Wrapping Up the Great Adventure

Posted June 21, 2010 by cudave93
Categories: Uncategorized

What else can you say? Two weeks, the Big Apple, some great learning experiences with talented and professional colleagues, the expertise of our own professors as well as the presenters we were blessed with throughout our time in New York…wow!  I can honestly say that I will not forget this trip any time soon.  My only regret is, that having been on this excellent adventure, I missed the previous trips to Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

A couple of things stick out in my mind about New York City.  First, the sheer size of the city and the number of people who live there in relative harmony amazes me.  I am a fairly well-traveled person, having been the son of a career military man and having traveled extensively since then.  I have never seen the diversity of people that I saw in New York.  Couple that with the fact that whether I was walking in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Harlem, or the Bronx (and at different hours of the day and night), I did not witness any undue hostility or feel unsafe in any way.  Most of the people I encountered close-up were very friendly and welcoming—not at all the bum rap that New Yorkers get.  The statistics that both Ed O’Donnell and Ken Jackson gave attested to the fact that, statistically, New York may be the safest big city in the country.

A second notion that stuck with me is the way that New York has constantly erased and re-written itself through the years, or as Ed O’Donnell put it, “New Yorkers always look to the future.”  We saw this in the demographic changes in the various neighborhoods since the nineteenth century.  At various points, Irish, Italians, Jews, Germans, and Asians have dominated areas like the Lower East Side.  We saw a once white neighborhood in Harlem become largely black, and now see the numbers of blacks in Harlem dipping below 50% for the first time in decades.  We saw places like the Meat-Packing District, parts of the Lower East Side, Harlem, etc. which at one time were the least desirable parts of the city, and now, through urban renewal, reduction in crime rates, and gentrification have become “trendy” for more well-to-do people to move to.  We saw the valuable real estate, especially in lower Manhattan, that is constantly being either re-furbished or re-built from the ground up.  From the ruins and the ashes of the World Trade Center arises a new World Trade Center, to be completed in the coming decade (maybe…if politics, cost overruns, etc. are controlled).  Of course, the downside to this, as Ed alluded to, is that historic sites of the past often get overlooked in New York as the city moves forward (the original Federal Hall, the Native American Museum, which is where the Customs House was, which is where the old Dutch fort was, etc.) and much of New York’s rich colonial history is buried.  Luckily, one such place, the African Burial Ground, was re-discovered.  All of this makes one wonder what this city will look like a century hence.

Upstate New York also held its charms for me.  It was amazing after experiencing the hustle and bustle of the city to see the quiet laid-back environs of “the other New York.”  The lush green hills and meadows, the ever-present rivers and streams, and the beautiful vistas were a welcome sight after a week and a half.  Cooperstown was like stepping back into a dream of long ago, when small-town America was the norm, with its wide tree-lined city streets, well-cared for homes, and small shops on main street.  There were the flags and memorials in the parks to honor veterans and ballparks for families to enjoy.  I think I could spend days in that area just exploring the countryside.  In Oneonta one night, we had a waitress look at us with confusion across her face when she heard we were from Colorado and ended up in Oneonta, NY.  I almost felt at home with this backcountry attitude as I have asked people from elsewhere who show up in Salida the same question.

Almost everything we did will somehow impact my teaching, but a few really stick out.  While I have always taught about the Northern involvement with slavery, the African Burial Ground and the presentation at the New York Historical Society has convinced me that I need to place a lot more emphasis on this facet of American slavery.  I now have a lot more evidence and material that I can use in class thanks to the great binders that gave us hernias as we packed them in our bags.  The Tenement Museum has similarly shown me that I did not fully understand the prevalence of factory work in the homes as much as I should have.  I need to study this more and address it more in class as well.  I am happy that I got to see these places firsthand.  It is too bad that our students can’t experience them this way.  At least these days technology can help create a virtual environment for students to look at and explore.  The “forgotten Ellis Island” as embodied in the hospital wards will also give me another way to approach immigration experience of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The Baseball Hall of Fame has given me the motivation to attempt a videoconference this year, something that we have the technology for at East.

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  Thanks to all of my fellow travelers for helping to make the trip so enjoyable.  Here’s to continuing to make learning a fun life journey!

