8/17/2009

Ford's Theater




We had a great day for our trip to Ford's Theater.

Its located on a quiet block of downtown Washington, DC where modern day high rise buildings tower over narrow historic row-houses and the reconstructed theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865.




After a brief wait in line we can enter the newly re-done museum in the basement of the theater where carefully planned exhibits tell the story of the period and of the plot and day that John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln.

We have several generations of exhibit readers in our group. I was happy to see the youngest, Scotty, so caught up in the story that he stopped to check everything out. And not surprised at all to see that our son Jim stills reads all the fine print. Its something he learned
by watching his father.















The curators have skillfully produced videos to complement the telling of this story.


This is the "Show Stopper" - - the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to shoot Abraham Lincoln.


I was particularly interested in the panels which showed profiles of the members of the conspiracy as this was a new inclusion in the exhibits and widened the story.
The first part of the "tour" is a self-guided
visit through the museum. After that comes the presentation in the theater itself where a Park Ranger tells the story of the building and of the event.
Ricca, our narrator, was a terrific storyteller and she brought the story to life and filled in with details that took you into the moment of the story.
"it was Good Friday, the box was not always decorated like this - they prepared it specially for Lincoln's attendance, John Wilkes Booth found out Lincoln would attend that night when he stopped by the theater to pick up his mail, the door to the box was unguarded, it was a 12 foot jump from the box to the stage, one shot to the head at close range, he never regained consciousness."





Three doctors carried President Lincoln's body across the street to Petersen House. He was shot at 10:22 PM. He died the next morning in the back bedroom on the first floor of this genteel boarding house. His family and members of his cabinet were at the bedside.







The shop is filled with all things Lincoln. I bought inexpensive and easily packable pencils as a souvenir for each of the kids. I wanted them to remember the day and more to remember me telling them that they descend from Tunis Hood, NC pioneer, and that "all the direct descendants of Tunis Hood are kinsman of Abraham Lincoln." (page 351, The Tunis Hood Family Book) You know you have to chose your teachable moments.


A nice day for standing in line. And, standing in line is time for talking.
For memories.
Ford's has been a working theater since 1968 and we have memories of family outings in the 1970s for GodSpell and Joseph and His Technicolor Dream Coat.
Robin was reminded that when she was in Junior High School she came to Ford's Theater with another family on her "first date."
"I also came to Ford's in the big yellow bus when we were studying Lincoln." she told the boys.
Next day it was fun to find our group talking about the trip to Ford's with the boys joining in adding what they remembered, what they read, things they saw.
We set the memory. We added ourselves to the story.