By Eilene Lyon
The Slide Years is a series in which I select an image my dad took from 1957-1982 with Kodachrome slide film, then I write a stream-of-consciousness essay – a sort of mini-memoir.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that I became a history buff. In the heart of the slide years, my parents took full advantage of our proximity to American History locales. While we lived in Virginia (1965–1969) and Pennsylvania (1970–1973) we hit many prominent parks and landmarks.
Above, I am on the waterfront side of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate on the Potomac. Of course, we went to Williamsburg, the colonial capital city that’s a living history museum. I can remember chewing on strips of birch wood that we bought in one of the 17th-century-era shops, and tri-corn hats all the rage.
Pennsylvania provided trips to Gettysburg and Valley Forge where we learned about the Civil War and the Revolution. Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell. The home of Betsy Ross. A coal mine tour.
Living close to Lancaster, epicenter of Amish life, we experienced more living history on the hoof – horse-drawn buggies and hex signs on barns. And near there, we saw the historic trains at Strasburg.
Further northeast, we stopped at several sites in Boston, learning the tale of Paul Revere. We even ventured across the border, visiting a 19th-century-era attraction, Upper Canada Village in Ontario.
I don’t recall how I felt about our country’s past, when my life encompassed such a short time span. The concept of a hundred years when you are 8 is vastly different than when you are 58. But it does seem that the attractions held my attention well enough.
For maximum effect, though, I should revisit these places as an adult. So far, the only one I’ve seen in recent years is Williamsburg. We didn’t catch them at a good time for any living history demonstrations, unfortunately. Next month, I will spend a little time in Philadelphia. I think a visit to Independence Hall is bound to be on the agenda.