Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Queen Is Coming! The Queen Is Coming!

Tomarrow marks the summer long kick-off of America's 400th Annivesary Celebration of Jamestown with a visit from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Moderate chaos is everywhere as local officials prepare for their arrival. I say moderate because we tend to get a lot of dignitaries, politicans, and celebrities here, not to mention several million 'regular' visitors each year. Historic Williamsburg is a rite of passage for family vacations and student field trips, I can't tell you how many times I've heard "oh I went there with my parents as a kid" or "took a bus trip there with my 5th grade class" when I tell people where I live.

Anyway - this isn't the Queens first visit to Jamestown, she was here exactly 50 years ago to open the original Jamestown Festival Park. Over on the official Jamestown 2007 website people who had seen her in 1957 were encouraged to share memories and photographs. It's an interesting step back in time when Polaroids were high-tech and people dressed up to travel:

I really enjoyed the Queens visit. They had a scrapbook made up without the photos. They took prearranged photos of her with a Polaroid camera, put them in the album and presented it to her at the end of the tour in the fort. She was amazed. I was picked up with others to go out to the Governor’s Palace at night where the Queen was to have dinner. We were lined up at the rear of the Palace where the Queen walked between us and under our raised pikes to a cart for cocktails. The Lord Mayor of London came by us, shook our hands and gave the sergeant a five-dollar bill and said to buy them a bottle. He knew we where in the Army. I could not believe he did that. Then after telling the Queen they arranged for us to have ten minutes at the bar after they went inside. Unbelievable. Hey you can’t make this stuff up. We never did find out what the Sergeant did with the five bucks.

I'm pretty sure today's Lord Mayor of London won't be handing out $5 bills for 'refreshments'. (Might have to be more like $20 if he did).

Seems the custom of class trips started way back when...

In 1957, I was 12 years old and in the sixth grade at John Marshall Elementary School in Portsmouth, VA. Our teacher, Miss Evelyn Brooks, was very much interested in the 350th anniversary. She made us listen to and memorize a little song about the "three small ships." I can still say the names--the Godspeed, the Discovery and the Susan Constant. She also took our class on a field trip to Jamestown. While there in the Gift Shop, I bought two souvenirs. One was a funny little decorative pot which said on it, "Captin John Smith, his jug," and the other was a wooden crucifix. I still have both.

One more...
My mother and father took me to the ceremonies in 1957 at the Festival Park in which the Queen participated. I remember my Dad hoisting me on to his shoulders so that I could see Her Majesty. He told me it was important for me to see her because the Queen was a living link to our past history both here in Virginia and in England and that it was a very unique moment in time. I remember she was so elegant and petite.
A group of girlfriends and I are planning to pull our kids out of school early tomarrow and head down to Colonial Williamsburg to catch a glimpse of the Queen. With Elvis dead this is probably the best shot I'll have at seeing royalty up close so we're going.

If you have a chance to visit Williamsburg - do. Busch is debuting a new roller coaster, Jamestown has their anniversary and Casa Mastaler should have a new pool. It's going to be a great summer!

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