|Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr (1804), from a painting|
by J. Mund ca. 1904. Wikimedia Commons.
I am one of those people who didn't have high hopes for the outcome of the recent U.S. presidential election (no matter who won), and I am also thoroughly sickened by the way Americans have turned on one another with the arrogance, entitlement (as if one candidate or the other -- and their ardent supporters -- "owned" the votes of all decent people), snobbery, and elitism that has been (to some extent) hiding under the surface of public life for decades. It is not the fault of one candidate or the other that these things have come to the surface -- it is the fault of the American people (in general) who are so wrapped up in our own likes and dislikes, needs and wishes, that we can't see that other human beings feel and think differently, and are no less decent or respectable for having different values. Over many years, the American people -- of all political parties -- have thrown decency, neighborliness, and good citizenship out the window, and brought the political life of this country to this place. It reminds me a lot of the state of political life at the founding of the United States, where political enemies ended their disagreements in pistol duels!
Since I believe that individual Americans have influenced each other in putting political ideals and goals above the needs of others (especially those who hold different opinions), I believe that the way out of this mess needs to start with the individual American. This is not about ignoring reality and going back into our own personal "bubble", but it is about resisting the very real urge to "go with the flow" and bully others, under the name of "political discourse" or whatever the media are calling it. A lot of good things have been happening, which have successfully brought together people of different political opinions and social values!
|Bowman Mansion. |
Photo by Joanne Santner.
|My friend Christina and I, with some of the other volunteers.|
Photo: Lance Shoemaker.
|A view through the servants' hall, from the|
foyer, to the back stairs and kitchen.
Photo: Joanne Santner.
The Bowman Mansion has a main kitchen with a small porch off the back and a servants' bathroom, a swinging door on one side that opens into a tiny hall and into the dining room, and another swinging door that opens into the narrow servants' hall (just a passage-way, not a room, like in Downton Abbey). In the tiny hall between the kitchen and dining room, there is an oddly-shaped door (under the servants'/back staircase) that opens onto a narrow staircase going down into the basement. In the servants' hall there is a doorway into the housekeeper's room (which is about as big as the kitchen), and there is the back staircase, which is steep and narrow, and not at all like the ornamental one at the front of the house. The servants' hall has its own swinging door that closes it off from the large foyer, parlors, and dining room. At the back of the dining room, running along its width, is what was probably once the butler's pantry (now made into a bathroom and storage room), which has two swinging doors, one on either side of the dining room. You can always tell the servants' areas by the presence of swinging doors (without a doorknob), so that the staff could go through them with arms full of things. The exterior doors, of course, all have knobs and locks! The back staircase and servants' hall provided a bit of space where we could sit and rest our feet for a few minutes here and there, and listen to the crowd at tea.
|Ornamental front staircase. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.|
|Volunteers making tea sandwiches in the housekeeper's room,|
now a TV room for the homeowners.
Photo: Miranda Von Stockhausen.
|2017 Cat Rescue Tea place setting. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.|