I left the museum around 2pm and walked over to the Barnes & Noble at Power Plant. I browsed through the magazines and ordered
a frozen coffee, but I didn’t feel like WASTING a trip down to Inner Harbor so I returned to the museum around 2:53pm (as school gets out at 3pm).
The same woman was sitting at the ticket counter, and she didn’t look happy to see me. I pulled my wallet out and asked her if it
was too late to get into the flag house. She looks at me crossly and sneered “it’s a grown-up tour now, so you better be on your best behavior!”
She walks around the counter and leads me towards the house, lecturing me on my insolence.
“You listen here! If they find out I let you in without paying, they’ll fire me. Do you understand me? Do you understand me? I
SAID: ‘DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?’ YES OR NO?”
“Yes, yes, I understand you, but what I don’t understand is why you are being so incredibly rude to me when I offered to pay
you twice and you refused it.”
She turns around and glares at me and with a low, menacing growl says: “You listen here, you will not – I repeat WILL NOT – speak
of this to anyone. Do I make myself clear? Good, now you better behave yourself.”
She knocks on the door to the small row house, and mumbles something about possibly being upstairs by now. Then after the third
try, a young woman in period dress answers and leads me back towards the front of the house. Suddenly I feel bad for all the people whose tour I just interrupted.
Fortunately, the house itself isn’t all that big, but it is decorated with period art and furniture (mostly from private donors).
In fact it is somewhat hard to believe this the location where Mary Pickersgill and her family sewed most of the 30×42’ garrison flag that so flew over Fort McHenry in 1814.
She then leads the group up the narrow staircase towards a surprisingly large bedroom. Along the entry wall was what looked like
a queen sized bed along with a small “convenience pot” near the door (the househad no bathrooms). Across from the bed, which she shared with her husband and two nieces, was a tiny sewing desk. While the portrait on the far wall had nothing to do with Mary or her family, the necklace from the painting was on display in a case directly behind where I was standing. However, that wasn’t the most exciting thing about this room:
“This is the only room in the house to still have its original floorboards,” she beamed. “Imagine that, these are the same boards that Mary walked on while she was sewing our flag!”
The docent then took us across the hallway to room Mary’s mother Rebecca stayed in. It looked considerably smaller, furnished with
only a single bed, a foot chest and a small painting, however, there was only one person living there at the time.
Across the stairwell was the “renters room,” I won’t bother describing it as it is essentially the mirror image of Rebecca’s room.
However, this room also had a wash basin in the corner for them to use, no mention of a “convenience pot.”
“It’s a little hard to believe today,” our guide said. “Five people sharing one bedroom and they still have a ‘spare room’ to rent out.”
Thus endth the tour….but wait, the guide said that I missed the first few rooms. As everyone else is leaving, she briefly explains
the kitchen and some of the “creative” cooking strategies women used during that period.
Next up was the dining room which barely looked big for two people, let alone the 6-7 that typically ate there. Interestingly
enough, unlike upstairs, the portrait above the mantle is of one of her actual relatives.
I follow the guide back to the now empty visitors center where I give my $7 to a far friendlier face behind the ticket counter
before making my way back to the subway. This blog is beholden to no-one.