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Day 14: Ticonderoga and Saratoga

Posted June 16, 2010 by cudave93
Categories: Uncategorized

Our last day of activities had us traveling far and wide focusing on the period surrounding the American Revolution.   I had looked forward to the stops today since we first got information about the trip back in November, as Fort Ticonderoga and Saratoga were on the agenda.  After another early morning wakeup call, we boarded our bus and took off for Ticonderoga.  The bus trip was about three hours long, but the scenery was incredible.  The thick forests and hilly country (sorry Easterners, I still can’t bring myself to say mountainous) made me ponder what this land would have looked like to its early Native American inhabitants and to the Europeans who must have gasped at the vast seemingly never-ending forests and vistas defined by the greenery.  It is small wonder that European powers contested this area in centuries past.

Our guide James, who we picked up at Salty’s Pub, pointed out sights along the way; unfortunately, no matter how well-meaning he was, it didn’t do much for me as he would talk about some hill you ought to be able to see on your right (through a forest), or some statue coming up a couple of miles down the road on the left (too far ahead to worry about), etc.  I was finally able to see Mount Defiance, the thickly-wooded high elevation overlooking Lake Champlain and the Ticonderoga area that British General John Burgoyne ordered artillery emplaced on to threaten the viability of the American position there in 1777.  It was previously thought impossible to do, but bring the guns up the British did.  The site that the guns were set up on is visible from the surrounding area.

Ticonderoga was originally built by the French, possessors of Canada, who began building forts down into this area in the mid eighteenth century.  The fort, originally called Fort Carillon, was built at its site to stop any enemy from advancing up the Lake Champlain-Lake George corridor. Its guns commanded the high ground overlooking the portage between the two water highways to the interior.  During the French and Indian War (Seven Years War) from 1754-1763, the fort was the site of a battle between French forces under the Marquis de Montcalm and British forces under General Abercromby.  The French, outnumbered nearly five-to-one and believing they going down to defeat, engaged the superior British troops outside of the fort in fortified positions.  Amazingly, the French defeated the British forces, and created an unrealistic image of Ticonderoga as being invincible, which would attract Americans to the fort nearly twenty years later.  In 1775, Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys captured the fort in the middle of the night without firing a shot.  Henry Knox then transported the cannon to Boston and used them to drive the British army out of the city.  In 1777, British General Burgoyne captured the fort on his ill-fated drive toward Albany.

Lake Champlain-Lake George-Ticonderoga

1758 Battle Map

The Marquis de Montcalm

We toured the site of the original French lines.  Remarkably, though overgrown, the French fortifications are in excellent condition, and one can see where the lines were and where the heavy gun emplacements were.

Montcalm's Position

French Defensive Positions Today

After lunch at the fort store, we toured Ticonderoga. The views it commanded were spectacular.  The difficulty of slipping a naval force past its guns was evident, as was its vulnerability to a land attack or the guns from Mount Defiance.  The museum pieces included paintings, maps, and an arsenal of weapons from the period.   Here was also the site of the famous painting of Ethan Allen capturing the fort in 1775.

Ticonderoga: "The Place Between the Waters"

Lake Champlain from the Parapets of Ticonderoga

Main Buildings and Gate

Ethan Allen Captures Ticonderoga

Doorway where Allen Stood

We then boarded the bus for a trip following in the footsteps of Burgoyne as he advanced on Albany in 1777.  British strategy called for isolating New England from the rest of the colonies and employing a divide-and-conquer approach.  To accomplish this, General Burgoyne marched out of Canada down the Lake Champlain-Lake George corridor on a drive to capture Albany and secure control of the Hudson River to New York.  His advance as repeatedly slowed by Americans exercising a strategic withdrawal.  Also, despite promises of reinforcements from New York, Burgoyne’s superiors never sent the troops he was expecting.  One of the places Americans retreated from was Ticonderoga, because it really had no purpose anymore from an American perspective.  To prevent the British from crossing the Mohawk River, Americans under stood their ground at Saratoga and eventually defeated the British in the turning point of the war.

General Burgoyne

On our tour, we saw a great lighted display which showed troop movements and the order of battle.  While it was on, I got a better idea of the topography and troop movements involved.  Unfortunately, time was not on our side, and we had to leave before we got to see the whole presentation.  We got back on the bus for what James called “the cook’s tour” which was a 3-4 hour presentation boiled down to about an hour.  The highlights we did see were the Morgan Monument, an honor to Daniel Morgan whose riflemen played a huge part in the victory; Bemis Heights, which was the main American position; the Barber wheatfield, where American forces routed British troops and turned the tide of the battle, due in no small part to Morgan’s riflemen and the targeting of British general Fraser; and, the Breyman Redoubt, a British stronghold swarmed by General Larned and inspired by General Benedict Arnold.  We also saw the approximate spot where Arnold was shot in the leg.

