THIS PAGE AND STORY IS DEDICATED TO MY OLD AIR FORCE UNIT LINK HERE:
AND TO ALL THOSE WHO SERVE AND HAVE SERVED OUR COUNTRY.
This story "WHO LEFT THE DOGS OUT?" is published in the Bucks County Town and County Magazine Winter 2006 Issue click here
WHO LEFT THE DOGS OUT?
Today we walk our dogs Sir Charles and Lord Oliver along the banks of the Delaware at Washington Crossing Park Pennsylvania, and especially enjoy all of the seasons including the Christmas Holidays.
We always stop and set on benches near the sign post that explains why "General George Washington Crossed Here" with his Generals Knox, Sterling, Mercer, Hamilton and others
and his rabble of an army. The history people all report that on this very spot on Christmas Night 1776, Washington said to his wear army: "To the boats men..."
Then they all loaded on Durham flat bottom boats and crossed the Delaware and marched the many miles to Trenton to defeat the Hessians and win a decisive battle that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War....and win the freedom we have to day...to walk our dogs along these banks and not speak with a British accent.
...Most of us know the story; there is a very famous picture painted by (German Born Artist-Leutze) and a copy of it is in the history books helping to define the moment. Some claim there are a lot of falsehoods in the painting??, but I know one truth....there are no dogs in the picture.
...I know this whole story well, because from 1974 to 1991 I played General Hugh Mercer in the annual Christmas Day Crossing re-enactment. I know that none of the actors had their dogs at their sides. Historians agree that none of those, including George Washington, who were on the original Crossing, too had the privilege of having their dogs along.
We had many dignitaries on our trips and some (well known) who came along in the boats, including Jack Kelly, The Olympic Medal Rowing Champion...and the brother of Grace Kelly.
Even he...in his George Washington role, did not have his dog along on our Crossing event. We were too busy being original and trying to make the drama an exact ORIGINAL for the thousands of spectators (children and their dogs too) who were all huddled along the (usually) snowy banks of the Delaware.
During that time period of my being a part of the Christmas Day ceremony my homebound dog was a fox red Pomeranian...who , like the dreaded Hessians of the Revolutionary War time period, also originally hailed from a German province. In our re-enactment ceremony our trip stopped at the old colonial house on the Jersey side of the Delaware. We all were met with "Huzza's" from the waiting spectators and the roar of the crowd on the Pennsylvania side (because we had successfully) landed on the New Jersey side and were given hot cider and ginger cookies and greetings from our family members and trusted dogs, Jake always greeted me with his cold paws and panting and warm heart.
Now we could stop the acting and enjoy the fun. Fortunately we did not have to be a part of the original army that had to march the many miles in the darkness down the icy roads, hoping that the local dogs didn't alert the local farmers and Tories of their presence; and warn the Hessians in Trenton.
I doubt that any of the Hessians in Trenton who were caught sleeping off the "Tis The Season To Be Jolly" parties had a Pomeranian like my Jake; because if they did , and he was like my old Jake....the history books would have had a different ending?
My old buddy Jake passed across the Golden Bridge the last year I was in the Crossing program. It was a sad day - I really miss Jake and I still miss the rush of dressing up as General Mercer and Crossing the Delaware.
But now we have Sir Charles and Lord Oliver---two wonderful and colorful and playful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels...and they both set by our sides when we set at this special spot on the Delaware and reminisce about those special "Tis The Season To be Jolly" days. The irony in this story is that we traded a Pomeranian with the same homeland as the dreaded Hessians for two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with the same homeland as the evil Red Coats who we also defeated.
The water along this spot in the winter can flow with icy chunks...and you can still see why the wide spot at the river here was a good place to cross the Delaware and why it would have been easy for the river to freeze solid allowing the dreaded Hessians to cross at this spot and attack Washington's army on a cold Christmas Night in 1776. The scenery at this spot is still somewhat original, except they now have a small steel bridge to allow passage across the Delaware River.
