Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bonnie Parker's Poetry, Crime and Punishment, and Ollie's Trolley: A Day in DC

I was a tourist in my own town for a day last week, and here are a few things I learned:

--Don’t be a tourist in DC during the summer. I was reminded of why I go to tourist attractions only between the months of November through February. Lots of lines. I was amazed at how docile and beaten down the other tourists were, apparently accustomed to standing around before any experience was considered complete.

--Seeing the Constitution displayed at the National Archives is always a thrill. And if you go, take some time to ask questions of the guy sitting at the information booth. How else will you find out the story behind the Constitutional delegate from Pennsylvania with the wooden leg?

--The new Museum of Crime & Punishment is pretty cool, better than the Spy Museum if you ask me. It’s a little grisly (okay, that medieval section was downright horrifying!), but perfect for a teenage boy. Allow more time than you think you need, especially if you’re a plaque-reader. Lots of fascinating stories, and plenty of hands-on stuff—and those quirky oddities that make any museum a success in my opinion (i.e. one of John Dillinger’s eyebrow hairs on display).

--The newly restored Ford’s Theatre is great; go for the ranger talk if you can, so that you can sit in the theatre and visualize the whole, awful scenario of Lincoln’s assassination. I also liked the plaques downstairs that outlined the events of both Lincoln’s and Booth’s day—very humanizing. Booth was frighteningly organized.

--The boarding house where Lincoln died is across the street and admission is included with your Ford’s theatre ticket, but don’t bother waiting if there’s a line; there wasn’t that much to see.

--And lest you think this post has nothing to do with writing, you’ll be interested to know that Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie & Clyde fame) wrote poetry! Some examples are on display at the Museum of Crime and Punishment. Not that going into a life of crime was a good decision, but after reading her poetry, I don’t think she had much of a future as a poet, either. Decide for yourself here.

--Finally, no post like this is complete without a mention of food: we ate lunch at Ollie’s Trolley, enjoying burgers and fries seasoned with 26 herbs and spices. Not the best burger in town, but perfect for our day.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.