Daniel Morgan

Morgan Monument

Bemis Heights: the Main American Line

Barber Wheatfield: Turning Point

Breyman Redoubt Stormed by Larned and Arnold

Today gave me a fresh perspective on teaching these topics.  I need to really emphasize the importance of the Revolutionary War in this theater.  I always teach Saratoga, but more from the vantage point of the long-term consequences of the victory, including the international repercussions which resulted in Americans receiving foreign aid.  I don’t have much time to focus on the actual fighting, but I may make more use of it from a geographical perspective (at least more so than I do now).

We stopped in Half Moon at Salty’s Pub for a satisfying dinner, and then headed to Albany, where we are spending our last night in New York.

Day 13: Seneca Falls, Auburn, Erie Canal

Posted June 15, 2010 by cudave93
Categories: Uncategorized

It was an early morning for our group today as we had to make a two and half hour drive from Oneonta to Seneca Falls.  The drive was scenic, at least as much as I was awake for.  The late nights and early mornings are starting to catch up to me.

Seneca Falls was the scene of the first women’s rights convention in 1848.  We saw three sites in Seneca Falls, the Wesleyan Chapel (now undergoing reconstruction, and therefore unavailable) where the convention actually met near the visitor’s center; the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the home of Mary Ann M’Clintock, one of the organizers. Meagan, our tour guide, gave us an overview at each of the sites we visited.  The Declaration of Sentiments echoed the words of the Declaration of Independence except in proclaiming that “all men and women are created equal” and filing grievances not against the British government, but against men who these women stated held women in a virtual state of bondage.  The document itself was drafted in the M’Clintock home.  In reality, other than seeing the actual site where these people lived, there was not a lot to see at the two homes.  The visitor’s center was better, in that there were displays that showed the long-range consequences of what was done here in 1848.  The displays show the changes in women’s roles over time and the efforts to achieve equality, both in the nineteenth century as well as the modern women’s rights movements.  Some of the displays were thought-provoking in that they subtly posed questions as to what progress has been made and whether or not there is equality today.  This will help me show the evolution of the women’s rights movement.  There were also displays that inferred (as did the video that was shown on the bus on the way up) the split in the movement between moderate and radical elements, going way back to the beginning of the struggle for women’s rights.  That split still exists today, and I think that this can be useful to discuss with students.

Seneca Falls, 1848: First Women's Rights Convention

An Alternate Phrase

Cartoon I Will Use in Class

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Home

M'Clintock Home: Declaration of Sentiments Written Here

Ray: Once a Legionnaire, Always a Legionnaire

It was then off to Auburn, home of William Seward and Harriet Tubman.  Seward was a lawyer, New York senator, United States Senator, frontrunner for the 1860 Republican nomination for president (which he lost to Lincoln), and Secretary of State in the Lincoln and Johnson Administrations.  This home had much more to see than the previous ones, with mementos galore from the life and work of Seward and his sons, and it was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  The home was actually owned originally by Seward’s father-in-law, and as a condition to marry his daughter, he required Seward to move into the home.  One great thing about this trip is seeing all of these people forced to live with their in-laws and laughing while you thank God that it isn’t you.  At any rate, the collections (which were originals of the family) included rooms commemorating the Civil War and Seward’s role in the Lincoln cabinet and celebrating the purchase of Alaska, which Seward was harshly criticized for.  Though perhaps morbid, it was cool to see some of the blood-stained bed sheet from the attempt on Seward’s life in the Booth plot on April 14, 1865.  Last summer I got to see the blood-stained gloves Lincoln had at Ford’s Theater that same night, so this kind of completed the story.

William Seward Home

William Seward Home

Our stop at the Harriet Tubman home was a whirlwind tour.  Our host gave us a brief oral overview of Harriet Tubman, since we did not have time to see the video that they normally show.  I did not have time to see more than a couple of the displays on the walls, and wish I could have seen more.  The tour through the house lasted about one minute.

