Missing Mendes Cohen

Posted on August 5th, 2015 by

I love walking into the Feldman Gallery and looking at so many movie posters from the past .  I love the way that Joanna and our interns have delved into research to seek out the images of the movie theaters that actually showed the movies during the 1930-1960’s.  I have enjoyed listening to our visitors reminisce of the past but I do have to admit….I am missing the Amazing  Mendes Cohen!   I miss not seeing Mendes’ face in the Feldman Gallery, both donning a turban and also posing  as a young man in the early 19th century.  I miss not hearing the piano music of Charles -Valentin Alkan, as you enter the gallery; one of the first Jewish composers to incorporate Jewish melodies to his music.  I miss the puzzle pieces and watching groups of students working together to put puzzle pieces in place.  I see Flat Mendes every day- but I still miss the Amazing Mendes Cohen in my life at the JMM.

This past weekend- my hubby and I decided to play tourist in Baltimore in the hope that I could get “my fix” of Mendes Cohen. On Sunday we started our day at the Farmer’s Market underneath the Jones Falls Expressway.  After buying two coffees, pastry, and two kinds of string beans; we headed north to Mount Vernon.  In particular, I wanted to climb the Washington Monument which was rededicated on July 4, 2015; 200 years after the initial cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1815.  I wanted to see the building where Mendes and the famous Cohen brothers were instrumental in the state – funded lottery business that helped to raise the money to build the first monument dedicated to the first President of the United States, George Washington. I wanted to see some sort of mention of Mendes Cohen at the monument.

Washington Monument, 1890

Washington Monument, 1890

Robert Mills is credited with the design of the structure of the Washington Monument.  I understood that the citizens of Baltimore were particularly proud to erect this monument to Washington in light of their recent role in securing American liberty during the Battle of Baltimore, a turning point in the War of 1812.  Baltimoreans were also proud that the monument was built of local white marble, from quarries north of the city.

I was excited to begin my 160 foot climb to the top.   I thought it was interesting to see how the bricks were laid on their sides in a circular ring as we hiked up the steps.

Washington Monument bricks - circular staircase

Washington Monument bricks – circular staircase

I also thought it was interesting  to see how narrow the space was and I understood that the staff at the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy only allows five people to climb the monument at any given time during tours.

As we continued our climb up the narrow steps,  I was happy to see a marker dated 1818 noting that we had climbed 106 feet.

1818 marker denoting 106 feet

That’s a lot of steps!

I also noticed some graffiti where someone had written “1908” in black on the walls.  By 1829, the main column of the monument was completed, and the statue of Washington, sculpted by the Italian artist Henrico Causici, was raised to the top.  As we were getting closer to the top, I was excited to see the view- and I wondered if Mendes ever climbed the steps to the top and saw the spectacular view of Mount Vernon Place.

When you get to the top of the monument, you do get a chance to see Baltimore from all directions north, east, west and south.  However, you must stay inside and behind the glass to take your pictures….. a bit disappointing.   At the top, you begin to understand how the Washington Monument quickly became an important symbol of the city and state of Maryland.  President John Quincy Adams, who assisted in composing the text of the bronze inscriptions on the monument’s base outlining the key events in Washington’s life, dubbed Baltimore “The Monumental City.”

Images taken at the top of the Washington Monument

View From the Top

As we climbed down, I realized how lucky we were to have had the opportunity to climb to the top.  I am certain the citizens living in Baltimore  in the early 19th century  were in awe of this impressive structure built and dedicated to the nation’s first president. It was fun to imagine Mendes Cohen wandering the grounds where the monument was built in the early 19th century. The structure is a wonderful testament to the builders of Baltimore and a beautiful place for citizens to gather and enjoy all that Baltimore has to offer.

Kelly Suredam Potter poses at the Washington Monument

The wonderful Kelly Suredam Potter

I want to thank JMM Museum Educator, Kelly Suredam Potter, who also works at the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy for telling me about the opportunity to climb the monument.  It was a lot of fun to climb this iconic landmark as well as try to appease my longing to connect with the Amazing Colonel Mendes I. Cohen.  Long Live Mendes!

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Sum-Sum Summertime!

Posted on June 3rd, 2015 by

Memorial Day is officially behind us and that means it’s summertime!  I read recently that Maryland beaches are probably some of the best in the country, surrounded by water from both the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  There are so many vantage points throughout the state where one can see beautiful sunsets.

