THE GLASS HOUSE

I have noticed this about me. I have an incredible attention span when it comes to certain activities (and this was true when I was a kid, too).  I like to watch horse shows. I like to sit on the pier and watch fishing boats come in.

And I like to watch glassmaking.

Jamestown is a good place to do that (the glassmaking part).

Glassmaking was a prosperous business in England, so the officials of the London Company figured glassmaking would also be a prosperous occupation in the new world. The company made sure glassmaking experts were among the settlers – in fact 8 of the 70 were glassmakers.

In 1608, just one year after the colonists arrived, a glass factory was in operation – the very first factory in the country.  The factory was in the woods, about a mile from town and at first seemed to be the answer to the colonists prospering. Although there is indication that the factory was in operation for at least six months, the details then disappear. But twelve years later, another glass factory was started – this time with expert Italian glass workers. Captain William Norton was behind this one and he wrote to the London Company with permission to “sett upp a Glasse furnace and make all manner of Beads & Glasse.”

But the Italians and the Englishmen didn’t get along too well. Then the glasshouse blew down, then there was war, then the Italians got sick. So that didn’t work too well, either.

However, the glass house does produce glass today. Archaeological excavations found the foundation of the furnace and fragments of green glass. The glasshouse today is near the original site on Glasshouse Point and is in operation for visitors to watch glass being made and formed.

I remember watching the glassmaking last time we were there – and have a green piece of glasswork (stamped with the Jamestowne logo) sitting on my shelve from that visit. It was no less fascinating this time.

KID FACTOR: I think a lot of kids – both little kids and teens would find this fascinating, but I know a lot of kids unfortunately get “bored” with anything. I would have kids watch at least one piece of glass being made (from beginning to end). Not only is it interesting, it’s educational. Then maybe buy then an inexpensive souvenir from the glass shop.

 

 

 

DALE HOUSE CAFE

Seems sad to be writing about Jamestown on this Sunday when they are being drenched with Hurricane Sandy. In fact, this is the notice on their website.
CLOSURE ALERT: Due to the anticipated storm, Historic Jamestowne will be closed to the public on Sunday, 10/28, and Monday, 10/29. The Dale House Café will close at 2 pm on Saturday, 10/27 and will remain closed through Monday. Historic Jamestowne will reopen once storm damage assessments and cleanup have been completed. The Colonial Parkway will remain open, however motorists should be aware that downed trees may ultimately make the scenic byway impassable.

The Historic Triangle Shuttle and Jamestown Area Shuttle will not operate on Sunday or Monday.

The Colonial Parkway is a beautiful road, umbrella-ed by oaks, maples and other tall, leafy trees … hopefully not too many of them will be damaged.

Again, the day we were there – just a few weeks ago, the weather was beautiful. We enjoyed  lunch right on the site at the Dale House Cafe which had sort of cutesy Jamestown names like Old Dominion, John Rolfe stew,  Lady Nelson Quiche, etc. I think I had the roast turkey/cranberry sandwich (Oops! I mean the U.S. Grant), I don’t remember for sure.

What I do remember is sitting out on the patio, watching the boats go down the James River.

The view from our table …

SANDCASTLES ON THE BEACH

Even though the first five people we talked to were clueless about the sand sculptures, we were determined.

Finally someone directed us to the end of the board walk where we found a huge tent AND a lot of people.

The “master” sand sculptures were protected inside the tent and it did cost us a few dollars to enter, but worth it to see something unique.

Sculptors from 10 countries were represented and the prize money is the largest awarded for this type of competition in the US, but I have no idea what that amount is.

The lighting was challenging – the sides of the tent were open and rain was falling intermittently so everything was overcast – and since I knew I would not be saving any of these pictures other than for the blog – I just went with it.

I wanted you to have a look at the unbelievably intricate work.

So have a look.

SUNDAY MORNING ON THE OCEAN SHORE

I had asked one of the leaders at the conference where a good public beach was located so that we could drive down on Sunday morning. She said, “Oh, Virginia Beach is the best.” A leader standing nearby agreed and then excitedly added that we would hit the last day of the Neptune Festival. “You’ll get to see the sand sculptures.”

We didn’t know what the Neptune Festival was, but the sand sculpture part sounded good.

So early the next morning (well, about 3:a.m., but that’s a whole other story), we headed out. We dropped B. from Headquarters at the airport and then headed south toward Virginia Beach. We did a Starbucks run and put in a CD of Dr. Jeremiah for our mobile church service and drove through unfamiliar streets and towns.

And found the beach. And the festival. And the ocean.

But the first five people we asked had no idea where any sand sculptures would be.

First things first. Although the night before Barb had seen lights reflecting in the ocean – this was the first true look and we needed to find a place where she could dip her toes.