Our last scheduled stop took us to the Rochester area and the Erie Canal.  We boarded a passenger barge and took a trip of about an hour and a half on the canal.  Completed in 1825 during the period when great impetus was given to improving the transportation infrastructure of the country, the canal is 363 miles long.  It served as a highway from the Hudson River valley to the Great Lakes, and thus was a veritable highway into the interior.  As a result, more people and traffic began pushing inland, and commerce exploded.  New York City was a prime beneficiary this commercial bonanza, and its growth quickly surpassed other American cities by leaps and bounds.  Just this week, our guide told us that a personal ship was on their way home to Minnesota via the Erie Canal, meaning their journey took them down the Mississippi River around the east coast of the United States, up the Hudson River, and now across the Great Lakes and back to the Midwest.  The best thing that happened on this trip was seeing in person how the locks worked.  As the gates closed, almost instantly I could feel the boat lifting in the lock.  It only took five minutes to gravity-feed three million gallons of water into the lock to “float our boat.”  As peaceful as the trip was, it took a lot to transport myself back into time and imagine the canal jammed with barges. 

Erie Canal near Rochester

 

In the Lock

Dave in a Lock on the Erie Canal

 

After we returned, we boarded the bus and headed to Syracuse for the evening.

Day 12: Cooperstown

Posted June 15, 2010 by cudave93
Categories: Uncategorized

Our destination for this morning was Cooperstown, renowned as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We also visited the Fenimore Art Museum and the Farmer’s Museum this afternoon.  First, just a shout out for Cooperstown:  what a place.  It is small town America at its best, located in a peaceful and beautiful valley.  Its main street is reminiscent of a bygone era, with little shops and restaurants lining both sides, planters hanging from the street lights, and family homes in good repair with well-maintained lawns.  I could happily stay in this town for a few days and explore the area, although it is isolated from the rest of civilization.  I am sure, however, that this is part of what gives it its charm.

Although our trip began with a trip to the Hall of Fame, I am going to talk about it last since Mike and I traveled back there to finish our day.  Instead, I will work backward.  The Farmer’s Museum was an interesting stop.  It was established to help save the era of rural life that has long since disappeared.  The main building was once a barn, and is full of artifacts showing various pieces of equipment used on farms, such as implements used on dairy farms, various wagons, etc.  There were displays about the resources of the woodlands in the area such as fish and wildlife, fishing tackle, and traps.  We rode a carousel decorated with themes from New York history. We then got a tour through the village on-site to see what life would have been like in the mid-nineteenth century.  Different people were in period costumes and explained the function of housekeepers, medical suppliers, blacksmiths, etc.  I found the presentation given by the blacksmith to be the most impressive.  Using an old forge in a shop that was built in 1827, the blacksmith showed us how tools were forged, and even made a nail for us to show us the process that blacksmiths used.  I think that this will help me explain the social processes and the culture of small towns in what was a rural country in the nineteenth century to students.

Farmer's Museum

Carousel

Village

As I have previously stated, I am not a connoisseur of art, nor would I normally seek out art museums.  I actually did like the Fenimore Art Museum.  While it obviously is nothing on the scale of “The Met” its smaller size in some ways makes it more manageable and less overwhelming in examining the pieces.  The Thaw Gallery had impressive exhibits of Native American art, including feathered headdresses and ornately decorated clothing.  The Cooper Room was interesting in that it was entirely concerned with James Fenimore Cooper.  Many of the artworks commemorate his books.  I think that may favorite gallery was the Magnum Photographers Gallery. The project was first backed by Eastman Kodak in 1999 as a celebration of the 150th year of photography. There were scores of photographs documenting daily life and events of the twentieth century.  The power of photographs in teaching cannot be overstated, and I think that this gallery was an excellent example of it. Some showed the problems on New York City in the 1970s and 1980s with drugs, violence, and the poor.  Others showed poverty and the shelters that existed for men and women.  Still others showed events of the Cold War, struggles and conflict in the Middle East, etc.  Some of the pictures from years ago could have easily been taken in recent years, such as Afghan fighters, war scenes, and the like.  I think that powerful photographs like these can show students the continuity that occurs in history even as the world itself changes.  One of the most powerful pictures I saw were of an obviously saddened Jackie Kennedy and Robert Kennedy at the funeral of JFK.  The picture told a story better than any text could.   A final picture that sticks in my mind is a former prisoner of death camps coming through a crowd, and a woman holds up a picture, most certainly trying to see if the man knows what happened to the person in her picture.  Again—the picture says it all.

Fenimore Art Gallery

Entrance to Magnum Photographers

One last thing I will comment on at the Fenimore Art Museum is the collection of Folk Art.  I think these pieces can be used to demonstrate to students how art can influence our image of ourselves as Americans, and how art can mold our perceptions of history.  The works portrayed the heroic nature of Washington, American victories in warfare, and the progress represented by modern advances like the railroad and Erie Canal (it was actually a Whig Party political banner). 

