An old boy scout pal has been a master gardener at George Washington’s estate south of Alexandria VA for nearly fifty years now. This winter he contacted me about coming to play for a conference of estate/historic gardeners, The Southern Garden History Society, a relaxed group of non-stuffy horticulturists with a reported bent for good food and drink. It should be a blast.
As a young boy scout, every Washington’s Birthday holiday between 1963 and 1968, we’d all get up at 5:00 a.m., dress in longjohns under our scout uniforms, and assemble at the gates of Mount Vernon. At the appointed hour, we’d shuck our coats, line up, and march the colors to Washington’s gravesite and present a wreath there. Then, we’d have a private tour of the mansion before public hours commenced.
On a later visit, I found a large iron key in a plexiglass box on the side of the stairs to the second floor of the mansion, and asked a docent about it: I hadn’t remembered it from when I was a boy. “It’s the key to the Bastille. Lafayette brought it to Washington after the French Revolution, as a memento.” I hope it is still there!