Ok, so it took me quite awhile to write this blog. I apologize in advance but things got a little crazy in my life. So here it is.
I really wish that I could remember the names of our 2 guides through Historic Philadelphia Inc because they were phenomenal. They cracked me up so much. They made it fun but not cheesy and I cannot thank them enough.
So on Tuesday the 16th of June, Gracie and I headed over for the tour at what I will now admit was a bit too early. What can I say, I’m a bit neurotic when it comes to being on time and it makes me nervous when you have to pick up tickets before going. Anyways, after about a 45 minute wait (sorry again Gracie) we lined up to begin our “time travel” to 1776. For as cheesy as that could have been, it really wasn’t. It was awesome. After you cross the street, which cars were still traveling on because of the “lag time” in our time travel you start to forget you’re in present day Philadelphia. You’re walking along cobblestone streets and if you’re a history buff like me, you just try to start thinking about what it was like then and just tried to soak everything in.
I was knocked out of my day dream by a local printer (whose name I can also not remember, sorry Historic Philly!) who was looking for, none other than my favorite President, Mr. Thomas Jefferson from Virginia. I was on complete alert looking for a tall and gangly red head as he told us about how his uncle’s print shop had won the bid to print the documents from the Continental Congress. He needed to meet up with Mr. Jefferson to print an important document.
Needless to say at this point, I was shaking. It was like living in a dream. I was ecstatic. I could not believe I was getting to experience my favorite time period in history! Well.. as close as I possibly could anyway! And then the children started screaming again. Yes. My tour had about 10 children under the age of 10 on it. Only one of whom had any manners. This particular time, one of the younger boys (I’m guessing about 8?) started waving his copy of the constitution around screaming ” I HAVE IT! I HAVE IT! THE CONSTITUTION!” perfectly in character the gentleman says he has never heard of such a document and tries to move on. The kid then screams, ” JUST KIDDING! IT’S A GUN!” and tries to fire mock shots at all of us. It is only after about 5 minutes of this that his grandpa asks him to be quiet and we get to move on.
We then went to the City Tavern for some dinner. It was delicious. We had colonial raspberry shrub with our dinner and I have to say it was yummy!
I enjoyed talking to the people we had dinner with and it was very entertaining to have a sing-a long, a cheer for the colonies, and were told to be on the look out for Thomas Jefferson.
Needless to say, I was on alert. I really do not think people understand how much I love 1) this time period and 2) Thomas Jefferson. People always like to point out to me how horrible of a person he was later in life and this really angers me. Yes he went a bit insane after his wife died but we would not be where we are today without his words.In the words of Robin Hood, from last night’s episode of Doctor Who, “History burdens us but stories can make us fly”. Besides, this Thomas Jefferson had not done any of those things yet. <end of rant>
Well, I was about half way through my Turkey pot pie and Gracie’s steamed veggies when a gangly red head just walks casually down the steps of the Tavern. And I knew. I grabbed my little sisters arm, dropped my fork and whispered “It’s him”. To which she told me “Ow, that hurt” and ” Obviously”. It was so fantastic I just cannot get over how perfect everyone played their roles.
Well, Mr. Thomas Jefferson from Virginia was also looking for the printer. He told us to tell him that he would be at the State House and to meet him there. At this point, I was nearly beside myself in excitement. The State House! Now called Independence Hall with Thomas Jefferson. Oh my Gosh. Well, we just had to wait for some people to go to the restroom before we were led to the State House. I, trying to contain my excitement, attempted to capture Gracie on camera which resulted in this unflattering pic of me and the top of her head:
So we headed along. Now, in case you have not caught on yet, I have wanted to see Independence Hall for a very long time. It is very high up on my bucket list and I have been dreaming about it since I first saw 1776. So, to be in the building with a small group of people (and some pretty annoying children) was amazing because that meant I could see more, take good quality pictures, and have time to just be. Small problem- the walk over there.
It started out so nice and wonderful. We were learning things about the area and heading towards the State House when the little 3 or 4 year old girls decided they’d walk on ahead. Now, since were not (sadly) really in 1776, this meant there were automobiles still running and they could get hurt. It only took the gentleman 4 times to politely suggest to the girls that they may enjoy the tour more if they could hear him before their parents actually stepped in and held their hands.
We finally arrived at the state house and were shown around by the caretaker of the building. It was amazing. I felt like I was barely holding it together to be honest. I was snapping pictures of the now empty chairs and tables when I heard 2 voices debating.
My heart jumped and I could not have been more excited. We all went and “hid in the shadows” to listen in on Thomas Jefferson AND John Adams discuss points on the deceleration. I could not believe it. Some people may not understand it but this was my dream. This time period means to much to me and the fact that this tour is even available to people means more to me than you could imagine. As I was standing there, trying not to cry from the sheer happiness of it all (as seen here)
It hits me all at once where I am. That I am standing in the same place where these great men risked their lives to create our country and I just casually leaned back and touched the wall. Like a creeper. I wanted to hug the building that meant so much to me. Just because it couldn’t have been any better already, Thomas Jefferson then does a reading from the Deceleration of Independence.
And I lost it. I had tears on my cheeks and clapped loader than anyone else. While this may have caused a few stares, I was at least not alone as my sister even admitted that she thought it was amazing as well. After this, the tour ended and Gracie and I headed back to the hotel so incredibly thankful for all we were able to experience.
Before I end I just wanted to write a few quick things on the off chance Historic Philadelphia reads this. The tour guides told us they use reviews and things to help them with grants for the foundation so they can continue programs like this.
So, Historic Philadelphia, thank you so very much for making this History major’s dreams come true. I cannot thank you enough for how wonderfully thorough you all are in putting this together. I felt like I was walking through time into 1776 and got to see and experience a little piece of the time period I love so much and I really cannot express to you how much that meant to me.
My one request is that you consider putting an age limit on it for kids? Maybe have another more “family friendly” tour and one for adults and children who have had some Colonial History in their curriculum? Maybe 12 and older? I’m not sure but I do have to say the constant interruptions and lack of understanding by the kids in my group, a majority of whom were not even in school yet, definitely took away from the experience at times.
However, dear readers, if you are ever in Philadelphia I HIGHLY suggest taking the time (and money) to go on this tour. You won’t regret it.