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Northeast U.S. National Park Unit Trip – Part 2

November 8, 2017

Northeast U.S. National Park Unit Trip – October 2017  Part 2

10/17 – We started our cold but sunny day by driving to the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor Center

Viewed the displays, watched the film and then did the Nauset Marsh Trail

The road to Coast Guard Beach was closed for resurfacing, so we proceeded to the Nauset Light

The Three Sisters Lighthouses were originally on the coast but were moved inland

More impressive than the lighthouses –

Marconi Beach – chilly but fun!

Highland Light, also called the Cape Cod Light

In 1864, Thoreau wrote an essay for Atlantic Monthly on the history of the Highland Light. In this excerpt, he describes the power of the Light:

“The keeper entertained us handsomely in his solitary little ocean house. He was a man of singular patience and intelligence, who, when our queries struck him, rang as clear as a bell in response. The light-house lamp a few feet distant shone full into my chamber, and made it bright as day, so I knew exactly how the Highland Light bore all that night, and I was in no danger of being wrecked… I thought as I lay there, half-awake and half-asleep, looking upward through the window at the lights above my head, how many sleepless eyes from far out on the ocean stream — mariners of all nations spinning their yarns through the various watches of the night — were directed toward my couch.”

Tours cost $5 (seniors) and last about 20 min, the spiral staircase takes you 69 steps to the top

This sign describes how, in 1996, the lighthouse was moved 450 feet back from its previous location because of cliff erosion

From the lighthouse, it was a short drive to Pilgrim Heights where we did the Pilgrim Springs Loop Trail

Helen found the Spring!

This site represents where the Pilgrims drank their first fresh water in New England

Unfortunately, the Province Lands Visitor Center near the end of the Cape was closed for the season. However, the observation deck was open for a nice view of the Cape.

Shipwrecks

Race Point Beach – building is the Old Harbor Life-Saving Museum

Treasurers from the Sea

Provincetown is located within the protection of “The Hook” of the Cape. In 1616, John Smith described Cape Cod as “made of the main sea on one side, and a great bay on the other in the form of a sickle.”

Provincetown Harbor is where 41 Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Pact before stepping ashore on 11/11/1620. So, they first landed in what is now Provincetown NOT in Plymouth! The Pilgrims decided to move to what they called New Plymouth (because they had left from Plymouth England) 35 days later. There is no evidence that they actually landed on Plymouth Rock! They probably landed on the beach. I guess today you would call that Fake News! In 1774, Plymouth townspeople decided to move the top half of the rock to the town’s square and leave the bottom half where it was. In 1880, the top half was brought back and “re-joined” to the bottom half and the date 1620 was inscribed on it. In 1920 the rock was temporarily removed so that the old wharves could be removed and the waterfront re-landscaped. When it was returned, it was placed at water level. Through the years, pieces of the rock where chipped off for souvenirs. Approximately two-thirds of the top half of the rock was removed. Nevertheless, Plymouth Rock remains a symbol both of the virtues and flaws of the first English people who colonized New England. In addition, the folks of Plymouth are glade most Americans believe that the Pilgrims first landed on Plymouth Rock!

The cornerstone of the Pilgrim Monument was laid in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt and President William H. Taft dedicated the tower in 1910.

View of the Pilgrim Monument, Public Library, and Provincetown waterfront from the city wharf

Part of the Fishing Fleet and pleasure boats

Nighttime view of the Public Library, once the Center Methodist Episcopal Church (1860)

We shared a wonderful Cioppino dinner (basically shellfish in a spicy tomato sauce over pasta) at the Lobster Pot that evening

 

10/18 – We arrived at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park MA at 9am when it opened. The Visitor Center is in an old (1854) bank building. We watched the film, toured the displays and learned about the “City that Lit the World” – with whale oil.

The U.S. Customs House is on the opposite corner

Our next stop was the incredible New Bedford Whaling Museum ($15 seniors). The atrium holds the skeletons of three adult whales and one baby whale. These whales died accidentally or by undetermined circumstances.  There is a 37-foot male humpback whale on the right, a 66-foot juvenile Blue whale in the center, and a 49-foot pregnant North Atlantic right whale on the left. The baby skeleton can be seen inside it’s mother.

