restoman: (Glenn)
[personal profile] restoman
I am back from the trip to Virginia. I drove down there on Wednesday, and drove back on Friday. John went with me, spending most of the travel time sleeping in the truck. That was OK. I did not have a serious problem with dozing off, made frequent stops for snacks and bathroom breaks, and took a half hour nap in the middle of the driving on both days. The drive south took 7½ hours (including the half hour nap). The traffic was generally light, and construction areas were minimally frustrating. I did all the driving. We made it to Leesburg, Virginia about 6 PM, checked in to a Best Western, and had dinner at a little Chinese restaurant in the heart of the historic district of Leesburg. The town was beautiful, with lots of restored 18th and 19th century buildings. Our stay at the Best Western was comfortable and pleasant, and about a third of the price we would have had to pay in Washington DC. Thursday morning was rainy and dreary. After our free breakfast at the motel, we jumped into the thick of the Thursday morning commuter traffic and headed in to Fairfax to get copies of my father's death certificate, and then on to the bank in Reston to meet up with my sister, and my niece and her husband.

The business at the bank was long and drawn out. I opened my father's safe deposit box to find a small cache of mostly obsolete papers: the deed to his house (which we sold a year before he died), the title to the car he wrecked 8 years ago, and a copy of his will (I already had a copy, and everything is dispersed now anyway.) For some time, my sister and I had speculated about the contents of that safe deposit box. When we were young, we had both seen a family heirloom, a gold filigree necklace studded with seed pearls, that had been in the family since the mid-19th century. The story was that the necklace had belonged to my father's great-grandmother. I last saw it at my mother's house on Long Island when I was about 12. My sister last saw it when she was about 18. We believed that my father had reclaimed it from my mother, 30 years ago, long after they were divorced, when he drove to Long Island for a family gathering. Unfortunately, the necklace was not in the box, and whatever happened to it will remain a family mystery. My sister and I closed out my father's account, and each went home with a nice fat bank check. The 5 of us had lunch at what had been my father's favorite restaurant, at the same strip-mall as the bank. Then we said our goodbyes. Linnell, Alida and Pat drove back to New York City, while John and I drove into Washington DC for an afternoon of touristing. As we drove, the gray skies and rain gave way to a pleasant, partially sunny day.

While we briefly stopped to see the Washington Monument and the White House, my main goal was to see a special exhibit at the National Postal Museum. For more than 50 years, I have wanted to see the "Penny Magenta", the most famous stamp in the world. It sold last year for 9.5 million dollars, and is by far the most valuable stamp, (and probably the most valuable object on earth for its size.) As a life-long stamp collector, getting a chance to see this rarely displayed, unique bit of legendary paper was like being offered a chance to see the Holy Grail! The stamp has spent most of its life tucked away in bank vaults, and has not been displayed in public for decades. At the museum, since light is the enemy of paper and ink, the stamp was carefully displayed behind several layers of glass, and people who wanted to see it could press a button to dimly illuminate it. The stamp was printed in 1856 on magenta-colored paper, in British Guyana, and was used for a very short time to pay the postage on local newspapers. This is the only surviving copy of this stamp, which despite its crude printing and somewhat shabby appearance has made it a legend. The stamp was difficult to see, and somewhat disappointing because of that, but still, I was thrilled to see it. John and I did a quick tour of the rest of the museum and then headed on back to Leesburg, again at the height of rush hour, to another Chinese dinner.

On Friday, after the complimentary breakfast, we drove back to Syracuse. On the drive home, we made slightly better time, shaving 20 minutes off the trip. There were persistent snow flurries through much of Pennsylvania and New York, but the snow wasn't sticking.
We got home a little after 4 PM. I was exhausted from the drive, but Lily was ecstatic to see me. Bob had taken good care of her while I was gone. I had been dreading this trip to Virginia, but, all things considered, it went very well. John had a good time and was glad to get out of Syracuse for a change. And I got to see Linnell, Alida and Pat, and had a once-in-a-lifetime look at the "Penny Magenta".

Historic Leesburg, Virginia.


A log cabin, built in 1760, in Leesburg.

The corner of the cabin, showing how the logs were notched together.

The Capitol, still decked in scaffolding.

The Washington Monument.

The White House, besieged by tourists.

The Postal Museum. It is housed in what was Washington's main post office in 1914.

The Postal Museum is in a spectacular Beaux Arts Style building, built in 1914, that was once home to the main Washington DC post office. It has coffered ceilings, marble floors and walls and bronze fixtures. It has all been restored to perfection.

Some of the bronze post office boxes and a bronze torchere.


The Penny Magenta, on the left. On the right is a better look at the stamp.

A better image of the stamp, borrowed off the internets.

Date: 2016-04-11 02:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
beautiful photos of the capital.

a pity about the necklace though...

Date: 2016-04-12 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Mike!
It was a shame we did not find it. We will probably never know what became of it.

