Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tour Marm's First 100!

Well! One Hundred Posts!

It couldn't have come at a better time as I shall be temporarily abandoning the blog while I am on tour!

There have been so many surprises!

Not only have I met some wonderful people, but I have been treated to pleasant, instructive, poignant, and provocative posts. I have had several cheerleaders, but I want to thank Elementary History Teacher over at History is Elementary for her kindness and generosity; her blog is my gold standard.

I have experimented with style and content and participated in the Wordless Wednesday and Thursday Thirteen memes. Some people liked my Figure-It-Out Friday.

I entered a few Carnivals and won a Blog of the Day Award.

Additionally, I was contacted by two editors of magazines and two of my posts were picked up as featured articles. One will appear in Lost Magazine in May and another in the AFT Quarterly. (I'm even getting paid!!!) Considering that I have not written seriously since my school days, it has been rather encouraging!

Lately, my workload and some health issues prevented me from being as thorough as I wanted but perhaps after my tour season, I shall have a bit more time to expand. I have learned that I don't have to produce something each day. (I wonder how people have so much time to do just that!) My visitation to other blogs came to a halt; I think I'll arrange to have 'visiting days' Monday and Tuesday and only post three days a week.

There were regrets due to WORD document failures: My articles on Dr. Ralph Bunche (who lived a few blocks from me in Kew Gardens, NY), Emma Roebling, and General William Tecumseh Sherman were lengthy posts that seem to be frozen. It was frustrating and quite disappointing.

The real purpose of this blog was to assist those who were interested in educational travel programs for their students, and I need to return to that concept since I seem to be the only one in the blogsphere who designs and conducts tours. I was hoping to attract some teachers and administrators, not for personal gain, but to give them ideas of alternative services and resources. So from now on, my posts will concentrate in some way to a site or something that would help the planning and decision process. It's time to get focused. I welcome questions concerning logistics etc. and would like to set up a forum with those who have traveled.

It has become evident that I also need a crash course on HTML!

However, I decided to list some of my personal favorites for you to look over while I am away: Please don't hesitate to leave comments - I crave feedback!

If you have questions unrelated to the posts, would like to share your travel experiences, or have any other comments, please use the Q&A Forum. This is also the place to ask the question you yahoo'd/googled that directed you to this blog - I might be able to answer it for you!

Personal Experience:

Let's Go Fly a Kite
Poetry for School and Soul: Growing Up With poetry
Bringing Cemeteries to Life - John Meigs Effigy
Christina Meets Thomas Jefferson
What's Wrong with Homework?
The Tour Marm Goes on Strike: How I dealt with Frustration
Craig Ferguson: Role Model
American Paintings I Love: Can you identify them?
The Tour Marm in the Twilight Zone

About Touring:

Journeys vs Guided Tours
Touring for God and Country
Thirteen Overlooked Sites in Washington, DC
Teaching to the Trip
How to Make Appointments for the US Capitol, White House, etc.
Night at the Museum: Overnight Visits
Salem and Peabody Essex Museum
Lame Tour Guide Jokes
Tour Talk: Codes and Catch Phrases
NCLB My Way: Counting Systems
Thirteen Things I Hate To Do in DC During Student Tour Season
March Madness


Good Hands
Charles Willson Peale: Renaissance Man Answer
Baptism of Pocahontas
Kindred Spirits
Phoebe Snow: Advertising Icon
The Donner Party and Lincoln Connection - FIOF
Fugitive Slave: Oney (Ona) Judge Staines

I hope you enjoy reading these and you are welcomed to leave your comments either with the posts or on the Q&A Forum.


The Educational Tour Marm

The Lutherans Are Coming! The Lutherans Are Coming!

It gives me a great deal of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when I have schools that have actually changed their travel dates so that I would be able to conduct their respective trips!

While I am not a Lutheran, I feel as if I have become an 'adopted Lutheran'!

Four Lutheran schools, two from the LA area and two from the Seattle area will be arriving, one after the other, starting Monday. (There are three Lutheran Synods that I know of: Evangelical, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Most of my Lutheran schools are Missouri Synod.)

In one case, I drop one group at the airport in the late afternoon, and pick up another from a redeye the next morning!

I have been connected to three of these schools for over 20 years! In fact, there is one school that has had me as a guide and designer for 24 of their 26 years traveling!

