Here in Cincinnati we have a lot of history. For instance, did you know that there are more US presidents from the Cincinnati area than any other city in the US? Since we live in an area so filled with history I decided to plan a (shhhhhh, it was educational) field trip to the home where William Howard Taft was born. The William Howard Taft National Historic Site is located a mere 20 minutes from our house. Not only is it convenient but it is free and the guided tour is led by park rangers, the kind that wear those Smokey the Bear hats. So very cool. We started at the welcome center and poked around listening to a talking dummy tell us about the house and its famous occupants.Notice the hand pointing the way to the talking dummy…………….Sam was mesmerized by that dummy. Just so you know that is not me but April’s adopted grandmother Mary in the picture above. And by adopted I mean that April has endeared herself to Mary and Mary has taken an interest in April. No paper work was involved in this adoption.
All to soon we had to leave the dummy and follow Ranger Murray to the main house. Sam immediately introduced himself. He (Ranger Murray) had no idea what he was in for.Sam and Ranger Murray both look ‘smokin’ in their hats.
As we entered the house Ranger Murray said to please ask questions. I cringed thinking about what kinds of questions my 3 would ask. We entered the study first with a large fireplace and a picture of President Taft hanging over it. Ranger Murray explained about the fireplace and how Taft’s grandfather would teach him a story and then add a tile around the fireplace about the story. And then he asked if there were any questions. Are you kidding me? Jake, Sam and April and OK, me are full of nothing but questions. I went first, “What stories are those tiles from?” Aesop’s fables, the Bible and Shakespeare was the answer.
I loved the fact that in this room April, Jake and Sam were able to hold and examine articles from the home.
In every room Ranger Murray would ask, “any questions”, and I would hold my breath as either April, Jake or Sam would raise their hand. They asked about the wooden box on the mantel. RM(Ranger Murray) went into a long story about the fact it was a cigar box and all about the different cigars and what person would get which cigar depending on his importance. They asked about the picture of horses above the mantle and RM told what the picture was all about and then Sam chimed in wondering if the horses were wild mustangs. They asked about a statue in the parlor and RM explained in detail about who it was supposed to be and about the matching one at the Taft Art Museum. I kid you not, RM knew his stuff. After the tour we were free to explore the rest of the house. Sam got in one more question about a desk but at this point my brain couldn’t absorb any more information so I have forgotten the answer. Upstairs we learned that Taft was not only the President but also a Supreme Court judge.
We bid adieu to the Taft House after learning much from Ranger Murray but here’s the thing…Ranger Murray learned a lot from my 3 kids with Down syndrome. He learned that people with DS can be very curious, articulate, well-behaved and enjoy learning about history too.
Side note. Jake did what Jake does best and that is taking all kinds of pictures with his iPod. He has over 2,000 pictures on his camera roll so if yo ever need a picture of William Howard Taft to use for a screen saver just let me know. Jake would be more than happy to share with you!