Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lindenwald was great! I'd been there before, years ago. This tour was better. First, at that earlier time, some renovations were taking place. The servants' quarters were being worked on; in fact, I think they were in the process of being added to the tour after not being a part of it. It must have been the transition all social history went though in the past 30 years: inclusion of the poor and working class.

Then, the tour guide this time was outstanding. I'm not saying the one from last time wasn't good, but let's just say he or she wasn't memorable. The man today was extremely knowledgeable. Also laid back, didn't go through that long list of instructions about what can and cannot be done in the house. And for the most part it was a well-behaved group; no-one violated any of the usual rules, at least not that I noticed. One woman was texting which was rude but if she didn't want to pay attention, that was her loss.

Finally, the house was purchased by the Parks Service in the '70s after falling out of the family's hands when Van Buren's son owned it, so much of the furnishings were no longer on premises. They have acquired more original artifacts that belonged to Van Buren than they had when I visited before. They've also done a lot of research on how things were when he lived at the house, and reproduced that look.

I was surprised by how many people were on the tour: nine. There seemed to be about that many in the group that followed us too. I was pleased to see that the site is busy. Many of the roped-off spaces can't handle any more than that.

It was my mother's and sister's first visit, and they enjoyed it. Another visitor asked whether it is worth it to visit FDR's place in Hyde Park. The tour guide said yes, definitely. (I agree, and actually I was wearing a Fala tee-shirt today that I bought last time I was there.) He added that they consider the Van Buren site to be the "poor cousin" of FDR's house. Funny, and I suppose true. Personally, I think I like it just as much, even if the site isn't as "rich." I highly recommend it, in fact. The 19th Century is fascinating, and isn't as crowded. The sea of faces can wait until August 30 thank you very much!

Afterwards we visited Ocean State Job Lot. A worthwhile place. I like that they moved into the vacant Grand Union, rather than wasting resources, ruining a field and building a new box. I don't like to shop (understatement, add --at all--), and aside from the supermarket, farm stand and (of course) Stewarts' routinely, and the garden center, liquor store and beverage distributor occasionally, I get by (almost) exclusively with three online vendors (Vitamin Shoppe, LL Bean, Amazon) and three brick & mortar (Ocean State, Tractor Supply, True Value). I don't "do" malls, Target, Walmart, Burlington Coat Factory, Petsmart, Home Depot, etc.

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