Disposable Camera Tour
Death of Washington Bicentennial page #2|
Mount Vernon, VA
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The peaceful front of the Mount Vernon Mansion belies the bustle inside
on a steaming hot summer day. We hadn't been here since grammar school
and the compulsion to roll down the lawn on the humid grass toward the
river was hard to resist. Lear and his wives must have cherished their time visiting this plantation, as did Washington who was often away from home. Hundreds of African Americans were enslaved here to keep the president's personal fortune rolling in while he served his country in battle and public office. Lear was in charge of finances here for many years and was tutor to the Washington's step grandchildren.
A woman in funeral dress with flowers and a black parasol was assembling
visitors for a recreation of the Washington funeral procession. Tobias
Lear was in charge of these arrangements too. "Excuse us," we asked.
"How long will this guided tour take?" It would be about 90 minutes the
guide said. Be we had just under an hour before the tour bus departure.
Grabbing a map, we struck out to find Washington's tomb on our own.
It's impossible not be struck be the sheer beauty of this extensive
Virginia plantation and we're reminded that George Washington was, after
all, a farmer. In our travels we found the multimedia show "Washington
is No More" in the air conditioned greenhouse near the old slave
quarters. The 8-minute show was narrated by Tobias Lear, played by
veteran actor Al Troutman whose license plate reads 2BSLEAR. Minutes
later were back on the 100 degree farm with 30 minutes to go and
searching frantically for Washington's tomb.
You wouldn't believe how many buildings there are at Mount Vernon which
was 8,000 acres in Washington's day. We had to skip the "Pioneer
Farmer" exhibit, bypass the museum, the archeological display, the
working gardens, the slave memorial, the stable, the riverwalk, the boat
wharf, the 16-sided treading barn -- all to find the tomb. Where was
that tomb? Here we stumbled on this Powell Coach on South Lane that the
map said would take us to Tomb Road. The bus was leaving in 15 minutes,
and it was a long walk back to Seacoast, New Hampshire!
Photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
© 1999 SeacoastNH.com
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