Thursday, October 16, 2008

Japanese Cherry Trees around the Washington Tidal Basin

I continue to bicycle around Washington, DC, taking pictures of monuments and tourist sites and matching them to vintage photographs in my grandmother's photo album- the one with the soft leathery, black-colored covers, and black velvety pages, bound together with a string which looks like it came from an old shoe.

The city of Washington, DC, is a beautiful place, especially around Easter time when the Cherry blossoms are in full bloom around the tidal basin. However, the picture below was taken during the second week of October. The blossoms have long past faded, but the leaves are still green, and on the outskirts of the city some of the tops of maples are starting to tinge with the orange and red colors of Fall. In the photo is a monument that might be forgotten during seasons other than the Spring. It is the "Japanese Lantern" gifted to America by Japan as were the cherry trees surrounding the lantern (see below)

Nearby the Lantern is a stone and plaque (image below) dedicating the grove of cherry trees, an old gnarled one of which stands in the background.

The plaque reads:

"The first cherry trees presented to the City of Washington as a gesture of friendship and good will by the city of Tokyo were planted on this site, March 27, 1912."

Sad to say, this was about 30 years before the Japanese bombed and sunk our American battleships and drowned our sailors at Pearl Harbor. This event was followed a few years later by our dropping the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and annihilating most of each town and thousands of its citizens. Good will? Hardly. However, for a much longer period of time than those horrible events, the beauty of these Cherry trees have been, and are, resurrected each Spring.

It was one of these Springs that my mother's parents and family took a short ride from Alexandria out to the blossoming Cherry trees and thankfully took pictures of the picnic.

Grandpap, Charles A. Gailliot, and Grandma Margaret, born Austel, and their oldest grandchildren under the blossoming Cherry Trees. Bob Kramp (me) is the oldest boy in the center, with brother, Billy, on the left, and our first cousin, Denis Bailey, on the right. He is the son of Joe Bailey and Helen (Gailliot). Taken about 1947. Unfortunately, Grandpap died the next year in February of 1948, aged 54 years.

Under the Cherry Trees in the Spring of 1947: My mother, the former Mary Margaret Gailliot, stands to the left of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Glen Dora (nee. Tracy) Gailliot, and her sister, Mrs. Helen (nee. Gailliot) Bailey. The picture is also a fashion statement of the 1940s. My mother is wearing MY favorite accessory. It was a fur stole made up of 2 or 3 mink skins. The mouth of one animal was a spring-like clasp that grasped onto the tail of the next mink in line and so on. After Mom doffed the furs, I would play with the skins rubbing my hand over the soft, cool hairs and occassionally clipping the "mouth" onto my fingers until the lack of circulation turned them white.


wendy said...

Thanks for posting on the Cherry Blossoms! My parents lived in Japan in the 50s (with the Air Force) & they have pictures of the Japanese Cherry Blossoms and my grandparents were in D.C. & took pictures of the Cherry Blossoms there!

Tree Service Queens said...

Great post!