Liberty and Washington

Whig Political Banner

Going into the trip, the Baseball Hall of Fame was definitely one of the draws for me.  Having grown up a Cardinal fan and, since 1993, being a Rockies fan, I was really looking forward to seeing the legends of the game all in one setting.  It did not disappoint.  Our first task at the Hall was business, and rightfully so.  Our host, Anna, introduced us to the history and mission of the Hall, and then guided us through the extensive education programs that the hall offers for educators.  I think that this opened a lot of people’s eyes, because Anna presented the many ways that baseball is a prism through which we can understand American history.  She presented elementary, middle, and high school lesson plans covering the gamut of issues from civil rights, to women’s rights, to economics, math, and beyond using baseball as a lens through which students can be hooked.  She also went over the optional available video-conferencing that the Hall offers.  All of these intrigue me.  I always talk about the impact of the integration of baseball on American society, as I view 1947 and Jackie Robinson as being part of the fight for civil rights and working in favor of the success of the larger movement of the 1950s and 1960s.  I plan on using several of the lessons that are available on the website.  At East, we have a long distance learning lab, and video-conferencing is something that I am really interested in doing.  I briefly spoke to Ray about ways that we could sync our efforts to provide an experience that both of our classes could experience in a more cost effective manner.  It is my goal to do this in the coming school year.

The Hall itself was magnificent.  The third floor housed world championship rings, the no-hitter case with the every hat Nolan Ryan wore during his seven no-hitters, an exhibit on Hank Aaron, and lists of records, which always sparks great discussions.  The second floor housed lockers from every team and more recent memorabilia from each of the teams.  Troy Tulowitzki was prominently featured in the Rockies locker, as it housed the gloves he wore when he hit for the cycle last year and the jersey he wore when he turned a triple play a couple years back.  The Cardinals locker had the helmet Yadi Molina threw in the air when the Redbirds won the 2006 World Series and the bat from Albert Pujols’s 300th home run. Ubaldo Jimenez’s cap and the ball that he threw 98mph on his 128th pitch to get his (and the Rockies’) first no-hitter were on display.  The second floor also had the great teams from the different eras of baseball.  The Cardinals figured prominently.  The Gashouse Gang, Stan the Man, Gibby and Brock, and Ozzie and the boys were all featured.  There were exhibits on Babe Ruth, Latin American players, African-Americans, and women.  The first floor housed the plaques of all hall members, and had cases for the inductees this year, including Whitey Herzog.  Batter up!

Dave at the Hall of Fame

"The Sultan of Swat"

Ted Williams: Hitter's Hitter

Tribute to Hammerin' Hank Aaron

No-Hitter Wall of Honor

I heard Jack Buck Call this Game: 13 Years Old

Ubaldo Jiminez: First Rockies No-No

Wizard of Oz: The Greatest SS Gloveman EVER!

Rockies Memorabilia

Most Underappreciated Great: Stan "The Man" Musial

Barrier Breaker: Jackie Robinson

The Worst of America

Ozzie, I Was Lucky Enough to Watch You!

Babe Ruth Exhibit

 

From "Viva Baseball" Exhibit: The Best Today, "El Hombre"

Day 11: Sagamore Hill, then Upstate

Posted June 13, 2010 by cudave93
Categories: Uncategorized

After loading up our bags, we said goodbye to the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge and goodbye to the Big Apple.  I am thankful that I got the chance to see it and to visit so many sites that I would not ever get to see otherwise.  At the same time it is nice to get out of the city and travel upstate to see another area of the country I likely would not otherwise see.

After about an hour, we arrived in Oyster Bay to see the home of Theodore Roosevelt, Sagamore Hill.  We took a tour of the home for about forty-five minutes or so.  TR’s home was a sight to behold inside, and in my opinion blew away FDR’s.  TR was “a man’s man” and the home reflected it.  The dark, wood-paneled walls were beautiful.  The ranger, Jen, and the film in the museum stated that everything in the house was just more or less thrown together with items that the family wanted or gathered through the years, I viewed it as the house being a lens into the personality of TR—here was his life on display.  His numerous hunting trophies attested to the central place the sport held in his heart.  Unlike others I heard on the tour, I do not see this love of hunting as contradicting his belief in conservation.  The vast majority of hunters are ethical toward the environment and believe strongly in conservation.  The two are not mutually exclusive, despite what present-day “conservation” groups like PETA or Greenpeace or others allege.  Add to this that TR was part of the movement to enact rules and regulations governing the taking of wildlife.  In any case, he was instrumental in creating national parks, the forest service, and protecting more than 230 million acres of land, so the argument that he was a hypocrite is purely personal-agenda driven and not supported in any meaningful way by the available evidence.

