Alternate History, Colonial History, Dental, George Washington, Public Art, Sculpture, statue, United States

Stumping for President (Learning All About History By Looking at Statues. Chapter I )


I want to achieve two goals with this post.


Inaugurate a new series “Learning History By Looking At Statues, Before They’re All Taken Down”.


I don’t want my kid sister to feel badly about not having a driver’s license.


Geo. Washington, in the park. Sometimes stumped, often defeated, but never beaten. Carried through the Revolution by his single-minded drive, and a horse.


Dear Sis –

George Washington was a great man.

He fought the French, he fought the English, he fought the Hessians, and he fought the Whiskey Rebellion.

And despite all that, he isn’t seen as a hostile guy, everybody thinks he’s a great guy.


Like many otherwise nice, intelligent people…

He.  Could.  Not.  Parallel.  Park.

Look closely at this statue.  This happened all the time.

Stuck  on  a  stump.

An unparalleled leader of men, but he just couldn’t parallel park.

“Martha?  Can you give me a lift?  There’s something the matter with this horse again.”

And did he give up?  I do not think so.



What is carved on the base of this statue?  A quotation from the Marquis de Lafayette:

Il est un conducteur terrible.     Mais il est toujours un grand homme”

“He is a terrible driver, but still, a great man.”

Washington was a lesson in perseverance, and overcoming all obstacles in your path.  Except granite curbs.  And light poles.  Stray shopping carts, too.




Now, here he’s crossing the Delaware.

Why would you do that in a little boat, standing up, when the river’s full of ice?

Because you cannot get your horse to go around the safety cones, on the bridge to New Jersey.

So you don’t give up, you take the ferry.

You just have to keep trying.  And re-taking the driving test.  I will give you driving lessons over the holidays.

But not with my car.




28 thoughts on “Stumping for President (Learning All About History By Looking at Statues. Chapter I )

  1. pinklightsabre says:

    That’s sweet, for your sis. I shudder at the thought with my two kids. Reason for us to hold onto our 1990 Volvo wagon, maybe. It’s all about lining up the angle of the rear view mirror with something but now I forget. I guess a lot of it is about confidence under pressure too, especially in front of a sidewalk cafe in the summer when everyone’s sitting outside with drinks watching you.

    • This is just a small joke, I’m the last person to teach anyone parking, especially in front of a cafe crowd. I didn’t bring my car to Boston, traffic is pretty nuts here, no parking with this apartment, and they boot cars if you forget about the street cleaning schedule, etc. Living near a T-station is proving to be a great idea.

  2. This is the funniest darned post I’ve come across in some time. I’ve read it about a half-dozen times, and it took until the third time or so to finally see the stump. I was so taken with the writing, I was ignoring the image.

    There’s one thing about those driving lessons — you never know when they’ll come in handy. When I was in high school, my dad took me down to the shopping center parking lot in January to teach me how to drive on ice. We did it all — it was a big parking lot — until I had “steer into the skid” down pat.

    Fast forward to the Houston freeways, thirty years later. I was going about 65, and got rear-ended on the port stern quarter by a dude going about 100 or better. I started going back and forth across the freeway, and honest to goodness, I could hear my dad saying, “Steer into the skid.” I never spun out, although the tires were shredded to nothing, and the concrete barrier at the median took out the front end. The guy behind me said he couldn’t believe that I kept the car pointed straight ahead.

    It’s so weird, how things we don’t even think about at the time turn out to be so important later. Carry on!

      • I’ve seen it too, at the Met, pretty impressive. They’ve also got a modern version by Larry Rivers, interesting but not my thing. I’ve always like Leutze’s painting – meant to be good art, not an illustration for good boating practices.
        I was an intern & docent at the Wm. Seward House museum in Auburn, NY – – they have two paintings by Leutze: “Signing of the Treaty for the Purchase of Alaska,” and a nice portrait he did of Seward’s dau-in-law, Anna.

  3. Oh my god, this is hysterical. Your sis is a lucky person, even if she can’t maneuver a car well. She can laugh at the whole thing along with you. I bet she’s pining for a car that parks itself. If I were nearby I’d offer to help – I got really good at it when living in places (Hastings-on-Hudson, NYC) where I had to move the car daily and always parked in tight spaces. Glad those days are over though!

    • So glad you got a kick out of it, it’s one of the oddest statues I’ve ever seen. I’m actually pretty rusty at parallel parking. I didn’t bring my car to Boston, the T is just a few blocks away, and there’s no place to keep a car around here without spending a fortune.

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