Date: 2016-04-12 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
can you possibly follow up through your mom's side of the family?

Date: 2016-04-12 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My sister (and her 3 kids) and I are all that remains of either side of the family. Both parents were only children, and their parents' generation are all long gone.

The most likely fate of the necklace is that it was stolen out of my mother's house by one of her home health aids. :-(

I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

Date: 2016-04-12 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
that's still too bad.

Date: 2016-04-11 04:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I would have loved to have seen that stamp! :)

And I'm glad it was a good trip, all in all. Definitely the closing of a chapter ...

Date: 2016-04-12 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As a fellow collector, yes, I'm sure you would have enjoyed seeing the Penny Magenta, Mark. It is truly legendary! The good news is that if you find your way to Washington this year or next, you can still see it at the Postal Museum. :-)

I am glad that the trip is over, and that chapter in my life has come to a close. Those all-day-long drives are exhausting, and stressful. It was easier to do it when I was younger.


Date: 2016-04-11 10:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well glad you had a good time!!!

So happy you went and saw the Stamp. So know that is your thing. The white house looks packed. When I was there on July 4th (MANY) moons ago, it didn't have that crowd that I remember.


Date: 2016-04-12 04:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, Kevin!

Seeing the Penny Magenta was an opportunity I couldn't pass up!

I don't know if a charter tour was stopped at the White House or what, but the crowd there was more than I have ever seen before ~and it all looked like tourists, not the usual protesters! I took that shot from across the mall. I didn't feel like walking a half mile to get up to the fence around the White House.

Date: 2016-04-11 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'd never heard of that stamp; that's fascinating. Thanks for writing about it.

I'm glad your trip went well. Miss you. *hugs* I hope you're getting better weather there, finally.

Date: 2016-04-12 04:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you are interested, here is an article on the stamp's history and significance:
It is legendary among stamp collectors.

Thanks, Chris, I miss you too! The weather here is slowly getting better. In 3 weeks it will be glorious.


Date: 2016-04-11 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The trip sounds interesting. I like the photos. You take good photos.

Date: 2016-04-12 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank You, Jerry! :-)

A big part of getting successful photos is how I edit them on my computer. If the lighting is poor, or the weather is gray, I bump up the saturation of the colors, and often the light/dark contrast to make them clearer. I also crop them to make the dominant diagonal lines vanish into the corners and frame the edge of the image with features like trees. I try to divide the spaces of the image into thirds, either vertically or horizontally, to balance the composition. Finally, I add my initials and the year in some corner. It takes me more time to edit the pictures than it does to take them, but I enjoy playing with them.

Date: 2016-04-12 12:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sorry there weren't any hidden surprises in the safety deposit box. :(

had dinner at a little Chinese restaurant in the heart of the historic district of Leesburg.
That just makes me chuckle. Wonder how many Chinese were around back then? lol...

WOW great touristing in DC. I haven't really been into stamp collecting like I use to, but that would be so cool to visit that museum. :)
Hugs, Jon

Date: 2016-04-12 11:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, Jon, the safe deposit box was a big disappointment.
I doubt that tiny Leesburg had a Chinese population in the 19th century, but my wall calendar, which features historic photos of downtown Syracuse, had a photo in February that showed a Chinese restaurant in Syracuse in 1920.

The museum was very cool. I only spent 1½ hours there, because I could see that John was getting bored. If I were alone, I could have spent the whole day there! :-)

Edited Date: 2016-04-12 11:55 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-04-12 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love old historical calendars like that. :)
1920 Syracuse had Chinese? Very interesting.

Stamp talk makes me want to get mine out and start looking through them. :)

Date: 2016-04-12 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, a whirlwind trip!

Glad it was without incident. Pity about the box - the realities never live up to the mysteries!

Date: 2016-04-12 12:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, Larry, it was definitely a whirlwind trip! With my crew eagerly awaiting my return so they could get paid, I couldn't justify taking a longer trip.

Thanks, I guess that gold and pearl necklace will remain the stuff that dreams are made of.

Date: 2016-04-12 03:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad to hear your trip went off as well as it did. And, although I'm not a "stamp guy" I still squeal just a little bit at your joy in seeing the Penny Magenta. I know that's a big deal.

Date: 2016-04-12 12:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Scott!
I was delighted to see the Penny Magenta! Since the stamp was first found in 1873, it is estimated that it has spent a total of less than a month on public display (before its current display at the museum.) So, seeing it was definitely a big deal! :-)

Date: 2016-04-21 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sorry to read about your father's passing. Sending you big hugs.

Date: 2016-04-22 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Kris!
It is good to see you here again!
I hope that life has been treating you well!


Date: 2016-05-04 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Looks like you had a great time. Great pics BTW>

Date: 2016-05-06 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, Dave! ...and welcome to my world!
I don't know when you added me to your friends' list, but I just noticed it this week. I look forward to getting to know you better! :-)
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 09:11 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios