A Celebrated Trip East…#265..( 2006)

  Frances Marion (Harriot) Willson

It was Francis Marion Harriot’s 40th high school class reunion in Hoboken New Jersey and the celebrated journey was about to begin,  The Willson’s much prompted about the venture, Gary having never been to the east coast with the exception of his flight to Orlando.  The couple arriving at an early morning hour at the Modesto Airport,  a SkyWest united airlines embraer 120 awaiting, the prop driven aircraft to transport the couple to the San Francisco for a united flight to Denver, the first leg of their easterly journey.

The new Denver Airport – from a distance resembling a desert tent city



Arriving at the new Denver International Airport,  Gary somewhat surprised at tent like architecture having addressed the old Stapleton Airport in past.  The layover enabling the couple time to eat, discovering a never before seen McDonald’s. The couple  boarding their nonstop United  seven 57 to BWI,   the Baltimore/ Washington Thurmond Marshall International Airport.  Gary enjoying the extended air time at a window seat with a view of the contouring earth from 37,000 feet.  With their arrival the couple embarking from the secure upper level.   waiting at the foot of the escalator was the patriarch of the Harriot family, Fran’s brother Ray. The eldest Harriot having taken time off from his employment with the NSA,  (National Security Agency for the United State Department of Defense).  The three exiting  the aerodrome complex,  the couple having been invited  to spend three nights with their host, driving to the Harriot’s impressive home in Laurel Maryland.   Ray and his wife Jan proffering an excursion to Washington DC in the morning, Gary enthused at the prospects.

Fran and Brother Ray

Fran and Brother Ray

The dawning of the new day, the two couples journeying to Washington DC, the Capital building and the National Mall.  Ray having spent a beneficial part of his life working in and around the Capital, having no difficulty acquiring an indoor parking area within walking distance of their objective.  . the couples starting their tour west of the capital,  a 1.9 mile walk to encompass all the reaches of the mall.  The visitors discovering many other diversified groups besides visiting sightseers, including  joggers, employees on a lunch break and organized groups playing football.



Ray acting as their provincial tour guide as they approached the Washington Monument,  the 555 foot obelisk built of granite, marble and blue stone gneiss,  the construction of the memorial starting in 1848 and the cap stone crowning finally being placed some forty years later in 1884  .   Continuing on with their journey,  coming upon the World War Two reflections pool with its cascading fountains, the couples stopping to read the inscriptions.  Onto the newest memorial addition canonizing those veterans of the Korean War, again taking a temporal length of time to view the presence of their enshrinement.   Standing in a grove of trees was another memorial,  its rotunda endowed pillars giving tribute to the 2 million Americans having spanned the ocean during the first world war.


Lincoln Memorial Building

Lincoln still presiding

Lincoln still presiding

Vietnam Wall













The far reaches of the National Mall found the prestigious tribute to whom Gary had envisioned throughout his life,  the Lincoln Memorial.   Gary singularly venturing up the steps to the monument,  the others of his coalition observing from below.  Standing in the presence of Abraham Lincoln,  his ingrained stone effigy sitting in a chair,  its presence not just a monument,  but a signature representing the stature of america,  resonating on the words this great president had spoken.   Alone within the privilege of the presidents, no one to distract his thoughts,  a rumination of history prevailing   Lincoln’s lifelong dedication to our country and to the ascendancy that stands before his memorial today.   Gary joining the others in a retention from the Memorial,  a return journey towards the Capital Building.  the north side of the National Mall encompassed a tribute to those who contributed in the Vietnam conflict.  Gary  journeying to the Vietnam veterans memorial,  a black marble structured with the names of those who had fallen in battle in Vietnam.   Fran excluding herself,  not wanting to partake of the wall having graduated from high school in 1966,  many friends having been drafted for the war in Vietnam,  her acquaintances names being engraved, Fran desiring to remember them as they were.

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum complex

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum complex

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum








A walk back to the parking garage,  a visit to the Smithsonian remaining on the agenda.   The Smithsonian composed of 19 complex’s, Gary realizing they could spend days exploring the depth of its realm,  a decision being made to choose a single complex.   The late afternoon to be spent at the Air and Space pavilion,  it’s premise displaying everything from Charles W Lindbergh’s “The Spirit of St. Louis tethered from the ceiling,  to the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, with an array of aircraft representative of the generations.  The many exhibits capturing a substantial amount of time, Gary ready to exit the touring cortège, the others all in agreement.   With the  wondrous day coming to a conclusion,  a return to Maryland was incurred.   Once returning to the Harriot’s residence, the evening hour finding a visit from Fran’s other brother Bob whom she hadn’t seen in years,  Bob hosting a lady friend named Sarah .   Gary now having the opportunity to meet both of Fran’s older brothers,  recognizing the congeniality that resided within the family.