There is currently a NAVSEA exhibit in the atrium that is titled Stewards of the Sea: Defending Freedom, Protecting the Environment.  It is an interactive exhibit on loan from the U.S. Navy. It is used by marine mammal scientists to capture sounds and other data to better understand whales and their habitat. You can look through a “fish eye” telescope and see what Navy watch looks for when they scan the ocean surface for whales, watch blue whale tagging in action off the coast of Patagonia, and see an enormous, but stealthy, automated underwater glider.

There is an entire room devoted to “knots.” Another room had the world’s largest collection of scrimshaw artifacts.

Seaman’s Chest

The theatre held figureheads, name boards (stern) and quarterboards (bow or quarter panel) and other sailing memorabilia

Ship models galore!

Including the largest model ship in the world – the Bark Lagoda, a half-size (89-feet long) replica that was built inside the building in 1916.

Wonderful paintings –

Impressive display of a 48-foot sperm whale next to a whaling boat. A “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” took place after a whale was harpooned and a boat like the one you see was dragged behind until the whale was fatigued and could be killed.

Seamen’s Bethel (1832) and Mariners Home

Inside the Seamen’s Bethel

The pulpit ship’s bow that Herman Melville described in Moby-Dick was built in 1959 well after the book was published.

Melville shipped out on the whaling ship Achusnet in 1841 and was an experienced seaman. He also described the marble centotaphs (memorials) to lost seamen in the bethel in his book Moby-Dick (1851). A quote from the book: “In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman’s Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday visit to the spot.”

We walked to the Waterfront NP Visitor Center (Wharfinger Building) by Fisherman’s Wharf and the statue to the departing seaman

Walked back to the main Visitor Center and had a bowl of Clam Chowder in the Freestones City Grill across the street. From there, it is a 0.68 mile walk to the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum ($5 seniors). I very much like the “Burn While You Learn!” map that follows.  I now use it in my presentations promoting physical activity in our National Parks.

Life and Legacy of William Rotch Jr

Exterior of mansion and gardens – rose bush sale on the upcoming weekend, they plant new bushes each year

Some of the mansion rooms –

It took about an hour to drive to Newport RI and the Touro Synagogue National Historic Site. Their NP web site stated that the last tour was at 3pm. We arrived just before 2pm and were told that the synagogue was closing. We were not only disappointed that we could not get the tour but also that they would not let us get a quick glimpse inside the synagogue. There were four people there, but unlike other national park units, they were not cooperative.

 

Another hours’ drive took us to Providence RI and the Roger Williams National Memorial. No, not the pianist Roger Williams, but the one that had a huge impact on the separation of church and state in America!

We asked to see the 15-minute film but the young park ranger stated that he could do a better job than the film and proceeded to give us a 20-minute history lesson related to Roger Williams and the Memorial. He was excellent! Interesting fact, it is not a historic site because there are no artifacts that remain from Roger Williams life. Also, according to the ranger, the separation of church and state was not motivated by a fear that religion would negatively affect government but rather that the corruption and pollicization of government would negatively affect religion!

The start of Providence

Roger Williams Spring

Religious Freedom

Native American monument in the park

The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor runs from the headwaters of the Blackstone River near Worcester MA to Providence and Pawtucket RI and Narragansett Bay. It is billed, like other sites in New England (e.g. Lowell MA, Patterson NJ) as the “Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.” The Blackstone National Historical Park (2014) includes many sites within this “corridor.” All the mills and related businesses started by using water power from the Blackstone River. We began our visit in Hopedale MA, the former home of the Draper Corporation. Hopedale itself was established in the 1840s as an Christian experiment in communal living. The Draper business started in 1841 in the Little Red Shop where Ebenezer Draper had a machine shop. He was joined by his brother George in 1853 and together they found numerous ways to mechanize the weaving process. During the 1880s, Draper companies sold more than six million high-speed spindles to textile companies. By the 1890s, the Drapers dominated the loom making business. For over one hundred years the Draper family maintained complete control over the town. During this massive development they worked hard to develop a Utopian community. At its peak, the Draper Corporation employed over 4,000 workers.

Alas, due to the decline of the American textile industry the Draper family divested themselves of most of their town properties in the 1960s and the Corporation was acquired by an outside owner. By 1978 the plant was closed. If you blow up this picture, you will see that the 500,000-sq. ft. building is for sale!