Because of the festivities and crowds in the Jamestown and Williamsburg areas, two opted for some alternate locations.

Tomorrow I shall be traveling to Philadelphia to pick up the Seattle group the next morning. We will be visiting the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, the Independence Seaport Museum, Temple Mikvah Israel for their program, Arch Street Friends Meeting House (Quaker/Society of Friends), have a Colonial Tea Program, lunch at City tavern, and of course, a cheesesteak at either Geno's or Pat's. They will also go onto Lancaster for an Underground Railroad Program and each in an Amish Farmhouse. There's also Gettysburg, and Washington, DC. We will be meeting Nancy Pelosi. A highlight will be the Ford's Theatre Performance of, 'Meet John Doe'. One of the students is a direct descendant of George Mason, so the visit to Gunston Hall will be particularly meaningful. They end the program with an overnight Civil War Adventure Camp at Pamplin Historical Park and Museum of the Civil War Soldier and then a reenactment of Patrick Henry's Speech at St. John's Church, Richmond.

On the sixth (my birthday!) I pick up a group from Whittier that combined with a small group from Seattle for a Washington, DC, Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. On this one we're going to visit Gettysburg and Monticello along with the Williamsburg study visit and evening program, Jamestown, and Yorktown. There will also be a dinner with a patriot as well as Ford's Theatre.

However, I do get one day off! It's what is known as a busman's holiday: I shall be at Jamestown with my brother and stepmother/cousin for the festivities. My cousin (also stepmother) attended the last celebration in 1957 and her father was at the one in 1907! It's become a family tradition. Some of my family even were able to see the young Queen Elizabeth II, in 1957! (Alas! I have to work!)

The last group is from Rancho Palos Verdes and we'll be visiting Gettysburg, Lancaster Underground Railroad Experience, Baltimore (An Edgar Allen Poe character interpreter will 'surprise' the students at his gravesite!) Annapolis is also on the itinerary. In Washington, DC we'll be visiting the usual sites (including the Capitol) as well as the US State Department, Organization of American States, and laying a wreath at the Korean War Memorial.

Naturally with these schools the Christian content and context is a very important component. Please reference my posting: Educational Touring for God and Country.

So I have my work cut out for me.

But what makes this so delightful is that I will be seeing some wonderful teachers and Principals that represent enduring friendships.

I am blessed!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Daisies to Brighten my Day

It was a tough trip.

The weather was raw, rainy, and snowy until the last day.

Trying to deal with two buses on the same itinerary is something I have never advocated, but I was obliged to do so, juggling it as best as I could. Tour Bob was a great help.

Roads were slippery and sometimes flooded, which slowed our progress.

My driver was ill.

While the hospitality was wonderful at each place, there were some disappointments with step-on guides. (I don't normally engage step-on guides, but these were supposed to be specialists on the Underground Railroad and the Civil War in New York State.)

The kids were terrific, real troopers! I couldn't have imagined a better group to travel with. They were having fun and had even enjoyed a good old-fashioned snowball fight in front of the Baseball Home of Fame. ( It was a first for them as many had never seen snow before!)

Then we were all affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech. We didn't say much about it, but it became the elephant in the parlor.

It's not just that I had over 70 eighth-graders who are impressionable, half of them were either Korean or first generation Koreans who took it personally. And then the guide on the first bus (me) lived in Virginia with some connections to VT through friends and a few relatives who had been teachers. Visions of September 11th, 2001 filled my thoughts.

The Statue of Liberty was closed, making the line to get on the ferry to Ellis Island longer because of heightened security. We didn't go to the top of any buildings because of security concerns. CBS canceled our appearance since they thought the outside activities would be disrespectful. (We hadn't received word of this decision and the lot of us were waiting in the cold and drizzle for the CBS Fun Bus, which like Godot, never came.) Tour Bob and I had to scurry to find a place to feed 84 STAT! (Which we did!)

The bright spot on the last day was a walk and shopping opportunity along Fifth Avenue. For expediency, I suggested that everyone meet and eat at the underground concourse at Rockefeller Center. (Mendy's is my favorite place to get kosher sandwiches!) I was working on auto pilot and did not realize that the annual orchid show was there. Mrs. C-C had a severe allergic reaction to the orchids and had to seek medical help.

