Our tour of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House wasn’t the only highlight of our Rochester detour. Across the street sits another tribute to the titular champion of women’s voting rights. Alongside her is a great man, a close friend of hers, and a well-known name in other circles then and now: the great abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.
We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…
The small park’s centerpiece is the above-pictured pair of bronze statues, a team-up of rights champions entitled “Let’s Have Tea”, the work of Laotian artist Pepsy Kettavong. Most sites indicate a 2001 completion date, but the sign on location reads “1998-2002”. In real life Anthony’s parents introduced her to Douglass, and the two became friends and frequent partners at the same speaking engagements. He was one of many recurring visitors at her house along with other suffragettes, and printed the first copies of his newsletter The North Star in her basement.
Our departure was set back a few minutes when I started the car and the dashboard immediately insisted, “COLLISION DETECTED.” Accompanying the message was a drawing of a tiny explosion. An inspection of every side of the car turned up no signs of bumps, scrapes, or soot from an actual explosion. Once again the fancy dashboard tried to be helpful but wasn’t. Best guess: love tap from some passing motorist. All I know is the rental company didn’t hit me with a surprise body-shop charge later.
Anthony and Douglass died eleven years apart, but their final resting places are only three miles down the road from the Anthony House. Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery was dedicated in 1838 and was the hilliest of all the cemeteries we visited on this vacation. A few other famous personalities lie there as well — e.g., the man who founded the company that owns our local newspaper, along with both Bausch and Lomb, the kings of eye care. However, after spending so many hours that morning in Buffalo, especially in their own cemetery, we hadn’t left ourselves enough margin to entertain too many more extra-credit cameos. Even though they weren’t perfect fits for the “Presidential burial site” theme of this trip, at the very least we wanted to visit Anthony and Douglass before moving on.
Anthony’s grave was the easier of the two to find…
In tracking down Douglass, we learned the cemetery’s official maps indeed lays out all its existing roads, but fails to mention which ones cannot actually be accessed by car. We had to park at an intersection in front of poles barring our way and walk the several hundred feet remaining between us and his site.
To be continued.
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