It was dark by the time we reached our Fairfield Inn in Milford MA

 

10/19 – we started the day by driving to Whitinsville MA, another mill town along a tributary (Mumford River) of the Blackstone River. Like Hopedale it was a company town controlled by one family, in this case the Whitins. After the Revolutionary War, Col. Paul Whitin came here to work in the iron forge. He married the owner’s (James Fletcher) daughter and formed an alliance establishing the Whitin-Fletcher Cotton Mill in 1815. In 1826, Whitin bought out Fletcher and named the firm Whitin and Sons (he had five). They developed the Whitin Machine Works that would become the world’s largest textile machine shop. This is a picture of the Old Brick Mill cotton and textile machine shop built in 1826.

The Whitin Machine Works was built in 1847 for making machinery for picking, carding, and spinning cotton and wool.

 

Slatersville RI was our next mill town. It is located on the Branch River, another tributary of the Blackstone River. The Center Mill or #1 Mill that you see in this picture was built in 1843. The Slatersville Mills began a new life as apartments in 2007.

 

Our next stop was the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center in Pawtucket RI. The Slater Mill, America’s first successful water-powered spinning mill, is across the street (seniors $10). The mill (1790) has displays showing the evolution from hand-crafted textiles to those made by machines.

We also checked out the old mill buildings along the river and at Pawtucket’s Central Falls

We liked the “Tin Man” atop a nearby building; the cigar had a light in the end!

Pawtucket Armory (1895) on Exchange St is now an Arts Center

Along with the Industrial Revolution came a transportation revolution. Horse drawn wagons were too slow and expensive. There was a need to move heavy cargo cheaply and efficiently between the mills on the river and the port of Providence. The river itself was impassible to large boats. The first solution was the construction of the Blackstone Canal in 1824-1828. The canal was faster than roads, but more importantly much cheaper. Each canal barge could haul 30-35 tons of cargo pulled by only two horses.

However, the coming of the Boston to Worcester Railroad line in 1835, followed by the Providence & Worcester in 1847 allowed the Industrial Revolution to figuratively “explode” through the Blackstone Valley and America. The railroad was fast, cheap and reliable. It provided for the transport of raw materials, finished goods and farm products between the villages of the Blackstone Valley and the ports of Providence and Boston. Rail service also made practical the conversion of the textile mills of the valley from waterpower to steam power by the 1860’s and 1870’s.

 

Arrived at the Weir Farm National Historic Site Visitor Center (Burlingham House) in southwest CT for the 3pm tour. It was a cool, crisp, beautiful day. The afternoon sun and Fall colors enhanced the beauty of the place. We had an educational tour, explored the farm, took an enjoyable hike and overall had a wonderful experience. The site includes the Visitor Center, Weir house, Weir Studio, Young Studio, two barns, tack house, ice house, other out buildings, stone walls, and three gardens. The tour begins with a 13-minute video in the Visitor Center titled “Legacy of Landscape.”

This is exactly what I need for my fine painting skills –

In 1882, noted American impressionist painter, J. Alden Weir (1852-1919) purchased this farm on Nob Hill in Branchville CT from art collector Erwin Davis for $10 and a painting. It was the start of over 40 years painting this landscape. The tour continued at what was the Weir summer home, built in 1780.

Front porch

This is currently the only National Park Unit dedicated to American painting. The Thomas Cole NHS in NY that we visited earlier in this trip is an affiliate site that is not run by the NPS. This site was designed and is preserved by artists. National Park ranger Joe Trapani starting the Weir house tour.

We have visited many amazing homes and mansions in our travels. If I had my choice, this is the one I would choose to live in. Of course, it would have to come with all the incredible contents! Here are two views of the living room. Note Weir’s painting of “Anna in the Livingroom.” Anna was his first wife.

Notice Weir’s second wife’s initials EBW (Ella Baker Weir), his first wife’s sister, in the leaded window. The year that the house was expanded to almost twice its original size, 1900, can also be seen.

The formal dining room – note the figurehead/antler chandelier!

Looking out the kitchen window toward Weir’s Studio

The Weir Studio (1885), Young’s Studio is to the left behind the tree

Alden Weir’s daughter Dorothy (1890-1947), also a painter, met Mahonri Young (sculptor and painter) in New York at a dinner given by art collector Duncan Phillips in 1921. They married in 1931 and moved to the Weir Farm in 1932. That same year, Young built his own studio on the property. He was known for his small bronzes of athletes and laborers.

Young was one of Brigham Young’s grandsons (he had many!) and in 1939 was commissioned to create a sculpture commemorating Utah’s early history. He created his largest work, titled “This is the Place.” Those were the words of Brigham Young when he entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847. It was dedicated on July 24, 1947 in Salt Lake City. Young also did a marble statue of Brigham Young that is in the Capitol in Washington DC.

Sperry Andrews a “conservator, anecdotal historian, and, most importantly, painter of the farm’s light, moods, intimate views and landscapes.” met Young in 1952. He knocked on Young’s door to meet the noted sculptor. Over the next five years they would forge a strong friendship. In 1957, when Young died, Sperry and his wife Doris bought the farm. Doris was also a painter and they worked together to preserve both the property and artistic legacy for future generations and artists.

The Andrews renovated and refurbished the home in 1958. Cora Weir Burlingham, Weir’s youngest daughter, lived next door. When the area was threatened by development in the 1970s, Doris and Cora banded together to bring about a community effort to preserve the farm. The Weir Farm Trust became the Weir Farm Art Center and in 1990 Congress designated 60 acres of the original farm the Weir Farm National Historic Site. It tells the stories of all three generations of artists.

Alden Weir placed this stone picnic table by the house over a hundred years ago. His three daughters would host tea parties at the table. Now, visitors can sit at that table and revel in their surroundings.

They can also walk about the grounds, gardens, pathways, trails, and fields. Weir had a portable studio he had moved about the property so that he could paint in comfort any time of the year. He called it his “Palace Car.”

Weir Farm preserves and protects an important part of the history of American landscape painting.

Weir painted natural landscapes; he also “created” landscapes that would then appear in his paintings. After winning a $2,500 prize for his painting The Truants in 1896, he used the money to purchase ten acres and constructed what today is called Weir Pond. A loop trail takes you across a meadow, through woods and around the pond. Additional walking/hiking is available in the Weir Preserve southwest of the farm.

Real and amateur artists and photographers are welcomed to the farm to utilize/discover their creative abilities. The park provides sketching and painting supplies. There are also artistic Junior Ranger activities for children. In addition, the Weir Farm Art Center sponsors an Artist-in-Residence program, whereby selected artists are provided month long accommodation in a Weir Farm residence with an adjacent studio. Over 200 individuals have participated in this program. In 2016, the National Park Bison Roam Weir Farm project was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Each bison is covered with a historic painting related to the Weir Farm. The bison was recently named the national mammal.

So, you might say that Weir Farm NHS is a gift from the National Park Service, a gift that keeps on giving!

One important note, the buildings are closed November through April.

Stayed the night at the Danbury CT Courtyard by Marriott

 

10/20 – arrived at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park NY at 8:30am. Helen waited at the Visitor Center so she would be first in line to reserve tours when it opened at 9am. Meanwhile, I walked to the Roosevelt home and continued past it hiking the Cove Trail toward the Hudson River and then returned on the Meadow Trail (about 0.75 mile).

We were on the first tour of the day to Springwood, FDR’s home. The original estate and home were purchased in 1867 by his father. FDR was born in the home on January 30, 1882, the only child of James and Sara (Delano) Roosevelt.

FDR married distant cousin Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905. Her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt gave her away. The couple resided in both Springwood and their New York townhouse. Their first child, Anna, was born in 1906. Over the next ten years five sons would be born, though one died in infancy. In 1915 FDR, under the direction of his mother Sara who lived with them and paid for the improvements, added 18 rooms to the house. This expansion accommodated the large family as well as providing for the entertainment of his political associates. FDR began the process of deeding his home to the National Park Service in 1943, two years before his death. After his death in 1945, the estate became the property of the Department of the Interior.

FDR’s birth room, master bedroom at the time

FDR’s childhood bedroom

FDR’s bedroom

Library and living room

FDR contracted polio in 1921 at the age of 39, he would never walk again unaided.  He refused to use a standard wheelchair, his were custom made to look like regular chairs

Music room, also known as the Dresden room because of the many pieces of porcelain

Many family pictures throughout home

A favorite spot, south side of house, overlooking the Hudson River Valley

Helen joined Roosevelts for a chat

Rose garden and grave site

Horse stable

FDR established America’s first Presidential Library and Museum here in 1941. It is the only one used by a sitting president. Here are a few FDR milestones:

1910 – New York State Senator

1913 – Secretary of the Navy. There are many ship paintings and models in the museum

1928 – Governor of New York

1932 – Elected 32nd President of the United States

1936, 1940, 1944 – Re-elected President, only President to be elected four times

1945 – Meets with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill (Yalta Conference) to negotiate postwar Europe

1945 – Dies in Warm Springs GA, Harry Truman becomes 33rd President of U.S.

