The Golden Door

Statue of Liberty Hanukkah Menorah

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it—George Santayana

Ken Burns’ new documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust, premiered this week on PBS. This three-part, six-hour series will remain available for free streaming through mid-October. It tells the story of the plight of Europe’s Jews, from the rise of Hitler’s Nazism, through the end of World War II. As the show’s title implies, special emphasis is placed upon America’s reaction to the Holocaust. The inclusion of this Smithsonian menorah’s photo seemed so appropriate for this post, since Lady Liberty stood as symbolic guardian of America’s golden door. Through a mixture of apathy, ignorance, antisemitism and white supremacy, America made the Holocaust so much worse than it would otherwise have been and America seems on the verge of repeating those same mistakes again now. When Burns recount’s American reaction to the Holocaust, the historical parallels between then and now seem scarily similar and begs the question, are we headed there again, to Déjà Vu, all over again?

Droning On About the Queen

Dan and Britt’s RAV4 Drone Video (No Sound)

I took our RAV4 in for service today. It had begun whining again about wanting another oil change and had already narced on me to Toyota. Because of the distance to the dealership, I usually wait there for the work to be done. In the waiting room, Queen Elizabeth’s funeral was playing on the telly. I sort of watched it for a while, with all of its pomp, but I couldn’t really get into it, unlike the woman who sat down beside me. She was soon sniffling, quietly though. After a while, I had to get up, not so much because of her, but because my legs were starting to cramp. I headed outside and watched a semi unload a couple of cars for delivery. It was a more complicated process than I would have imagined, and these two cars were the easiest to get off the truck. Unloading the remaining eight would have really been a spectacle to watch, just like the queen’s funeral was. I get it. She was a nice old lady, but she wasn’t our queen. We fought two wars to make that so, the Revolutionary War and then the War of 1812. In Canada they still refer to the War of 1812 as the War of American Aggression, holding hard feelings about that war and after more than 200 years.

I was wearing my Malden t-shirt, home to Dave and Maren’s new house back in Massachusetts. When we last visited Malden earlier this year, we heard about some its history, as the most patriotic town in America. This story begins in Philadelphia, in May of 1776. John Adams had been there for eight long years. When he first arrived in Pennsylvania, he was bluntly told by many of the other delegates that his problem with Great Britain was a Massachusetts problem and not an American problem. He was not deterred and in May of 1776 he could see that independence was finally going to happen. His problem now was that he hadn’t been home to Massachusetts in eight years, and he was unsure if the people back home still wanted independence or not. He caucused with the rest of his delegation, Samuel Adams and John Hancock and they all decide to call for a referendum back home and poll the people there. Malden was the first town to respond and voted 100% for independence, making it the most patriotic.

Like Hansel and Gretel

The Gingerbread House

Saturday started off kind of rainy, but it cleared off enough in the afternoon for a walk. We drove to Forest Park and parked in the lower Muny lot. On the upper Muny lot a new to us festival was going on, The St. Louis World’s Fare. It was a pretty eclectic affair, with many of the regular booths that popup for these types of events, window replacement vendors, siding salesmen and the like. It was kind of a disappointment, except for the 1904 World’s Fair Society’s booth. This is an organization that is dedicated to commemorating the fair that occurred in Saint Louis. In many ways, it was the pinnacle of Saint Louis history. They had a large panoramic photo of the fairgrounds that had been taken from a radio tower at the fair. The fair only ran seven months and most of the buildings that were built for it were only temporary, but a few things survived to today, like the art museum. The Fare took less than an hour to take in and we still needed to get in some steps, so, we headed over to the History Museum.

There they had two new summer shows, Coloring STL and St. Louis Sound. The first one featured the outlines of numerous local landmarks and plenty of dry erase markers for coloring them in with. In addition to the many one-of-a-kind buildings, there was a section devoted to the different local architectural styles that have thrived around town and our house was represented. We live in a “Gingerbread”, so named for their resemblance to the holiday season’s candy-covered treats. This was an architectural style that thrived during the Depression. Our house was built in 1937. Houses in this style are frosted with rough cut stones, heavy timbers, pastel diamonds of stained glass and multiple colors of bricks. For thousands of St. Louisans who scrimped and saved through those uncertain years, buying their own little castle was a fairy tale come true. We didn’t have time to see the St. Louis Sound exhibit, the museum was closing.

Maps of Fancy

Thomas Jefferson’s 1787 Proposed Map of the United States

During the sweltering summer of 1787, while the delegates of the Philadelphia Convention sweated and debated the framework of our new government, they also passed the Northwest Ordinance. The Northwest Territories were the first major land acquisition for the then still young United States. At that time, Thomas Jefferson took a wack at subdividing this new territory and the pictured map shows his thoughts. Interestingly, he had Michigan in what is now Wisconsin. He named Michigan’s lower peninsula Cerronesus and its upper peninsula Sylvania. Here are all of the numbered territories: 

  1. Sylvania
  2. Michiganta
  3. Cerronesus
  4. Assenisipia
  5. Metropotamia
  6. Illinoia
  7. Saratoga
  8. Washington
  9. Polypotamia
  10. Pelisipia 
  11. to 14. Not Named

Ohio got named Washington and Indiana was named Saratoga. It seems that he lost interest with this map about the time he got to the south. This map was on display in the Museum of Westward Expansion, what we now call the Arch. Jefferson went on as president to purchase the Louisiana territory, on the western edge of this map, but this map shows that his interest in the western expansion of the United States began much earlier than that.