Seen the Glory
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller
300 N Commons St W, Tuscumbia, Alabama (opened 1954)
It would be difficult to refrain from crying while watching The Miracle Worker. Tears flow along with the water from the pump as Helen cried out, “Wah! Wah!” Helen Keller’s birth house, Ivy Green, is testimony to prevailing over seemingly impossible odds.
Raymond's Secret (1997)
Roe v. Roe (1973)
There's No Place
"I am constantly having to make an upheaval for some reason.” – Sarah Winchester
Winchester Mystery House (opened in 1923)
525 S. Winchester Blvd. San Jose, California
How the West was won - or lost - depending on one’s perspective was determined by who wielded the Winchester Repeating Rifle. The heiress to the company’s fortune, Sarah Winchester, had a life bookmarked by guilt and guns.
The Devil's Horn (1840)
Jingle, Jangle Morning (1965)
“One sits uncomfortably on a too comfortable cushion.”
In 1968, country singer Jeannie C. Riley sang of the hypocrisy of her hometown who pointed fingers at the widowed Mrs. Johnson although they were guilty of worse transgressions. Sixteen years before, a playwright had socked it to a more powerful body than the Harper Valley P. T. A.
You Can't Beat (1903)
The Devil's Horn (1840)
In the film, Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe, in the role of Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, revealed that blondes prefer gentlemen who wield saxophones; in the Clinton administration, the saxophone became the First Instrument; in The Simpsons, Lisa made the saxophone attractive to girls. These scenarios would not have been possible if not for Joseph-Antoine Adolphe Sax.
It Was, It Was
Chapter # 10: It Was, It Was
“I am happy that what was once so much pleasure for me turns out now to be a pleasure for other people.” – Alice Austen, speaking of her photography
The Alice Austen House (opened in 1985)
2 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, New York
Simon and Garfunkel, folksingers from Queens, crooned in Bookends, “I have a photograph. Preserve your memories. They’re all that’s left you.” Alice Austen proved the veracity of their words. As the Klondike Gold Rush began in Alaska, Alice mined black and white nuggets in New York. The Alice Austen House has a dual distinction: it is the only American museum dedicated to a female photographer; the first designated as a LGBT Historic Site.
In 1866, during a baptism at St. John’s Church in Staten Island, Alice Cornell Austen christened her baby Elizabeth Alice Munn. The child preferred her middle name and rejected her last one as her father, Edward Stopford Munn, had taken off during his wife’s pregnancy. Without means of support, Alice moved into her parent’s home that was also the residence of her brother, Peter, sister, Mary, “Minn” and her brother-in-law, Oswald Müller. Alice grew up in the aptly christened Clear Comfort in the Rosebank neighborhood of Staten Island. At the time, the borough was transforming to the Newport of New York as mansions and yacht clubs dotted its shoreline. The residence dated from the seventeenth century, and her seafaring grandfather, John Hagerty Austen, had purchased it in 1844. After extensive renovation, the Victorian Gothic style house with its gingerbread trim and dormer windows held elegant furnishings and interesting curios two servants kept dusted. The third domestic was their cook. The lawn held a huge sycamore tree, and flowers carpeted the yard. Clear Comfort afforded a panoramic view of New York Harbor, and the twenty-year-old Alice witnessed the unveiling and construction of the Statue of Liberty until the landmark achieved her final height of 151 feet.
As the only child in a household of adults, Alice was the axis upon which her family revolved. She used the expression “larky” to describe a life filled with affection, security, and love. Her most precious possession was a camera-that resembled a wood box- that Oswald, a Danish sea captain, had given her when she was ten years old. Peter, a chemistry professor at Rutgers, showed her the alchemy of developing pictures. The two men converted a second-floor closet into a darkroom for their niece. A maid assisted with the task of rinsing glass plate negatives in the outdoor pump as the nineteenth century structure had no running water. Enamored of her hobby that transformed everything into a frozen snow globe of memory, Alice made Clear Comfort, her relatives, Punch, her pug, and Chico, her Chihuahua, the objects of her photos. The siren call of the harbor was also an early muse, and time after time, she raised her lens to ships, first powered by sail, then by steam.
A woman who dressed in the latest fashion, Alice’s activities included the new sport of tennis, gardening, sai
“I am not certain if I can. At least I’ll gladly try.” Betsy Ross
The Betsy Ross House (opened 1937 )
239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Within the stripes of the American flag lies a treasure trove of history, mystery, and controversy. “Old Glory” appears in fifty states and on the moon; thousands have died fighting for or against it. The Marines raised the Stars and Stripes to commemorate the victory in the Pacific; the draft-dodgers burned it in protest of the military in Southeast Asia. As the Twin Towers crumbled, three New York City firefighters rigged a makeshift flagpole and hoisted the symbol of resilience. Millions visit the Betsy Ross Home to pay homage to the universal icon.
Stirring Salute (1970)
The Painted Bird
“I am as clear as the child unborn.”
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead (opened in 1909)
149 Pine Street, Danvers, Massachusetts
Witch-hunts are the thread that runs through the tapestry of history. The Romans fed the Christians to the lions; the Nazis consigned the Jews to the crematorium; the United States incarcerated the Japanese Americans. Three centuries ago, Salem targeted those the Puritans had decreed bore the mark of a witch. The importance of the Rebecca Nurse Homestead: it stands as sentry to the consequences of when hysteria and hatred triumph over humanity.
Of Them All
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace (opened 1956)
10 East Oglethorpe Avenue, Savannah, Georgia
“The only way we can kill for a moment our pain is by unselfishness.” Juliette Gordon Low
“The cookies are coming! The cookies are coming!” so sounds the annual cry that leads to Thin Mints, Tagalongs, or Caramel deLites. Girl Scout cookies satisfy a sweet tooth and supports a charitable cause. Troops around the world take “the midnight train to Georgia” to visit the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace to salute their founding mother.
The Devil's Brew
“I believe in being everlastingly on the warpath.” – Carry A. Nation
Carry A. Nation Home & Museum (opened in 1950)
209 Fowler Ave., Medicine Lodge, Kansas, the United States
The lyrics to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s folksong was the promise, “If I had a hammer/I’d hammer in the morning/I’d hammer in the evening…” Carry A. Nation’s choice of weapon, as instrument of social justice, was the hatchet.
Set the Night on Fire
Cemeteries do not rank high in the hierarchy of romance with the exception of Pere Lachaise in Paris where several immortal couples lie together for eternity: Abelard and Heloise, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Simone de Beauvais and John Paul Sartre. Another tomb with echoes to love is Pere Lachaise’s most visited grave- of rock royalty Jim Morrison. A photograph taken over it features a ghostly apparition, a white figure with arms outstretched- the prince of music bemoaning separation from his cosmic mate.