When elected President in 1932, he initiated the “New Deal” – 15 new laws to relieve the Great Depression. The Social Security Act, National Labor Relations Board, Rural Electrification, March of Dimes, Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wage), Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) are only a few examples of his work for national progress and citizen protections under the law.

The CCC played a critical role in FDR’s strategy to conserve land and natural resources. It employed three million men over nine years, and raised public awareness of the outdoors and the importance of natural resource preservation. My uncle Vincent Martin worked for the CCC. FDR was a conservationist. He had planted over half a million trees on his property in Hyde Park and then through the CCC three billion more trees were planted across the country. When registering to vote, he described himself as a “tree farmer!” The CCC also built campgrounds, trails, wildlife habitats, roads, bridges, and dams. “FDR expanded the National Park Service mission in 1933 to include not only parks and monuments but also national cemeteries, national memorials, and national military parks. He also added the parks in Washington, D.C.”

His car, with all hand controls (he could not use his feet), provided some “freedom” from his daily routine

FDRs Oval Office Desk

 

It took about ten minutes to drive to Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site. Our hour tour began with a film on Eleanor’s life. Eleanor (1884-1962) championed social welfare and civil rights. In 1918, she discovered that FDR was having an affair with her social secretary Lucy Mercer. Despite this devastating news she continued to support FDR and his political ambitions. After FDR contracted polio in 1921 she helped him return to public life. She also joined the Women’s Trade Union League and met political veterans Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman that year. They would become her mentors and friends. At this point, she had lived in her mother in law’s home for almost two decades and desired her own space. Val-Kill Cottage, now called the Stone Cottage, was built two miles from the “big house.” It became both her retreat and a center for advocacy. It was also a place for family picnics, walking in the woods, swimming, tennis, riding, and socialization. At Val-Kill she emerged as a political leader.

In 1926, the Val-Kill Industries shop/factory was built behind the cottage. It was designed to assist local farmers and their families with income in the off-season by training them in various crafts including furniture making, weaving, and the making of pewter items. In 1936 Val-Kill Industries closed and Eleanor converted the building into a 20-room house with an apartment for her secretary (1929-1953) “Tommy” Thompson.

Eleanor had an amazing life. On one hand due to her fortune of birth but more importantly, on the other, due to her character and sincere care for others.

This is one of my favorite quotes

Other notable quotes:

“The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams.”

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes . . . In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

 

Some important dates and accomplishments:

1924-26 – Edits Women’s Democratic News

1934 – Joins National Urban League and NAACP

1936 – Begins career as a syndicated columnist including column titled “My Day”

1939 – Resigned from the DAR because they would not permit Marion Anderson, an African American opera singer, perform in Constitution Hall in Washington DC. She arranged for Ms. Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial!

1942-44 – Travels overseas to visit troops and hospitals during World War II

1946 – After FDR passes away, President Truman appoints her a delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations. She serves on the Committee for Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs. She stated, “. . .the only woman in the delegation, I was not very welcome.”

1947 – Chairs UN Human Rights Commission

1948 – UN General Assembly adopts Universal Declaration of Human Rights; this was her proudest achievement.

1949-59 – She is active in national and international affairs. She has a TV show that deals with social issues titled “Prospects of Mankind” until 1962.

1960 – Agrees to support John F. Kennedy for President but only if he commits to supporting social issues.

1961 – President Kennedy reappoints her as a delegate to the UN. She chairs President’s Commission on Status of Women.

1962 – Dies and is buried next to FDR in the rose garden at Hyde Park

 

This was her office at Val-Kill

After the Val-Kill tour, we drove back to the FDR Visitor Center and obtained the last two tickets for the ranger tour at the Top Cottage. We boarded a park mini-bus and arrived at the cottage at 1:10. The Top Cottage was built by FDR as a “. . . small place to go to escape the mob.” He helped design it emphasizing it’s need to be wheelchair friendly. It is located one mile from Val-Kill at the top of Dutchess Hill, one of the places FDR would play as a child. Ranger Kevin Oldenburg beginning tour in cottage –

The cottage became FDR’s retreat and the porch and grounds became a venue for informal socializing.

