayon, which was a new fabric at the time and probably a patriotic gesture—wasn’t silk in demand for parachutes or something during the war?
All this wandering and gawking and silent singing, not to mention imagining the delicacies that came from Julia’s kitchen, made me hungry. Fortunately, I don’t even have to leave the building. The Stars and Stripes Café is celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, and a bowl of tortilla soup will hit the spot nicely. So I’ll just go there now and meet up with you later, ‘K?
All images courtesy National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution