The summer after my second grade of elementary school, my mom picked me up from swimming class and took me to an unexpected destination – a theater. I was going to see my first musical. I can still remember sitting in the audience, waiting for the curtains to raise, listening to the band tune up. Then there was the overture – something magical was going to occur. Next thing I knew, there was a circle of light on the curtain, and a man standing there who bellowed – “By God I have had this congress…” It was John Adams, and the musical was 1776.
I was transfixed, exhilarated throughout the entirety of the musical. When I left, I wanted to BE John Adams. I walked around with a stick, mimicking his cane, and bellowed a lot. “Good God sir,” I said to a perplexed restaurant greeter who had informed my father that there would be an hour wait for dinner, “God made the earth in just seven days!” My father apologized and walked me away from the man.
I was so interested in history. I wanted to know everything I could about John Adams. As a Christmas present a couple years later I got the hardback book, “The Adams Chronicles,” and read it as if it were a sacred book. The problem was, history never seemed as interesting in school as it had seemed on that stage or even on the pages of the books I read. In school, it was inexplicable, a lot of dates and too little time to ponder the main events.
I still love history, though. I traveled the country recently and visited each official presidential library in America. (And wrote about it in Chasing History: One Man’s Road Trip Through the Presidential Libraries.) I love visiting historical sights…when they are well presented. Unfortunately, every time I brought visitors or family on a tour in my home city of Philadelphia, I was disappointed. Here I was, in the most historically exciting city in America, and I always left these tours feeling deflated. A couple years back I applied to be a tour guide at one of them, and I discovered why I felt so let-down. The people they hired were actors, and they gave their lines with the same feigned enthusiasm that we hear at Universal Studio Tours.
I am happy to say that I have decided to do something about it. This summer will see the advent of a new walking tour company – Bow Tie Tours. The tours are going to be given by guides, including myself, who are fascinated and excited about American history and who know how to make history interesting.
Our tour begins on May 23d, Memorial Day Weekend.
We are excited to share our city with you. Please look at the “About” Tab to see a little more about us. We hope to meet you and share our city with you.