After ten minutes in the cottage, the ranger took us out to the porch where he proceeded to tell us stories of events that took place right where we were sitting. For example, the visit of the king and queen of England in 1939 on the eve of World War II. A picnic was prepared at which the royal couple was introduced to hot dogs as an example of typical American food. At the time, many in the press wrote with disapproval on this treatment of royalty! Administration officials and world leaders frequented this place. There were intentionally no records of many of these meetings. In 1944, here and in the big house, FDR and Winston Churchill discussed collaboration between the U.S. and Great Britain in the development of an atomic bomb, then called Tube Alloys, and later known as the Manhattan Project. A document was signed called the Hyde Park Aide Memoire, it stated that this project would be kept secret, especially from the Russians and included the possibility of using the bomb against the Japanese.

Afterward, we decided to hike, rather than ride the mini-bus back to the FDR Visitor Center. It was a one-mile hike down the hill to Val-Kill and then another two plus miles along the Hyde Park Trail to our car.

We had to rush to get to get to the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site for the 4pm tour, the last of the day.

The mansion was being renovated, as can be seen in this photo. Also, the furniture in the rooms had been moved and covered to protect it. Therefore, I did not take pictures inside of the mansion.

Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt (1794-1877) rose from poverty and became the richest man in the country through his investments in shipping and railroads. The “Commodore” had 13 children. He passed the bulk of his wealth down to his eldest son William Henry (1821-1885). William doubled the family fortune, but his eight children lived lives of excess and extravagance. “Every one of William Henry’s eight children eventually owned a mansion on Fifth Avenue as well as several “cottages” in the country or by the sea.” For example, Cornelius Vanderbilt II built the “Breakers” in Newport RI, and George Washington Vanderbilt, the youngest, built the “Biltmore” in NC.

Frederick William Vanderbilt (1856-1938) built this mansion in Hyde Park on the Hudson River. He was the only child to increase his inheritance (from 10 to 70 million dollars). He and his wife Louise moved into the mansion in 1898. They were unable to have children; Louise died in 1926. During the 1930s his niece, Mrs. Margaret Louise Van Alen, called Daisy by her family and friends, served as a nurse to her uncle Frederick. When he died in 1938, he passed on most of his estate, including the Hyde Park mansion, to Daisy.

Trivia – Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880-1925), was the son of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, Frederick’s brother. Reginald had two daughters, Cathleen (1904-1944) with his first wife Cathleen Nielson, and Gloria (1924 – ) with his second wife Gloria Morgan. Gloria Vanderbilt, now 93 years old, has had a very interesting life. She was a model and fashion designer. She licensed her name for various wearing apparel (e.g. jeans) and also started her own company. L’Oreal launched 8 fragrances under her name. She was married four times and had four sons. She had two sons by her fourth husband Wyatt Emory Cooper. The first was Carter Vanderbilt Cooper (1965-1988) who committed suicide when he was 23 by jumping from the family’s 14th floor apartment. The second son is Anderson Hays Cooper (1967 – ) currently a CNN news anchor.

In 1939, she told her neighbor FDR that she would like to keep the mansion as it was and make it a memorial to her Uncle Fred. In 1940, the mansion and 211 acres of the estate were designated the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. It is the only mansion from America’s “Gilded Age,” i.e. Civil War to 1900, in the National Park System.

After the tour, we walked through the formal gardens. We then stopped at this scenic overlook on the property.

From here I walked the Hyde Park Trail to Bard Rock on the Hudson River while Helen cross stitched in the car.

We arrived at a consignment store in Hyde Park at 6pm when they were closing. Unfortunately, the woman stayed open while Helen searched the store. That resulted in three carpets, pictures, and water goblets being transported back to Springfield. They were added to our luggage and the two large Japanese glass floats and the large brass propeller (purchased in Niantic CT) in the back of our Subaru.

We had dinner in a cool 1950s style diner in Hyde Park before heading to the Marriott Courtyard in Mahwah NJ. Waiter and waitresses were dressed formally with black bow ties.

 

10/21 – It was a 9.5-hour drive home, we arrived at 5pm

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