After getting her stabilized, Tour Bob, Mrs. C-C and I had lunch at Dean and Delucca right across from the NBC studios - well away from those poisonous orchids!

I then went down to retrieve the entire group and encountered what can only be described as a bee hive of activity surrounded by orchids. While it was a stunning sight, it was difficult to gather the kids. (Actually, it was the adults we were having trouble with!)

After getting the correct count, I was about to board the bus when one young lady, smiling, presented me with a bunch of daisies!

How did she know?

She chose a bunch of the happiest and most resilient flowers; they put the high maintenance orchids to shame and reflected the mood of the group.

I nearly cried!

They're on my table and are a reaffirmation of my career choice.

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, April 21, 2007

-New York City Tartan and Tartan Week

The New York City Tartan

I attended the very first annual observance of September 11th at Trinity Episcopal Church on Broadway and Wall Street. Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Mayer of London, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States were all in attendance. One piper was wearing an unusual tartan and after the most poignant rendition of Amazing Grace I have ever heard, I asked the piper about the tartan. He referred me to a website.

The following has been taken from that website:
The story of the new New York tartan goes back to 2000, the year of the Millennium. A parade of over 8,000 pipers and drummers took place along Princes Street in the August of that year to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer care. One of the pipe bands taking part was the McGregor Clan, of which family includes the well known Hollywood actor, Ewan McGregor who comes from Crieff in Perthshire, who is a keen bagpipe player. New kilts were required for some of the pipers and it was decided to commission a special tartan for the occasion. Lochcarron of Scotland, based at their mills in Galashiels was given the task of creating and making kilts and ties of a special tartan - the McLennium (sic) tartan to celebrate the new century and this record breaking parade of pipers in Edinburgh.

Charity Fund Raising
Following the success of the Princes Street Millennium Pipe and Drums parade, it was quickly decided to try to break the record again - in New York. The plans began in September 2000 to organise a major parade in the centre of Manhattan, this time with the aim to raise $1,000,000 for the two cancer charities, Marie Curie in Scotland and Gilda's Club Worldwide in America. Scottish Power agreed to be brand sponsors and the creation of the ScottishPower Tunes of Glory parade began in earnest.

Sarah Grotrian, the Director of Marie Curie in Edinburgh and her son, Thomas, director of Epic Concepts Ltd, the company producing the Tartan Day parade, were keen to commission a new tartan for this major Scottish event in America.

As described to me by Tara Gibson, the Public Relations director for Lochcarron, it was in July 2001 when Lochcarron of Scotland, following the creation of the McLennium tartan, was invited to take on the design and manufacture of a new tartan which would be given prominent focus on Tartan Day, 2002. Following the tragic events of September 11th, the significance of both the Tunes of Glory Pipe band parade and the new tartan took on a completely different and significant symbolic tribute. The tartan would now serve as an important symbol and gesture of friendship between the two nations, to be presented as a gift from the people of Scotland to the people of New York.

After grateful thanks were given to Thomas Grotrian and Magnus Orr of Epic Concepts, the producers of the ScottishPower Tunes of Glory parade, and the directors of the charities involved, it was the turn of the Rt. Hon, Eric Milligan, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh to take the stage. He spoke passionately and emotionally about the strong ancestral and cultural links between the people of Scotland and America. He described the feeling of friendship and solidarity that was felt for the American citizens following the events in September 2001 and of the vital importance to work together for a world of peace and prosperity.

The Lord Provost then presented the Mayor Bloomberg with the New York City tartan as a gift from the people of Scotland.

The colors and design of the New York tartan have a specific image and meaning and were specially selected. The light blue represents the Hudson river, the green symbolizes the lush green pastures of Central park, at the heart of Manhattan. The dark blue signifies the Marie Curie cancer care and red that of Gilda`s Club Worldwide. The two black lines, designed in a cross, offer a sign of condolence in memory of those who died on September in the Twin Towers tragedy.

This year Tartan Week ( actually a fortnight, two weeks) started March 31 and ends on April 14 with a grand parade down 6th Avenue. (This parade would pass Radio City Music Hall.) They have created a Scottish Village with different 'neighborhoods' reflecting food, culture, tourism, business etc. in Grand Central Terminal. There is also a 10km run in which thousands will compete.