In the winter you can smell and watch the smoke that lifts from the chimneys of the McKonkey Ferry House--the Inn where George Washington visited and enjoyed some wine (and probably petted Mr. McKonkey's Tavern dog??) and watch the smoke curl above the frosted chimney of the old farm house on the Jersey side of the river (where I used to enjoy my cider while petting my old dog Jake on many old time Christmas Days.)
Today you will usually see many people walking the historic trails, but if you see an older couple with two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels...one a Blenheim and another a Tri Color setting by the river enjoying the scenery...you can stop and talk to them (us...)
....We can then tell you a whole lot more about Hessians and Pomeranians and the Battle of Trenton and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the Red Coats and some more exciting stories about Crossing the Delaware and General George Washington. We also have some special stories about Grace Kelly that Jack told us as we all sat around the campfire pretending to be revolutionary soldiers and drinking our hot cider and eating our ginger cookies.
I can tell you this one personal story about my Dad and Mom and their dog Happy who are from Munhall, PA and who all got their picture taken with George Washington ( Jack Kelly...)
My mother was so impressed with the scene ---and when she said to him..."so you are the brother of Grace Kelly?"
"No" he replied, "...I say Grace Kelly is my sister.... and that's a nice dog you have there...what kind of dog is it?
..And my mom's response was
"Happy is an all American mixed breed.²
...Enjoy your dogs---- especially when it's--
"Tis The Season To Be Jolly...."
A CALL TO ARMS
18 MEMBERS JOINED OUR NEW WASHINGTON CROSSING FAN CLUB IN JUST A FEW DAYS AND THE INTEREST IS GAINING. YOU CAN JOIN HERE
18 IS MAX LIMIT FOR A DURHAM BOAT ON CROSSING THE DELAWARE ATCHRISTMAS WHEN THOUSANDS LINE THE BANKS & HUNDREDS TRY TO PARTICIPATE & CAN'T. I JUST SET UP THIS FAN CLUB ON FACEBOOK AND IF IT WAS A REAL BOAT WE WOULD BE AT CAPACITY BUT THIS 5TH BOAT HAS NO LIMIT AND I HAVE SET A GOAL OF 2400 MEMBERS BY 2009 CHRISTMAS CROSSING DATE; THE NUMBER WASHINGTON HAD ON HIS INITIAL CROSSING IN 1776.
I'VE SUPPORTED THIS "EVENT SINCE 1974 AS OFFICER IN ACTION AND WRITER WITH PEN. IF YOU KNOW ANYONE INTERESTED PLEASE FORWARD OUR FAN CLUB WEB SITE INFO TO THEM; THE SITE ALSO HOUSES A HISTORICAL TOME ATTACHED WITH PICS/STORIES FROM BICENTENNIAL 1976 CROSSING.
JUSTICE O'CONNOR WROTE- ABOUT THIS TYPE OF LEARNED BEHAVIOR WE SUPPORT IN THIS WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE CHRISTMAS 1776 FAN
CLUB-IN THE WEB ARTICLE HERE
"I believe schools have an essential role in educating the country's young people for their place in a functioning democracy. We know that the work of our democracy depends on knowledge and learned behavior – it doesn't just happen – and the schools are where much of that teaching and learning has to take place. In recent years, civic learning – social studies – has been pushed aside, and two-thirds of 12th-graders scored below "proficient" on the last national civics assessment in 1998. We can't expect our democracy to perform well if students do not learn about basic concepts like checks and balances and the separation of powers among the three branches of government.
EVENTS SUCH AS WHAT OUR FAN CLUB REPRESENTS IS A "BOAT" THAT CAN FILL UP QUICKLY AND HELP TO REKINDLE YOUNG PEOPLE'S INTEREST AND FUEL THAT LANTERN OF LIBERTY SPIRIT IN OUR YOUTH FOR OUR FUNCTIONING DEMOCRACY AND TO HELP GUIDE THE PROCESS SHE MENTIONS. WORDS ARE ONE WAY BUT PUTTING IT OUT IN FRONT FOR ALL TO SEE IS LIKE THE STORY OF TOM SAWYER PAINTING THE FENCE.
"SHOW 'EM HOW MUCH FUN IT IS, AND THEN STAND BACK AND GIVE 'EM THE BRUSH."
HELP FILL OUR BOAT...