"only 90 minutes, incredible!"

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This entry is to focus on the challenges of we docents at TMM face in meeting time restraints of visitors.  I recently greeted a nice couple with four children, ages 8-15, from outside of Westchester, N.Y.  I  asked them what their time allowance was, and they said ” an hour and a half!”  (a challenge persists).  I offered them a 1 hour tour, or so, of the museum galleries, excluding The Monitor Center and The Chesapeake Bay Gallery.  They willingly accepted and were most interested  throughout the tour. It seems that their 14 year-old son had a basketball tournament nearby. They were most interested during the tour. While in the Great Hall of Steam, I noticed that the 10-year-old son was lingering in front of one of the working  model steam engines.  I said “it seems we have future engineer among us.”  The mother replied, “that is what he wants to be”. At the completion of the gallery tour, we entered the museum back by The Monitor Center and I was able to convince them that the remaining part of their time would be best used by watching the Battle of Hampton Roads, which was showing  just at the time we arrived at the entrance to the Battle Theater!

As I was escorting  them out,  the entire family was most gracious and said how impressed they were with the museum.  The father said it was “incredible” what we had achieved  in “only 90 minutes”.  They will not long forget their “whirlwind” visit to The Mariners’ Museum. (nor will I)

"Californians here they come…."

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Yes, Californians are coming to The Mariners’ Museum.  Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of greeting three different families form California. These visitors had been exposed to our museum via the internet and another from a hotel at which they were staying. One of the families was from San Diego and had a teenage son who was a Civil War buff.  What a delight to meet teenagers and students who are interested in history!!  He couldn’t wait to get started in The Monitor center!  We hope to see a lot more far away visitors this summer.

When I greet these Californians, it gives me the opportunity to share with them the museum connection with the Huntington’s from there.  They are not aware of Collis P. Huntington and how he brought the C&O railroad from West Virginia to Newport News.

One hull of a boat….

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A different twist this week: a phone-a-visitor.  In conjunction with my volunteering at the Chris-Craft Archives at The Mariners’ Museum library at Christopher Newport University, we receive phone calls from all over the world concerning various Chris-Craft boats.  The mode of reference for research and responses to the callers usually hinges on the hull number of the boat as given at the time of construction.  This is the basic requirement.  I  took a call from a gentlemen from New Hampshire who said that he had a hull plate from a Chris-Craft, but that is all!  He did not know if the boat still existed, as it may have sunk, wrecked, or just died.  At any rate,  he wants plans and drawing so that he can build  the boat around the hull number, as he is a boat builder and can use CAD (computer aided design) to accomplish this effort.  ( 37-foot boat)  While we may never know the end of this story, but I can assure you this will be “one hull of a boat”!

Lady in red…

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The visitor of the week has somewhat of a personal anecdote, but focuses on a charming leittle lady who was part of a group of senoir citizens from Charlottesville
touring the museum. This charming and petite lady was dressed in a fire engine red outfit and a classy matching hat, and walked with a cane. Somewhere during the tour, she mentioned a Curtiss airplane, and I said we do not have any here, but there was a Curtiss air museum in upstate Ne York. She replied that she knew of it, and that she was from Penn Yann, N.Y. I asked her if she knew of the name “Warder” of Geneva, N.Y. (which is just a few miles from Penn Yann , Senator Warder having been wife’s father and 18 year State Senator from N.Y. She said she must have left N.Y. before the Warder name became known to the public.

So, I recounted this story to my wife, who said that her family went back to 1876 in Geneva. She said to me “do you think that lady left before then! ?”

Wants his money back! (duh)

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The benefits of technology are far reaching, as expressed in an experience with a couple from Hampton, Va. who were visiting the museum for the first time!  (can you believe it?)   I said, “let me show you the treasure that exists in your own “back yard”.  I gave them the usual 3 minute greeting and an overview of the museum via our new innovative slide presentation.  Which, if you have not experienced it, is a brief docent manually controlled slide showing several views highlighting features of the galleries of the museum.  After I had finished this greeting and slide presentation, the gentleman said “may I get my money back?”  With astonishment, I remarked “why would you want that?”  He said.”well, I feel like that we have just had a TOUR OF THE MUSEUM”, His request for a refund was in jest, of course.  Naturally, I was pleased with the acceptance and reception by this greeting delivery.

Once again, the joys of being a docent continue with each passing day.