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Ben Franklin slept here

November 19, 2011

I am sick. I coughed my way through the night, slept late and decided that today I would play hooky. I checked out with the other staff, said my goodbyes, left my luggage at the desk and hopped in a cab to head toward the historic part of the city. I met up with L. I’ve known L all my life. She and her husband B are like a surrogate aunt and uncle. B and my dad have been friends since college. We grew up with their kids. L is a wonderful painter and I met her at her gallery before it opened, where I got a private tour of her latest exhibit and her studio. Then we went out and toured several other galleries in the area before decamping for lunch. It’s interesting looking at art with someone who makes it. L looks at things differently than I do, although we were frequently attracted to the same paintings. And she could tell me how various effects were accomplished, which was really interesting. Usually I wander around art museums wondering how it all works and this time I was with someone who could tell me.

Afterwards, we walked around the parks around Independence Hall. I tried to take a picture of the Liberty Bell for AJ from outside its window, but it didn’t come out. I’ll have to tell him about it instead. I did take a picture of a bust of Ben Franklin and a turkey:

And then there was this:

And while we’re at it, here’s William Penn standing on top of City Hall, as seen from my 23rd floor hotel room window.

And here is what we ran into in Washington Square Park: The Tweed Ride.

These people were playing badminton:


My pictures don’t do it justice. There were people riding velocipedes. Everyone was wearing various shade of vintage. A wedding party wandered up to take pictures and when finding the elegantly attired crowd, asked them to pose with them in the drained fountain. And to the pleasure of the bride and groom, they did and all cheered when the happy couple kissed.

After our wanderings, L drove me back to their house in one of the old Main Line towns. It’s a big old Victorian. I haven’t been here in more than 20 years, but I remember it well, my childhood fascination with the maids’ bells, the way we used to play hide and seek, a game made complicated by multiple staircases and lots of good places to hide. There are paintings and photos and sculpture everywhere. I’m regaining my energy for the trip home. I cannot tell you how much I can’t wait to be there.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. cranky permalink
    November 19, 2011 9:33 pm

    Hope you have an easy trip home!

  2. November 19, 2011 11:04 pm

    Lovely and civilized. I love when strangers’ paths cross with happy results, glad that you got to see it. Enjoy your time at home!

  3. freshhell permalink
    November 20, 2011 10:03 am

    When I visited a friend in Philly ages ago, I may have tried (and failed) to take a photo of the liberty bell. Maybe it doesn’t like it’s picture taken.

  4. November 20, 2011 3:13 pm

    Awesome window display and good idea to ditch the conference. A person can only do so much. I really like Philadelphia. When I was there I walked down to Rittenhouse Square, which was also full of people doing interesting things. I love the idea of a tweed ride, and believe I have a similar photograph, somewhere, of William Penn.

  5. drgeek permalink
    November 27, 2011 3:18 pm

    I’ve always liked the word velocipede. It sounds like it should be some kind of steampunk insect-inspired robot vehicle. Seeing the actual object is no less impressive, if for no other reason than the acrobatic act of mounting on and dismounting from one.

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