And why am I so interested in this and not St. Patrick's Day? Most of my family on my father's side are originally from Scotland. Of course, I'm the one who is the native New Yorker and was profoundly affected by September 11th. (I lost at least 17 friends and business associates.).

What clan you might ask? Hmmm. Let's just say that McDonald's doesn't like to serve us!

To learn more about tartans and textiles please see this site.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Figure It Out Friday

What is the connection between these two?

The connection between these two stars is Ida and Isidor Straus - the elderly couple who perished together on the Titanic. They were a devoted couple and Mrs. Straus refused to get into the lifeboat without her husband and Mr, Straus refused to take up a space that could be used for a woman or child.

The flag represents the White Star Lines who owned the Titanic and the red star represents Macy's.

R.H. Macy had been a sailor who became a merchant, the red star was the tattoo he had on his arm.

The Straus family, one of the great Jewish families in America, bought the store from Mr. Macy and moved it to its present uptown location. Mr. Strauss was not only a well-respected businessman, but also one dedicated to public service and philanthropy. He also served briefly as a US Representative.

There is a plaque dedicated to them at the New York Macy's on 34th Street- just ask any employee where it is. There are also other tributes to the Straus family in New York . (There might be one in Georgia as well.)

Macy's isn't just the largest single department store in the world, it is now the largest retail chain.

It is also interesting to note that during the past century the red star was the symbol of Communism, whereas the Macy's red star represents Capitalism.

So the next time you visit your local mall or watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or even visit their flagship store in New York City, look up at the star and
remember Ida and Isidor Strauss: an eternal love story.

Mrs Straus almost entered Lifeboat 8, - then she turned back and rejoined her husband, she had made up her mind: "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." Colonel Gracie and other friends tried to persuade her, but she refused. Mr and Mrs Straus went and sat together on a pair of deck chairs (Encylcopedia Titanica)
Previous Tour Marm Titanic Posting
Photo of Straus Memorial Plaque

* The Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial is located at the intersection of Broadway and West End Avenue at W. 106th Street in Manhattan.
* New York City public school]] P.S. 198 in Manhattan]] is also named after the Straus'.
Straus Memorials and Cemetery PhotosFigure It Out Friday, Titanic Memorials,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ooooo! Look What I've Found! A New Site!

While I was hunting around to find the answer to elementaryhistoryteacher's Wordless Wednesday, I accidentally stumbled down a rabbit hole and found The Sheila Variations She has two blogs that I can see; one is a well-researched (very important to me), engaging, and personal view on our founding fathers and other aspects of history. The other is a hodgepodge of wonders; April is poetry month, need i say more?

She posts when the spirit and a significant date moves her. Her posts are accompanied by illustrations, poetry, and popular culture .

Naturally, I felt right at home with her Gibson Girl illustrations; I think I've found a Kindred Spirit!

I was particularly taken by the juxtaposition of Alexander Hamilton and Dean Martin; I'm not going to give you the explanation, you just have to be there! (Hmm, could I find a connection between Sinatra and Franklin?)

So follow the breadcrumbs I've left and say, "Hi!".

Thursday XIII:13 Uplifting Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Uplifting Thomas Jefferson Quotes

  1. When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.
  2. But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
  3. I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.
  4. I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
  5. There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.
  6. There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.
  7. It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.
  8. I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
  9. Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.
  10. When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
  11. We never repent of having eaten too little.
  12. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very fast.
  13. Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 9, 2007

Tour Marm vs. Brainy Media Blunder Re:Sir Winston Churchill

This is annoying:

Today in History

1981 U.S. submarine George Washington rams Japanese freighter Nisso Maru
1970 Paul McCartney announces official split of Beatles
1967 1st Boeing 737 rolls out
1963 Winston Churchill becomes 1st honorary U.S. citizen, posthumously
1912 Titanic leaves Queenstown, Ireland for New York
All Events on April 9

According to Brainy Media's events for April 9th that are posted on my sidebar as Today in History, Sir Winston Churchill became the first Honorary American citizen posthumously in 1963.

How is that possible when WSC died 24 January 1965?

Any reference to posthumous should have directed at President Kennedy, who had been assassinated after the Executive Proclamation, which meant that the honor, which was accepted on behalf of WSC by his grandson (and namesake), was accepted from President Johnson, rather than JFK. 1963 is the correct year of the Presidential Proclamation that made WSC a US citizen. (WSC was too ill to journey to the US.)

I tried to figure out a way to contact brainymedia to correct this - but there doesn't seem to be a way.

I'm just adding this to my litany of transgressions by internet sources of information.

US Capitol...Brainy Media...Who's next?
As WSC once said, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. "
29 October 1941 Harrow School

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Figure It Out Friday #9 Answer: The Contents of President Lincoln's Pockets

These were some of the contents of President Lincoln's pockets the night he was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. He died the next morning at 7:22 AM at the Peterson House across the street from Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC.

The newspaper was not part of the contents, but has replaced the several newspaper clippings that were in his pockets.

But the most controversial article was the Confederate five dollar note which probably was picked up by President Lincoln when he and his son visited the Confederate Capitol Building (Commonwealth Capitol of Virginia) in the recently fallen Richmond.

During my research I came upon a rock song entitled, The Contents of Lincoln's Pockets, by a group called Rainer Maria - named for the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. They disbanded this past December (2006). I thought the poetry was exceptional.

Contents of Lincoln's Pockets can be heard here through Rhapsody.

at the time of his assassination:
two pairs of spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocket knife,
a watch fob, a linen handkerchief,
a brown leather wallet containing five dollars
in confederate money and nine newspaper clippings
that there is walt whitman's pen
it sat in his hand and drank ink and whitman lay upstairs
and watched the trains, fascinated by the big engines
me, i'm just anxious.
lincoln struck at the back of the head as if by a velvet curtain
his body lists and folds, creased at the hip,
and rolls to the floor beside his seat
the light's gone out, but even now he's radiating heat
these relics rise like steam and each disseminates, encircling
like a halo down trajectory of a common crowd, simmering
slammed to the back of your head
you've never been hit before
how can you deal with that kind of information?
slammed to your chest
like a curtain hits the floor
how can you deal with that kind of information?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Thursday XIII:12 Tour of Jamestown Settlement Virginia - The Quiet Before the Crowds - Feb 2007

Wordless Wednesday #10 - Women's Titanic Memorial

This is one of the Titanic Memorials in the Washington, DC area. It looms above Washington Channel on the Potomac adjacent to Ft. McNair in Southwest DC.

The official name for this Memorial is The Women's Titanic Memorial. The Inscription is as follows:

To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the
Titanic, April 15, 1912.
They gave their lives that women
and children might be saved.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (the grandmother and guardian of little Gloria, the fashion designer) won the national commission which was open only to women. The granite memorial is an 18-foot Christ-like figure standing on a six foot pedestal, his arms outstretched representing sacrifice.

Indeed the majority of the 1500 lives that were lost as a result of the sinking of the Titanic, were men, including an estimated ten percent of those who were responsible for the wealth of the United States.

Gertrude Vanderbilt had a very personal connection to this memorial as she had lost many friends aboard the Titanic and three years later she would lose more friends including sadly, a brother, who were sailing aboard the Lusitania.

President and Mrs. Hoover attended the dedication on May 26, 1931, along with the members of the memorial association that spearheaded the fundraising, which included former First Lady Helen Herron Taft.

Each year the members of the Men's Titanic Society take part in a ceremony at the memorial; it was recorded in 2004 for NPR.

I have actually brought groups over to the memorial on the morning of the 15th of April and have seen the wreath and empty champagne bottles at the base of the memorial. Vision Forum also conducts their own observance to acknowledge the noble sacrifice of these men.

Of course, all my groups wonder whether James Cameron had this in mind for the now iconic vision of Jack Dawson as, King of the World, in his movie, Titanic.

The Titanic Memorial in Washington, DC is located at 4th and P Street, SW alongside Fort McNair at Water Front Park. One needs to walk past the Apartment Building to the water or walk along the channel to the end.

Another Tour Marm Titanic-related post concerning the Isidore and Ida Straus and Macy's
Interesting Websites concerning the Titanic:

Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain on the White House Ellipse in Washington, DC, not too far from the National Christmas Tree in President's Park. Here's a better history.

Other Interesting Titanic Memorials in New York
including a photo of the Straus Plaque
Phill Ottwell's Tribute to RMS Titanic and Titanic Memorial Page