It is the serendipity of the road that we enjoy the most. The unexpected encounter or stop. We left Buffalo early because we were eager to get to Vermont, one of the states we’ve never visited before. We had no plans to stop along the way.
But then we saw that road sign about the National Women’s Rights museum in Seneca Falls, so we could hardly miss such an important stop.
The thing you can almost count on when traveling any place is poor signage. Other than the highway sign, there were no other signs assuring us we were headed in the right direction. The pretty drive on the backroads is like an elixir- you don’t really care if you reach your destination as long as there is beauty to behold.
We did, however, find the museum.
Open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because … women… don’t matter. And neither does their history
If you think I’m being too harsh, there was one other visitor to the museum…from Washington State. Seattle. They’d brought their teenage daughter.
Another couple had driven in from New Jersey. She lived near Alice Paul’s former home.
Still none of us could do anything other than wander about the gardens, taking in as much of the moment as possible.
Consider the thousands of museums and memorials across this country dedicated to wars and the men who fought them.
“If this had been a museum about war, it would be open,” I said to the woman who drove in from New Jersey to visit the place where Fredrick Douglass spoke on behalf of the rights of women.
We all walked the path of the memorial, read the words of the women who only a 100 years ago were fighting fiercely for the rights of women. Rights that are still being denied us. It’s all so exhausting sometimes. I wept in frustration as we made our way through the backroads of New York state on to Vermont.
Tim, the father of three daughters, drove silently. What could he say? As a historian, he understands all too well how white men have fought to oppress women and people of color. The news of Britney Spears being forced to wear an IUD by men is all too familiar of a story, whereby men seek to control women, and most importantly, their money and power.
Upon our arrival in Burlington, Vermont, we were joined on the boardwalk by our friends Bob and Lynn. I first met Bob Dees while working as an editorial writer in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Bob owned a jewelry story downtown, where I bought several pieces of handmade jewelry. Bob and I became fast friends when I learned Bob’s brother was also killed in Vietnam. His spouse, Lynn Pryer, is founder and former director of the Gilbert Theater. Lynn has been working on a book about the founding of the Gilbert in 1994. That book will be out soon.
I left North Carolina in 2009. Bob and Lynn moved to Burlington, Vermont about five years ago. They took us out to eat at their favorite restaurant on Lake Champlain, where Tim enjoyed the clam chowder and I feasted on shrimp. We spent hours sitting at our bayside table, catching up on North Carolina news and talk about books, and old loves. Bob and Lynn both have the best stories. It was a delight to spend time with them in beautiful Burlington.
We finished off the evening with a walk up Church Street, a street very much reminiscent of New Orleans, and a visit to the local Ben & Jerry’s, naturally. Then we bid our dear friends farewell.
Upon driving away, Tim said that he has fallen in love with Burlington. This morning he said his new retirement plan is summers in Vermont and winters in Oregon. Of course, he would pick the two states whose political positions most reflect his values, that of equality for every individual and love for everyone, in word and in deed.