Sagamore Hill:  TR's Home

Sagamore Hill: TR's Home

Grounds around Sagamore Hill

Grounds around Sagamore Hill

Theodore Jr.'s Home/Museum

Many of the other items in the home were keepsakes related to other things he did throughout his active life, including his career as a public servant.  His hat and sword from his days as a “Rough Rider” in the Spanish-American War were hung on elk antlers.  Indeed, TR actually liked being called “Colonel” more than any other title.  He had gifts from renowned western artist Fredric Remington, chairs with bull horns given to him by former ranch hands in the Dakotas, and gifts from both the Japanese and Russian leaders for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.  This was an active president in both his personal life and in the public sphere.  The tour reinforced for me the idea that this was a man who was all about family, and indeed, our guide pointed out that his wife viewed him as the biggest child in the household.  He always made himself available to the children after four in the afternoon, no matter what situations or guests confronted him in his official duties.  Dinner was a family affair, and all the children were required to be in attendance unless they were ill, away, or in trouble with their parents.  I think a lot of this comes out of the fact that TR himself was sickly as a child, and he wanted his children to experience the full range of activities that were denied him as a child.

The museum was well-done in my opinion, and captured the essence of TR.  A few things in particular struck me.  First, a story that I was unaware of: that when TR was up for the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Spanish-American War, he knowingly jeopardized his chances at the medal by “rocking the boat” and writing a letter demanding that his troops be taken out of Cuba when disease was ravaging them.  Officials were embarrassed by his letter, and he was denied the Medal of Honor. President Clinton would finally award Roosevelt the Medal posthumously more than a century later.  I also liked two vignettes that I already knew, but that I thought showed TR’s decisiveness.  First, when controversy enveloped the Panama Canal project and Congress wanted hearings; TR’s response was to basically say that while Congress debated, he would dig.  Another was when some Congressmen debated the wisdom of sending the Great White Fleet around the world, fearing that the mission could be misconstrued.  When threats were made to cut naval funding, TR said that he had the money to send the navy across the Pacific and if Congress wanted the fleet to return it would have to provide the funds.  TR was definitely one of the more decisive presidents the United States has had. 

TR's "Rough Rider" Uniform

The museum also showed TR’s efforts to enhance social justice, crack down on the abuses of big business, protect consumers, and enact conservation efforts.   One of the things that always amazes students is the story I tell about the attempt on TR’s life during a campaign stop in 1912 in which he takes a bullet but continues to deliver an hour-and-a-half long speech.  The exhibit featured his announcement to the crowd that he had been shot.  All of this is part of the mystique that surrounds this man and is part of what made him a popular and effective politician.  He was the first president to make wide use of the media at the time to reach the masses through use of the bully pulpit, and though born into privilege, he had empathy and understanding of the common people gained in large measure by the experiences he had accrued prior to taking office. I teach all of these things in my classroom, although I think I also talk more about the negative consequences of Big Stick Diplomacy in terms of relations with Latin America and the lasting after effects.

"Bull Moose"

One of My Favorite TR Quotes

TR: American

All in all, I preferred Sagamore Hill to Springwood, FDR’s home.  I thought the setting for FDR’s home was more spectacular with its views of the Hudson Valley, but the home at Sagamore Hill was more impressive.

On our way out, after a circuitous route, we stopped at the gravesite of Theodore Roosevelt.  It is in a simple cemetery, and the gravesite itself is not ostentatious.  There are twenty-six steps leading up a hill to the headstone, to signify that TR was the twenty-sixth president. 

TR: 1858-1919

TR: Medal of Honor Recipient

After lunch in Cold Springs, we departed on a four hour bus ride to Oneonta.  Along the way we crossed the Hudson River and proceeded up the Hudson Valley.  The ride was beautiful, lush, and green, at least until the fog enveloped the surrounding rolling hills.  At about 7:00 or so, we arrived at our hotel, the Hampton Inn in Oneonta.  Several of us grabbed some snacks at a local establishment, Fox’s.  The hospitality girl was shocked that a group of teachers from Colorado would land in Oneonta, New York of all places, which may give you the idea of the size of this place.

