Saturday, December 06, 2008

Time off

Off work this week, so took advantage of the free time and went into town to visit the Public Market -- eight bags of produce and 2 dozen free range eggs for $20. Can't beat that. Felt so flush I spent another $10 on coffee beans afterwards. Heading home I pulled in to check out the Susan B. Anthony house, which I've been meaning to do for a while but never managed to do. I popped in, paid 5 bucks with my AAA card and got a 45 minute long one-on-one tour of the house. It's in the middle of renovation (all privately funded) so there's parts that still need work, but you can imagine how it will be when it's finished. (It reminded me of a This Old House episode I saw that featured the renovation of Frederick Douglass' house outside Washington DC.)

While it was a little awkward at first being the only one in my "tour group," it ended up kind of enhancing the experience -- made it easier to kind of imagine the past and almost put myself there. My guide was awfully indulgent with questions, too -- and I had quite a few. I know embarrassingly little about the history of the women's suffrage movement, or the cultural landscape of the mid-19th century, for that matter.

I've pretty much neglected American history since high school -- though I majored in history in college I focused more on medieval and renaissance European history and church history. Now I want to go back and look more closely at American history and it is always a pleasure to have a compelling person to give you an in. People who fought for social justice are obviously incredibly sympathetic, especially when the odds they faced were great. Miss Anthony definitely deserves more appreciation than she's gotten. An underused piece of pocket change really doesn't cut it.

I was really adrift for a while when I moved here from MA -- I was leaving the place my family had been since 1638 -- leaving behind all that history. But the more I learn about Rochester, the happier I am I landed here. Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, George Eastman, Frederick Law Olmstead-designed parks (just like Boston!), the Erie Canal -- it's a pretty cool place.