Capturing the View

Capturing the View

Last weekend, my hubby and I went on a “road trip” to the Eastern shore. We did not take our usual path across the Bay Bridge.  Instead, we headed north to Chesapeake City in Cecil County and then drove directly south through the counties on the eastern shore along the Chesapeake Bay.  I had a mission in mind, I wanted to see the infamous, Tolchester Beach, the place where many spent hot summer days in the late 19th and early 20th century.  In its hey-day, Tolchester was a beach destination that had had hotels, restaurants, and games, picnics, horse-racing and an amusement park with a merry-go-round and a roller coaster. The steamship lines ran from 1877 through the early 1950’s to Tolchester until the construction of the Bay Bridge, enabling people to cross the Chesapeake by car.

Welcome to Tolchester!

Welcome to Tolchester!

I first heard about Tolchester Beach in one of the monologues of Ida Rehr, one of the JMM’s living history performances.  According to Ida Rehr, you could only get to Tolchester in the early days by steamship ferries that crossed the Chesapeake Bay. Part of Ida’s story includes reminiscing about the picnic lunch that she took on the trip – fried chicken wrapped in waxed paper.

I asked my own relatives if they recalled going to Tolchester.  My Aunt Naomi recalled that she along with my father and grandparents went to Tolchester many times.  They would leave in the morning and come back home around dark.  Aunt Naomi recalled my grandparents rushing in the car to get to the docks on Pratt Street, so not to miss the ferry. My grandmother loved the trip on the ferry and always prepared a picnic lunch for the day trip to the eastern shore.  The trip took about an hour.  My aunt recalled the sandy beaches, even though she was not allowed to go swimming.  She also remembered that my grandmother broke her wrist when she slipped on the deck of the ferry because of the rain.

From the Museum Collections - Edward Rosenfeld’s relatives at the Tolchester beach, c. 1935. JMM 2000.72.29

From the Museum Collections – Edward Rosenfeld’s relatives at the Tolchester beach, c. 1935. JMM 2000.72.29

Today, Tolchester Beach is just a memory and there is nothing visible that would allow one to imagine the vibrant place that it was during the 19th and 20th centuries. .  From the eastern shore, one can see the western shore’s skyline making Baltimore, Middle River and Dundalk seem like such a short distance away.  Today, there is a marina at Tolchester along with a tiki bar.  There were people on the beach enjoying the views.  In fact, I was not the only person trying to imagine the place of yesteryear. I met a friend from high school (who I had not seen in 40 years).  She and her hubby took their speedboat to Tolchester for the day.  She had also heard about Tolchester back in its hey-day and was looking for sea glass, hoping to find some beautiful treasures along the eastern shores of the Chesapeake.

Ilene and Deborah

Ilene and Deborah

We had a great day trip we had and I loved seeing and learning about Tolchester Beach!  Definitely worth the trip!

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Warm Fuzzy Notes!

Posted on April 15th, 2015 by

Nothing gives me the “warm fuzzies” more than receiving a package filled with “thank you” notes from students that visit the Jewish Museum of Maryland on school field trips. I love the way children express themselves… they allow the reader to know exactly how they feel… using emotion, honesty and humor.  Please enjoy some of the precious notes from third graders  from The Calverton School in Calvert County and fourth graders from Temple Adas Shalom from Havre de Grace in Harford County.

A Warm Fuzzy!

A Warm Fuzzy!

“Dear Jewish Museum,

Thank you for the amazing tour.  I thought the synagogues were awesome.  Hebrew is an amazing language.  I also loved the scavenger hunt.  Thank you for everything.

Sincerely, Kylie”   – The Calverton School

 

“Dear Jewish Museum,

Thank you for showing me all about immigrants.  I loved the synagogue and scavenger hunt.  When you showed me the church, I lit up!  Thank you Jewish Museum!”

Check out that artwork.

Check out that artwork.

“Dear Jewish Museum,

Thank you for taking us into a synagogue.   Also, thank you for showing us matza.  Thank you for having us wear a yarmulke.  Sincerely, Steven”   – The Calverton School

 

“Dear Jewish Museum,

Thank you for letting my school come to your interesting museum.  I liked the scavenger hunt.  I also liked when Ida Rosen came.  Things got super, duper interesting.  Love, Baliee” – The Calverton School

A Whole Passel of  Warm Fuzzies!

A Whole Passel of Warm Fuzzies!

“Dear Jewish Museum,

Thank you for showing us the synagogues.  Thank you for showing us the actor Ida Rosen.  That was a great act.  Thank you for letting us have a scavenger hunt in the museum.  It was fun experiencing more about immigrants.

Love, Damani” – The Calverton School

 

“Thank You So Much!  Thank you so much for showing us around the two synagogues.  They were really cool and interesting and pretty!  That was the best field trip ever!

From, Eliana J.“  – Temple Adas Shalom

 

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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