Philadelphia Mini Reunion
September 20-23, 2007
We arrived at the Marriott Residence Inn around 6pm Thursday the 20th. The hotel is located across the street from the ornate historic Philadelphia City Hall. At 548 ft it was the tallest occupied structure in the US until 1909. It is still the world’s highest masonry load-bearing structure (no steel), made of 88 million bricks and thousands of tons of stone.. The walls are 27 ft thick at the base. City Hall is a tour in itself but the tower was closed for maintenance so a great view of the city was missed..
After checking in we found the Kirknewton bunch in the 2nd floor bar and eating area enjoying a complimentary light dinner provided by the hotel. It was fun renewing friendships and visiting until the place closed. We also gathered there every morning for a full complimentary breakfast.
Friday morning a trolley bus picked us up at 10am and headed for the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we climbed the steps that Rocky ran up in the movie. There were 70 some steps but the bus driver said that Silvester only ran up the last 7! We had a group picture taken at the new statue of Rocky that was erected a few months ago. From there we headed to see the Liberty Bell. It is now in a building and security was tight. After some time viewing it and the surrounding exhibits we headed for Independence Hall and a group tour of the buildings and grounds. Very impressive to be where our forefathers drafted and signed our Declaration of Independence. I never ever thought I would be standing there - so thanks for the reunion.
We than rejoined the trolley bus and was served a nice box lunch before entering the National Constitution Center, which is very new and tremendously well done.. A great video and actor presentation in a beautiful round theater set the stage for touring through the exhibits. A person could spend a day or two there just reading and viewing the exhibits. The greatest was life size bronze figures of the drafters and signers of our Declaration of Independence that we could walk amongst and touch. It was so realistic that you wanted to start a conversation. They were posed standing in conversation and around desks and chairs conducting business. We spent a lot of time there. I was surprised to see that George Washington was 6 ft 4 inches tall and was an imposing figure.
We arrived back at the hotel early afternoon and had some time to be on our own. LaRue and I visited City Hall and went for a walk and found the Reading Terminal Market a couple of blocks away. This was an old rail terminal that is now the home of over 80 booths for shopping and eating. The philly cheese steak sandwiches looked so good but there was just not room for it.. Then LaRue, of course, had to visit Macy’s across the street from the hotel.
For dinner Friday night we all walked about a block and a half to Chili’s for dinner and conversation ending with more socializing at the 2nd floor bar in the Marriott. The next morning the bus picked us up for an hour ride out into the country to the Brandywine Battleground where George Washington and the Kings’s soldiers engaged in a big battle. On 9/11/1777 GW retreated to live to fight another day (sounds better than was defeated) and the King’s troops marched on in to occupy Philadelphia on 9/26/1777.
From Brandywine we continued on to Longwood Gardens and had a nice sit down lunch. We then had the afternoon on our own to tour through the gardens and attend a live bluegrass music concert. Longwood Gardens was purchased in 1906 by Pierre S. Du Pont to save the trees and he created a world-class garden and conservatory. It was a very nice place to spend the afternoon. At 4pm we boarded the bus for the hour return trip to the hotel with the guys sitting in the back swapping stories (which were mostly true) and entertained with Eddie’s jokes.
We then reconvened for dinner in the penthouse room, which we had for ourselves, at the top of the Marriott. It was a very nice well prepared buffet with roast beef, chicken marsala, sea shell pasta dish, caeser salad, and desserts. The only snafu was that the bartender didn’t show and we were high and dry. Not to be outdone Bridget Thomas, Jim and Agnes Tumulty, and myself headed to the state liquor store about 2 short blocks away and we were back in business. I also must add that it was much more cost effective than buying it from the hotel! We just got things going again when a bagpiper entered, much to our surprise, but not to our hosts, Bridget and Karl. He was supposed to entertain for a half hour but stayed almost an hour as he was enjoying us as much as we were enjoying him. It was really enjoyable. We then reconvened in our host’s room for some more socializing. For a bunch of old people we seemed to hang in there pretty well.
Sunday morning we all met again in the hotel breakfast room for more socializing and goodbyes.
We all vowed to attend the Minnesota reunion, conditions permitting.
It was a great reunion and many thanks go to Bridget and Karl for organizing and pulling it off. It is a very difficult job to juggle tours and meals when you have no idea of how many will attend until almost the last minute. They did it and we thank them..
Regards, Harry and LaRue Hathhorn