Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Reagan Library- Giddy with Historical Excitement!

Quote By George Washington
Me: "James Madison!... James Monroe!... John Quincy Adams!..."
My Sister:  (In a bored tone)"I forgot you like to play this game."
Me: "Bahahahahahahaha Andrew Jackson!"

That's what it sounded like inside our car as we drove up the road to the Reagan Presidential Library, passing each lamppost with a picture of each president. I love practicing my game of, "Can I list all the presidents in order?" Even the drive to the parking lot gets me positively giddy with historical excitement. (But, as we've previously established, I'm a bit of a nerd.)
One of My Favorite Ronald Reagan Quotes - At the Reagan Library

The Reagan Library is a high ranking destination on the J.HistoryGirl list of favorite places. The library is a hot spot of interactive presidential and historical exhibits. Visitors can have a Kodak moment while giving the inaugural address, record early Reagan broadcasts, tour the Oval Office and walk through Air Force One. On permanent display are a wide variety of Reagan artifacts ranging from belt buckles, to an x-ray from the assassination attempt to a section of the Berlin Wall.

George Washington Taking the Oath of Office

My sister and I were there last weekend to check out the special exhibit the library is currently featuring on George Washington. On display are three new statues of Washington that were created with painstaking efforts to properly reflect the real George Washington, not just the image we are accustomed to seeing in portraits. Existing sculptures, technology and Washington's life mask were all used to create a more modern, realistic image of the first president. Also on view are a pair of Washington's dentures, artifacts from his days as a surveyor and representations of Martha Washington's clothing.  The collection will remain on display until May 18th. I highly recommend checking it out!

When my sister and I were done looking around, we got ourselves a drink and some jelly beans (a Reagan favorite) at the Reagan Country Cafe and sat outside admiring the peaceful scenic view. Even on a smoggy day like last Saturday the hills are still pretty.
Sitting Outside at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

JHistoryGirl Posing With General George Washington

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"A Kind of Death..."

Saalfeld Perfume Vials

"' The one thing I'll remember about Titanic artifacts till the day I die is when the Saalfeld perfume vials came up. When you recover stuff from the Titanic, it's wet, it's rusty and it's rotten. And the smell that comes off it, is perfectly alien, perfectly fetid. You know its a kind of death you have never experienced. And so the lab is kind of unpleasant. And then all of a sudden somebody opens up this satchel, this leather satchel and out comes the fragrance of heaven. It's all these flowers and fruity flavors and it's delicious. It's the most wonderful thing you've ever had. Umm..  It was just a complete overwhelming experience. It was like all of a sudden the fragrance of heaven kinda moves though the room. So instead of being surrounded by all of these dead things- for those few minutes the ship was alive again.'" - Bill Sauder Historian, Director of Research, RMS Titanic, Inc.
Titanic's Grand Staircase

I was so taken by Sauder's words that I had to post them. As I listened to him tell this story, I was immediately struck by his emotion and connection to the historical objects he is charged with keeping safe. Although I haven't yet developed that same deep connection with any one piece or period in history, I completely understood the emotion behind his words. I imagine that not everyone would be so moved or taken with the temporary life that overwhelmed the smell of death that usually encompassed the room. But, as a lover of history I can appreciate the feeling of being apart of something from long ago, feeling as if you're apart of it in real time; especially in a case as this, with such a tragedy and then experiencing the other side of that horror. 

Bill Sauder's quote was taken from "Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron," which aired on the National Geographic Channel
The only surviving deck chair from the ship