Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

September 23, 2010

Washington, D.C., 1948

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Washington, D.C., the capital of our nation.  Congestion on sidewalks, streets filled with vehicles, tourist buses, and media events dominating.  It is certainly a busy place.  And with all this, crime has been a constant problem in our nation’s capital.

But, I can speak of one who knew it in quite different days.  The time was 1948, and it was my first trip to this remarkable city.  Our county school district sponsored a trip to Washington, D.C. for those who had served during the school year as a school safety patrol.  I had been fortunate to be one of those students. 

I was completing seventh grade.  With several others from my school, we joined with other seventh graders from across our county.  Every day was a new experience and adventure for me.

We left by train on an early Sunday morning out of Atlanta.  I remember the multitude of parents that gathered to watch us depart.  I found a seat on the train where I believed I could see everything that happened as we traveled to Washington.  It was obviously a long trip.

I was surprised . . . and a little embarrassed . . . that Sunday morning.  On the train was Congressman James Davis.  He was a long time friend of my grandparents and parents.  He came back to the car where I was seated.  He greeted me and talked with all the other students.  Then, he pulled out his Bible.  He told the students that we were going to have a Sunday School lesson.  That was fine, until he told why this particular car would have a Sunday School lesson.  He had learned that I had a perfect attendance record in Sunday School, and he wanted to teach a lesson so that I could continue to have a perfect record.  Perfect attendance did not necessarily mean it had to be in my regular class at church.  Imagine a seventh grade student gaining that attention!  It was not really desired!

We arrived at Grand Central Station.  It was just a large train station with lots of marble and stone.  It was relatively quiet compared to these days with all the concession and eating areas, along with souvenir stands, and tourist groups. 

We stayed in a large hotel.  Four fellows to a room, and no sponsor in each room.  There was a trust factor that we would not leave the room.  Not many of us desired to be on our own in this large city.  But I was soon to learn that it was not “as large” as I had assumed.  There were wide streets, but not congested with traffic.  And there were not that many people walking up and down the sidewalks.  It was a relatively quiet place.

One of the most memorable things was how safe it was.  One evening, I had lagged behind my roommates as they left for dinner.  There was a restaurant about two blocks away where we ate our meals.  We had a book of tickets and we could go there on our own to eat.  That evening, I walked by myself down those Washington, D.C. streets all alone.  There was no fear or concern.  Can you imagine such days?

We visited all the sights of the city.  My favorite was the Federal Bureau of Investigation building.  We received a tour of things a young boy dreamed of seeing.  What raised my interest was the fact that my regular Sunday School teacher was a FBI agent.  I believe I had a dream of being one also when I would hear some of his stories!

The biggest disappointment on the trip was that the group voted to go to the zoo instead of the Smithsonian Institute.  I remember almost yelling, “The zoo?  We can go to Grant Park Zoo any time!”  But my yelling didn’t help.  We went to the zoo!

I think of the vast changes in that city.  But I have seen such changes in most cities!  Change comes.  We cannot stop it.  Most change is good . . . some not so good, of course.  It would be a tough decision to make if we could have the authority to make change or stop change.  I’m just glad I’m not in charge of such!

One thing that never changes!  My God and His love!  That is the constant in my life, my world, and my universe!

 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)  “I the Lord do not change.”  (Malachi 3:6)



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