Another dawning of a Maryland morning,  Jan preparing a commendable breakfast,  fuel for the upcoming adventurous day, the foursome journeying to Gettysburg Pennsylvania.    The highway beckoned, Gary noticing the difference between the major highways in the east and those in California,  the unkempt trash laden highways of California a visual testimonial to some of its citizenry.  With their arrival at the Gettysburg National park,  the two couples entering the Battlefield National Museum.  The nine room museum exhibiting artifacts from the Civil War,  the uniforms, armament and photo excerpts from the era,  but most impressive to Gary was the Battlefield Auditorium.   The auditorium, a large room with bleachers on one side looking down upon a large tabled epitome of the battle of Gettysburg,  the  two-opposing army’s positions highlighted with different colored lights.   As the simulated battle progressed, the lights would give action to their battlefield positions,  a representation of what transpired in 1863 Gettysburg, it being the bloodiest battleground of the Civil War and where Union Major General George Meed’s, Army of the Potomac engaged Confederate General Robert E Lee’s Army of Virginia.   The three-day battle commencing on July first 1863,  resulting in 51,113 casualties divided between the north and south, but all americans.  The dedication for the Soldiers National Cemetery and the Gettysburg Address was given by president Lincoln 4 and ½ months after the battle    .

Gettysburg Park Guide

Gettysburg Park Guide


Ray and Jan Harriot


The two couples exiting the museum joining the tourist group accompanying the park guide  up the gentle rises of the cemetery.  The guide providing commentary at the monuments,  Gary overlooking the historic Gettysburg battleground,  finding an acquiesce of solitude, realizing the chronicles of significance that had transpired on this hallowed ground, its meaning and the aura of the past still remaining.   With the afternoon sun beginning to twain, a somber accolade of american history having been fulfilled, a return to Maryland and a quiet evening spent in anticipation of the morrow.  Ray and Jan graciously offering to drive Gary and Fran to cousin Rhoda’s in Vineland new jersey, a distance of 130 miles.   the long morning drive completed, ray and Jan remaining just long enough to convey their greeting having over two  hours of apprehensive road travel for their return.  Gary impressed and ever thankful for the extended hospitality of ray and Jan.


The couple taking pleasure in their visit to Rhoda’s fashionable trailer park abode.  Gary impressed with her Willie nelson wall, a portrait of the acclaimed musician and other tributes,  Rhoda a proclaimed fan having met Willie at a concert in Jackson New Jersey and of course Gary mentioning that he meant Willie when playing in Wichita Falls Texas in the sixties.  It was  during a time Willie had a top-of the chart hit, the party’s over.    The star having performed at the Wichita Falls Auditorium,  he and several other well-known  western musicians had  cavalcaded to the club where Gary and The Untouchables were playing.  Willie, a clean-shaven suit and tie attired musician sitting in with the band.   Jerry Willis the band’s guitar player commenting later that the young Willie had the worst timing for a musician that he had ever played with, a trait that would soon become willies trademark.   Rho was a perfect hostess having prepared dinner, the two recalling remembrances from the prior years when an unexpected visitor arrived, another cousin, Rhoda’s brother Tate, making an unexpected appearance.  Fran also discovering that Rhoda’s sister Dottie was within walking distance,  another visit to someone from her past   .



The new jersey evening making an appearance, the couple aware of the hour.  Rho driving them to downtown Vineland to a Days Inn within walking distance of the bus station for their morning journey to New York city and on to Hoboken.   Later that  evening in their room, Gary  answered a knock at the door, a black man expecting another person.  A second knock at eleven o’clock and another person with a questionable look on his face.   Gary walked down to the motel office, asking the desk clerk if there was some reason people were knocking at his door,  suspicious the motel and their room might have something to do with drugs.  he requested a room change but the night clerk declined, saying he would inform the police and request drive-by’s for the rest of that night and wouldn’t be bothered again.  Gary’s returning to the room reassuring Fran, mentioning the desk clerks solution.   Fran laughing with a comment.  Welcome To New Jersey    .

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