Come over to our new home

Moving forward, new posts and updates will be here at Monumental Thoughts. Reworking the website. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

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Cat and mouse house on Embassy Row

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Have a drink, kill a president


Lincoln Assassination

What did John Wilkes Booth do the hour before killing Abraham Lincoln? Why, have a drink.

Hey, if you’re going to assassinate a president you might want to drink some courage first. Booth spent one hour nursing a whiskey and water at Tatavull’s next to Ford’s Theatre before changing history.

Today, the saloon is called Star and you can only look inside the glass storefront. The white door to the left was where the alley Booth used when coming from Baptist Alley. It’s now closed off.

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A quick tour guide joke

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Happy Memorial Day

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Czech leader Masaryk stands tall on Embassy Row

Tomas Masaryk stands tall – like 12 feet tall. It’s a good lifelike figure despite Czechoslovakia’s first president really only half that size.

The bronze statue at the corners of Massachusetts Ave., Florida Ave. and Q St. N.W. remembers Masaryk, his country’s declaration of independence from Austria in hand.

Masaryk was a University of Vienna professor of philosophy when his home region was part of Austria. He joined the Austrian parliament in 1891 and was known as a champion of women and minority rights. During World War I, Masaryk led the Czechoslovakia independence movement. He came to Washington seeking assistance and U.S. president Woodrow Wilson endorsed Czechoslovakia’s freedom during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

Masaryk was the country’s first president from 1918-35 before dying two years later. The statue was dedicated in 2002.

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LBJ Memorial Grove is a quick hit

LBJ Memorial Grove

Funny how I can live a lifetime in one town and still see new things even in my seventh decade in Washington.

I’ve driven by the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove many times, but always in a hurry to be elsewhere. Looking for some exercise on a warm afternoon, I played hooky and stopped by the memorial.

The memorial is technically in Washington on Columbia Island as part of a small, sleepy marina within sight of the Pentagon. It was chosen for its view of Washington across the Potomac River. The giant granite monolith from Texas was dedicated in 1973 less than one year after the 36th president’s death. The grove of dogwood and white pine trees leads to long walks of solitude despite overhead planes heading for Reagan National Airport and plenty of commuters whizzing by.

Johnson and First Lady Ladybird Johnson loved the outdoors and worked hard to keep the environment clean. Indeed, Ladybird was behind the billboard act that stopped more roadside ads from cluttering our views.

This memorial seems a modest reminder of a powerful president. I visited LBJ’s presidential library in Austin, Texas in 2018 and it was impressive. So was the nearby wildflower reserve dedicated to Ladybird.

The memorial has plenty of parking and a restroom and is only a few minutes walk to the monolith. The recording of three Ladybird sayings doesn’t work.

Take a breath from your busy day and stop by to remember LBJ.

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A little statue in the corner has a story to tell

I love the Organization of American States building. It is absolutely fascinating and filled with overwhelming art projects both inside and out.

One is tucked away from the front view, but you shouldn’t miss this one. Just to the right corner of the 17th St. property, behind the trees, is a statue of the Prophet Daniel.

Yes, that Daniel. The one who lived among the lions.

The eight-foot concrete statue was a gift from the Brazilian government in 1962. It’s a replica of a 1805 soapstone statue by sculptor Antonio Francisco Lisboa.

Daniel is a fascinating Biblical figure. As a youth born of Jewish nobles, Daniel served in the Babylon court of Nebuchadnezzar. Yes, that Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel could interpret visions. The ruler asked about his dream and Daniel told him for sinning against God the king would lose his mind and wander among the animals. Sure enough, it happened.

Years later, Nebuchadnezzar’s son and successor Belshazzar summoned Daniel to decipher some words that appeared after the ruler drank from goblets

Continue reading

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?


I wish my flowers grew this big.

The Federal Triangle Flower is 10 feet tall and 13 feet wide. Created in 1997 as part of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Center, the courtyard art was sculpted by Stephen Robin. The limestone flower atop a sandstone base reflects the large amount of aluminum used in the buildings.

Essentially, the two flowers were meant to jazz up an area that was a parking lot for 50 years until the Reagan Building opened in 1997. The Reagan Building is the area’s second largest building behind the Pentagon.

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An admiring statue

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Sonny Bono Park?

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Police and fire boxes gain new life

I’ll admit not knowing the following story until becoming a tour guide. Like a lot of statues, I’d walk by these call boxes never knowing they were once the lifeline of police and firemen.

It’s not often I find superb websites and YouTube videos on subjects covered here. Most subjects here are only 250 to 400 words so if you’d like a detailed history check out Call Box Project and the video below.

This photo is next to Ford’s Theatre at 10th and F. Sts. N.W. Like all former call boxes that became obsolete in the 1970s when police and firemen gained radios, this one was turned into local artwork. Naturally, this one is Abraham Lincoln given he died steps away.

At one time there were more than 1,500 call boxes around town. Many were destroyed during the 1968 riots. But, you’ll still see one here and there. A few don’t have artwork, but there’s often something cool to see.

Just one more reason to walk a little slower around town. There’s artwork amongst us.



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Best ice cream in Washington area

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Embassy Day was a big hit

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DAR Memorial remembers its founding mothers?

I used to think the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were a bunch of old bluebloods caught in the past.

And then my wife whacked me. No, Lisa just set me straight since she’s a member. Turns out it’s not easy to become a member. Lisa needed documented evidence her great great great (I guess he really was a great guy) grandfather fought with George Washington in the Battle of Trenton. (Not sure if he was in the same boat.)

The DAR on 17th and C Sts. N.W. has a mesmerizing memorial to its four founding (mothers?) amid a garden. The white marble memorial has four bronze medallions remembering Ellen Wardin Walworth, Mary Desha, Eugenia Washington and Mary Smith Lockwood. It was dedicated on April 17, 1929.

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Trying plant-based salmon

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Gandhi’s statue on Embassy Row

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Air & Space museum update is superb

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Secret of the Lincoln book tower

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Visit the Cosmos Club

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