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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 10: Tea Time for Activists

Let's Have Tea!

She fought for women. He fought for blacks. Together, they fight crime!

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…

Susan B. Anthony Square!

This way to tranquility and tribute.

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.

Susan B. Anthony Square!

Susan B. Anthony Square on a Sunday afternoon.

Rochester 100 signs!

Decorating the perimeter are signs that celebrated last year’s centennial for women’s voting rights in New York, having been granted three years before the 19th amendment legalized them nationwide.

Rhoda DeGarmo!

Banners saluted a selection of collaborators such as Rhoda DeGarmo, a suffragette who was among those arrested with Anthony after Election Day 1872. She also organized anti-slavery fairs and was part of the Underground Railroad.

Dark Side Tea!

The other side of those statues, facing away from the sun. The dark side of tea time, as it were.

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.

chapel and crematory!

Old chapel and crematory lying just beyond the entrance.

fountain!

Anne enjoyed nice scenery such as this pond and fountain while I navigated a one-lane road up the side of a hill that would’ve gotten awkward if anyone else dropped in for a Sunday evening cemetery jaunt.

Anthony’s grave was the easier of the two to find…

SBA arrow!

Special thanks to this handy roadside marker and a grave located not too remotely.

Anthony's grave.

Susan B. Anthony, d. 3/13/1906, age 86.

Anthony family.

The Anthony family plot. As in life, at her side is her sister Mary. Visible on the larger monument at right are the names of her father Daniel and her other sister Hannah.

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.

FD arrow...

Turn left a few hundred feet down at the first clue…

FD arrow 2...

…then after a few dozen more feet, turn right at the next clue…

Douglass headstone.

…and there he was. Frederick Douglass, d. 2/20/1895, age 77.

Douglasses.

Survivors upon his passing included his second wife Helen Pitts Douglass, who helped found the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association. Not pictured but equally nearby is his first wife Anna. As in life, both women — both of them abolitionists — remain by his side.

To be continued.

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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