TWELVE POINTS OF TRIVIA ABOUT APPOMATTOX

1. After the agreement was signed, soldiers from both sides gathered at the McLean home to renew friendships and reunite with families.

2. The terms of peace were kind. The message was that the nation could now rebuild as one – not one of revenge.

3. Thomas Tibbs owned a farm near Appomatox Court House. He fought his last battle on his own property.

4. Lee and Grant met one more time after leaving Appomattox. When Grant was president, he invited Lee to visit the White House and Lee came.

5. The oldest building at Appomattox is the Clover Hill Tavern (1819). You can go inside – which we did.

6. Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian, wrote out Grant’s formal agreement. Lee said to him “I am glad to see one real American here.” Ely replied, “We are all Americans.”

7. Custer (yes, THAT Custer) received the flag of truce at Appomattox.

8. Custer died fairly young (as we all know) and his wife Libby then possessed the table from the McLean house where the agreement was written. She wrote in her will, …the table on which the surrender of General Lee to General Grant was written…and now located in the… War Department Building in Washington, D. C., I give and bequeath to the United States Government…”  The table is now in the Smithsonian. ( I remember reading Libby Custer’s biography when we lived in Michigan. Interesting lady.)

9. Appomattox Court House was originally named Clover Hill after the tavern. This was a stop on the road between Lynchburg and Richmond.

10. Not all the regiments got the message that the war was over and many still fought for several weeks. In actuality, the Confederates won the last battle of the war.

11. Lula McLean (7 year old daughter of Wilmer) had been playing with her doll in the parlor before the excitement. When the agreement was signed, one of the soldiers picked up the doll and started tossing it around to the other soldiers. The men called it the silent witness. One of the men (Captain Moore) took the doll home with him as a souvenir and the family actually kept it for more than a century, recognizing it’s importance. (Most everything in the parlor was taken as souvenirs.)  Lula never saw her doll again, but the doll was donated back to the park in 1992.

12. One of the members of Grant’s staff present for the signing was Lincoln’s son, Robert.

(Much of this information is from the Appomattox Court House National Historic Site web pages as well as a few other places.)

Village of Appomattox Court House today – the courthouse/visitor’s center to the right, Plunkett/Meeks store to the left. Clover Hill Tavern in the back right and the gift shop straight ahead. (I imagine the gift shop did a big business on the day of the  signing :).)

IN MY YARD, IN MY PARLOR

As Lee’s aides were looking around for a place for the Grant/Lee meeting  they happened upon a resident of the town: Wilmer McLean who was working in his yard. They asked Mr. McLean if he knew of a good place for an important meeting and he led them to a small, uninhabited, unfurnished structure. When they told Mr. McLean the structure wouldn’t work – he said they could use the parlor of his home. When seeing that the home was well-furnished and comfortable, they agreed and went to find Lee to tell him a place had been found.

But let’s backtrack here. There is an interesting twist to the story.

Back in July of 1861, about 120 miles south of Appomattox, the McLean family owned a plantation in the town of Manassas, Virginia. The conflict between the states was escalating and Mr. McLean, offered his home to General P. G. T. Beauregard as headquarters. A cannonball was fired at the house. The ball went down the fireplace and as Beauregard himself wrote, “A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fireplace of my HQ at the McLean House.” This was the First Battle of Bull Run (one of the first Civil War battles) and it took place on McLean’s farm – yes, the very same man. Mr. McLean, a grocer by trade, decided to protect his family and moved them north to Appomattox County.

And now the final agreement would be signed in his house.

Giving Mr.McLean the distinction of having the Civil War start in his front yard and end in his parlor.

General Lee showed up about 1:00 and waited in McLean’s home. Thirty minutes later Grant arrived. For 25 minutes they chatted (yes, chatted) with neither of them talking about the reason why they were there. They discussed a former time they had met during the Mexican War and the conversation was polite and friendly. Finally, Lee got to the point. Grant said he would hold to the terms he had set in an earlier letter. (Grant later said he was embarrassed to bring up the subject of Lee’s defeat.)

The war had been ugly. The war divided a nation, friends and family. The war was unthinkable.

Yet, here at the end, both men acted with grace and simplicity. According to the Appomattox website – Grant showed “compassion and generosity.” Lee understood “that the best course was for his men to return home and resume their lives as American citizens.”

Lee did not offer his sword (as was customary) and Grant did not ask for it.

Again from the site’s web account: “The character of both Lee and Grant was of such a high order that the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia has been called “The Gentlemen’s Agreement.”


I stand on the steps of the McLean House and ponder the events that happened within the walls.

Although some of the buildings in the historic site are original – McLean’s house is not. It was taken down to move it somewhere else and then reconstructed.

The road in front of the house. Can’t you imagine Grant riding out of the woods?

The table where in the agreement was signed – actually a replica of the table where the agreement was signed.  Lee sat here.

Grant sat here.