Day 10: New York Historical Society and Museum of Natural History

Posted June 13, 2010 by cudave93
Categories: Uncategorized

Our last day in the city was a memorable one.  First, it was our last day on the subway.  I think that we got the hang of it pretty well after the first couple days, as long as we read our maps and relied on our own intellect to guide us.  The subway system was actually easy to use once I got the hang of it.  In fact, I would argue that using taxis probably only makes sense in very specific circumstances, as the subway is more cost effective and gets one to his/her destination relatively quickly.  A trip from Brooklyn Heights uptown as far as Yankee Stadium only takes about half an hour.  The only thing that I don’t like, and it is my bias as a westerner, is when the cars are so crowded that you can practically become one with one or two people near you.  Luckily, this only occurred once or twice.  This trip changed my pre-conceived negative perceptions about the subways and all the bad things that could happen there. 

New York Historical Society

Our time at the New York Historical Society was valuable.  The artifacts that we saw were fascinating, and the activity was did using inquiry for different artifacts was interesting.  I liked the way different people used the same sculpture of a child and a man reading and came up with different questions.  Mark’s question was particularly thought-provoking when he asked “who is teaching whom.”  We got a great binder with information about New York’s ambivalence toward the slavery question in the years leading up to the Civil War.  We have heard this several times now on this trip, and this has really helped my knowledge more as I was unaware of a lot of this, although when either Ken or Ed, or Mia explained it, it all came together because intuitively, I realized that I should have thought of it before given New York’s position as a commercial port.  The statistic that thirty-eight percent of cotton profits were pocketed by New Yorkers was eye-opening.  This will greatly expand what I teach in my class on this topic, and the document binder will be a great aid in doing so.

After a quick lunch at a deli up the street, several of us headed to the Museum of Natural History.  The most impressive thing about this museum is how expansive its collections were.  I have seen other similar museums that have displays that I would argue are just as good, but the sheer number of them is the difference.  I had to look at the collection of North American animals because…well, just because.  They had two excellent specimens of Alaskan brown bears.  Hopefully I see their relatives in living form in a couple weeks when I am in Alaska.  Another display that I thought was awesome was the Biodiversity hall.  They had a huge wall full of different species of animals, hanging fish, crabs, etc.  The African wing was comprehensive in the sense that the different cultures of Africa and artifacts from different regions were displayed.  I have not seen such a large collection of African artifacts.

Museum of Natural History

Theodore Roosevelt at Entrance of Museum of Natural History

Alaskan Brown Bears

Biodiversity Hall

After a quick trip back to the hotel, we went to Yankee Stadium on 161st Street in the Bronx. Although I do not like the Yankees, I am drawn to the tradition and history of the team.  The stadium was an amazing facility with big screens out in the plaza, large concourses, restaurants like the Hard Rock, and upscale bars.  Yet, despite the undeniably numerous and luxurious amenities, the place almost seemed “sterile.” I wonder if the new stadium here isn’t like Invesco in Denver:  a beautiful state-of-the-art facility but lacking the charm and magic of the Old Mile High. 

Outside Yankee Stadium

Babe Ruth Plaza

Babe Ruth Plaza

 Everywhere were reminders of the Yankees and their storied past.  Almost everyone in the stadium area was wearing Yankee gear—there were few Astros shirts or for that matter, any non-Yankee shirt.  Despite what a Yankee fan on the subway told me, however, I still have not bought that Yankee fans are the best fans in baseball.  I will still take St. Louis fans over just about any other fan base (with apologies to Red Sox fans, Paul, who are also great fans). 

Plaza in Yankee Stadium

Plaza in Yankee Stadium

Monument Park was something to behold.  Even though I am not a Yankee fan, it is hard to argue against Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle back-to-back in one of the rows.  Plaques lined the black granite bearing the evidence of the greatness of each player.  The best of the best, like Gehrig, Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio, Huggins, and McCarthy also had their own granite monument with their likenesses etched into the plaque.  The Yankees also had one monument dedicated to the people of New York for their resilience in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.  I thought this was a wonderful gesture.

Dave at Lou Gehrig Monument

Babe Ruth Monument

Joltin' Joe

Joltin' Joe

The Mick

9/11 Dedication to New York

As for the game, the Yankees won 4-3 over the Astros.  Best of all, we got to see at least three likely future Hall of Famers in Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, and Mariano Rivera.  It was a great evening at the ballpark.

View of Field

Day 9: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

Posted June 12, 2010 by cudave93
Categories: Uncategorized

I have waited my whole life to see the Statue of Liberty up close and personal.  The only time I ever saw that beautiful lady, I was eleven years old and in the backseat of a ’76 Plymouth Volaré crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on the way to Colorado after moving back to the states from Germany.  I could barely see her that evening and was disappointed.  Today was finally the day that void ended.

