Friday morning, 28 April, Artist Preservation Group members Greg DiFranco, Tom Holz and myself gathered at Princeton Battlefield for an exclusive tour of the action that took place on 3 January, 1777. We were blessed with a bright, sun filled sky and unseasonably warm temperature. It was a stark contrast to the raw, freezing conditions experienced that the Continentals and British regulars had to contend with at the time of the battle.
Also there to meet us were Lindsey Morrison and Tom Moore of the Civil War Preservation Trust who were representing that organization’s Campaign 1776 effort to preserve key Revolutionary War sites. Princeton, where George Washington personally led the counter attack and miraculously survived a British volley, has been high on their priority list. My mission was to present them with a $10,000 donation on behalf of the Artist Preservation Group for the preservation effort for that site. As a lifelong New Jersey resident, it was a proud moment for me. As it was for Washington and his little army in the winter of 1776 and 1777, it was a near run thing but it appears that victory is at hand.
Roger Williams and John Mills were our tour guides on this day. Roger routinely conducts tours of the “Ten Crucial Days” which cover the dramatic events of the battles for Trenton and Princeton which saved the revolution. John is the manager at Princeton Battlefield. Armed with visual aids and a wealth of knowledge, they really did an outstanding job. Roger, who did most of the talking, made it easy to visualize the action as it unfolded. There were two clear highlights for me. Roger took us back behind the Clarke house (actually, it’s the front) into the woods where a trace of the unmapped road that Washington used to escape the British, under cover of darkness, and attack Princeton. What a thrill to walk in the footsteps of history! The second was the presentation of the check to Lindsey and Tom on Maxwell’s field where Washington led his charge, survived that volley and famously urged his troops to “Parade with us my brave boys!” Just a year ago, that site was under imminent threat of development. Not anymore!
Although graciously invited to lunch by the Civil War Trust folks, we three APG representatives had to take a rain check due to a tight schedule. Our next stop was the brand new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia for an APG sponsored tour. Having had a tour of the museum while it was under construction, I was very excited. In case you don’t know, the last thing they do is install the artifacts, so it was pretty empty that first time. The finished product did not disappoint! Spacious and elegant, the building is truly a multi-media experience. There are videos, touch screens, artifacts, artworks and super realistic life-sized mannequins at every turn. You feel as though you are interacting with this museum and not simply gawking at glass cased antiques with note cards. Don’t miss the Battle of Brandywine experience or the spectacular presentation of George Washington’s field tent. They somehow make this inanimate object spring to life. We were lucky enough to catch last show of the day.
You’d think that would be enough for one day. By now our group had grown to eleven and as the museum shut down, we took a short stroll to our 5:30 reservations at Positano Coast. This airy upscale Mediterranean themed restaurant is a favorite of our favorite bonvivant and man-about-town, Dennis Levy who organized our reservations. A muddled cucumber martini and short rib ragu over fresh pasta put a culinary exclamation point on my day! Being an APG member can be pretty sweet.
And this was all before the Miniature Figure Collectors of America (MFCA) show the following day on 29 April. We still had some energy left for shenanigans in the hospitality suite and the new show venue in Trevose, PA. The new venue shows promise and, overall, received very positive reviews.
A sense of accomplishment, camaraderie, and a little bit of fun is what the APG is all about.