The Slide Years: Brushes with History

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.

Sid Halse with Eilene and Steve
My uncle in the stockade at Williamsburg. Where’s a rotten tomato when you need one?

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.

My beautiful picture
Standing next to a locomotive in Strasburg, PA.

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.

Sylvia with Phil, Eilene and Steve
Cherry blossom time in Washington, D.C.

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.

Sylvia Halse and Hudson??
Mom and friend at Ft. Washington, VA.

38 thoughts on “The Slide Years: Brushes with History

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      1. We never knew we had ancestors there, so it was a huge shock to discover that my 6th-great-grandmother is buried just a few miles from where we used to live! Wish we’d known that at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I have some pictures from Strasbourg but couldn’t remember the name of the town and the pictures weren’t tagged. Thanks!
    I like this concept! It’s fun reading and seeing the pictures. I think I’ll steal your idea to help write some of the stories my daughter is looking for. I look forward to reading more memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Does everyone in America have the picture in the stock at Williamsburg? Of course, when I took the pic of my family in there, I did Facebook caption it…why don’t they sell this in the gift shop….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such cute photos, Eilene! I agree on that time perception as children; I used to think that it was amazing that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived through so many technological changes, two WWs and the beginning of the space era, but hey, now we middle aged people have seen humans on the moon, supersonic travel and the rise of home computers and social media, amongst other things so, yeah, completely different perspective.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve never been to Mt. Vernon or Williamsburg or Gettysburg which is strange because my parents were all about history. But local history I guess. Someday I’ll get to those places as an adult, but I won’t be doing the stockade photo. Promise.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. On our last visit to Virginia, we really enjoyed the Smithsonian, Ford’s Theater, Monticello, Montpelier, and Williamsburg. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve spent any time in Pennsylvania.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I always get a lift from seeing another installment of The Slide Years come across my email. I was very proud of myself that I knew right where you were standing in the first picture. I lived in southeastern Virginia as an adult. The Colonial Parkway and Jamestown Island were favorite places to return to again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad to see you back! I remember family trips to the old Forts and Villages when I was a child. Those trips stuck with me, although you are right perspective then was way different than now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a family, we stayed close to home on the rare occasion that Dad took us out for an excursion. So the only history I was exposed to was the local Pioneer Village – and those are memories that have stuck with me, so I know it made an impression on me – possibly because it was a novel event, but I think the historical component made an impact, too.

    A couple of years ago, I revisited the site – I could barely summon a memory of the place to compare, it had changed so much. But you are correct, I brought with me five decades of living and learning along which enriched the experience for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sweet! I’m hoping my trip east next month doesn’t have to be postponed. It will depend on whether the libraries and archives are open for researchers. Maybe I can meet a couple bloggers as well as cousins along the way.

      Liked by 1 person

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