We boarded a ferry in Battery Park and set off across the harbor.  The early morning clouds gave way to a warm sun, painting a beautiful scene in the harbor.  To our left, the southern tip of Long Island and the Verrazano-Narrows bridge; to our right, the Jersey shore; receding in our wakes, the skyline of Manhattan and Brooklyn; ahead off the port quarter, the Statue of Liberty; and off the star quarter, Ellis Island.

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty From a Distance

Ellis Island From a Distance

Liberty Enlightening the World

Dave near the Statue of Liberty

Our ferry docked at Liberty Island briefly to let off passengers going there as their first stop.  We stayed on, however, as our first stop was Ellis Island and an educational program.  Approaching the pier at Ellis Island, several of us couldn’t help but adopt the guise of an immigrant in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century and imagining what it would have been like to be them as they arrived in their new country.  We stepped off the ferry and went into the main building just as 12 million others had.  I was not aware that the original processing building had burned down, and that the Ellis Island that we know today was not built until 1900. 

Ellis Island

We Comin' To America

Dana, one of our presenters, met us and escorted us through a part of the building most visitors never see because it is undergoing construction.  We walked through the Ferry Building and to a classroom where our main presenter, Jessica, warmly greeted us and began her presentation.  These two women are part of an organization called Save Ellis Island, whose goal is to restore the remaining 30 buildings that make up Ellis Island, including the Ferry Building, the entire medical wing, and the laundry services area.  We were lucky enough to be able to get a tour of the other part of Ellis Island which few people know about, much less get to see.  We were not allowed to take pictures in this wing, so alas, this may be a bland blog.  We saw the contagious disease ward, the infectious disease ward, the laundry facilities, kitchen area, and the living quarters for the staff.  It was quite interesting to hear Jessica tell stories about oral histories regarding Christmases on the island in the living quarters.  One never really stops to think that some people lived here.  The buildings of the south annex are staggered in their orientation, offset from the main corridor.  This was done as part of the overall effort to stop the spread of disease.  Circulation of fresh air was considered vital, and large windows in the rooms were left open to provide fresh air within the room, while doorways into the main corridor never fronted other doorways because of the fear that disease could spread across halls.  None of the service workers ever had to come into contact with the patients, because the building was designed to minimize their contact.

Jessica said that she wanted to change the way we thought about Ellis Island and she succeeded.  I use pictures a lot in the class, but not in the exact way that she did.  I really liked the inquiry activity she had us do and the three-stage method.  I am going to try to do this in my upper level classes and perhaps lower level (with more support, because many of those kids give up if the answer does not seem to come easily).  Through these exercises, I learned that as terrible as the inspection and detention process was for the newly arrived immigrants, most of the efforts to the staff were intended to help them.  Jessica pointed out that the medical facility was state of the art for the times and that the medical staff was top-notch, not at all what I had been led to believe in the past.  Efforts were made to bring witnesses to testify on the behalf of a person detained, even to the point of sending people into the city to find that witness.  Books were available, recreation programs were provided, and efforts were made to improve nutrition.  It is no wonder that this organization wants to save the south annex as much history would be lost if it were gone.

Career Change

 After the class session and tour of the south annex, we toured Ellis Island on our own.  The exhibits were wonderful, especially the exhibit on the second floor documenting the people coming to the United States.  There were countless passports, ship manifests, liner tickets, etc.  There were stories documenting why people came over and their view of their new country.  All of the accounts showed the push-pull factors of immigration that I talk of in my classes.  The propaganda that was spread overseas to attract settlers was obvious in that many of the accounts of immigrants mentioned the untold wealth of America, the resources of the country, and make it sound like paradise on earth.  There was obviously little to suggest to these immigrants that life could be difficult and that they could be exploited.

The Registry Room was neat to see in person, as it is often shown in pictures of Ellis Island. While the ropelines were not there, the immigration officers’ tables were still at the head of the hall as if the lines were still there and the immigrants were still waiting to check in.

Registry Room

 After exploring the museum, we went to Liberty Island, but didn’t spend much time there because the rain was coming down pretty good.  So after walking around and getting some pictures, we left for Manhattan, whereupon the rain ended and the day brightened.  Such was our luck.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Old Glory

"The Island at the Center of the World"

In the evening, Mie, Ray, and I ate at a place called The Pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge.  We had attempted to go to Grimaldi’s but the line was down the street.  Apparently it is as good as its reputation.  Our pizza was still very good, though not as good as Lombardi’s.

The Pizza