Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Gadsby's Tavern"

Gadsby's Tavern 

Candle's flame flickers,
silver & crystal shine,
close my eyes,
run hand along deep-set windowsill,

          imagine Washington, Jefferson, Madison,
          Adams, Monroe doing the same.

Spy moon drowsing
upon tree's heavy limb,
shedding light this dark night,
not a star in sight,

        yet an old friend, suspended, arms uplifted,
        winks back through square panes of glass.

Wonder if room eight's
mysterious haunt
watches us toast to love;
for time we've been blessed.

         tragically hers ran out.

Past resides here,
tells stories
to those who feel them;
content with endings happy,

       endings sad;

Yet Future nestles here as well;
creaking, groaning floorboards
record through dawn and dark
every chair leg that slides back,
every napkin dropped upon empty plate;

      marvel we're part of the narrative
      witnessed within these red brick walls.

by Margaret Bednar, November 18, 2015

A poem reflection on my dining at a historic tavern in Alexandria, VA. (just outside of Washington D.C.)   I also just got back from a trip to NYC - specifically Brooklyn to visit my son.

This is linked with "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Tuesday Platform"

The tavern in Alexandria, VA was built around 1785, and the City Hotel in 1792.  John Gadsby leased the property from 1796-1808 and it is his name that is today attached to this historic location.  More info on Wikipedia

HERE is the link to what I copied & pasted below (and there are a few photos).

In September 1816, a young couple arrived by boat from the Caribbean to the port in Old Town Alexandria. They docked off of Prince Street, where the man hired a carriage to transport them to Gadsby’s Tavern, or what was then known as the City Hotel, the center of social life in early Alexandria since the 1780s, when Royal Street was part of the country’s first national highway.
According to legend, the young couple was, in appearance at least, well-heeled, and the woman was very beautiful. But she was also very ill. Her husband took room number 8 at Gadsby’s and carried her in. He jarred the door behind them, and as he did so, the number 8 slid sideways—the symbol for infinity.
Frantic with worry, the man called for a doctor and two nurses. When they arrived to see the patient, however, the man refused to give his name or his companion’s to the attendants or to Mr. Gadsby, the owner of the hotel.
Soon rumors were flying around Old Town about the woman’s identity, and they continue to this day. Some say she was the daughter of Aaron Burr, a famous but none-too-popular politician of his day whose daughter Theodosia was presumed dead, having been lost at sea years earlier, but there were whispers that Theodosia had run away with a lover and her earlier disappearance was a cover-up. Others speculated that she was the daughter of an English lord eloping with her lover, a commoner. Some people even believe that she was Napoleon Bonaparte in disguise.
Whatever her identity, the woman languished in pain for three weeks, succumbing to her illness on October 14, 1816. Just before she died, her husband asked Mr. Gadsby and those attending her to come to her bedside. Her fate was inevitable, so the couple asked those gathered to swear an oath. In that oath, they swore they would never reveal the identity of either the man or the woman.
The woman was buried at St. Paul’s Cemetery, just south of Duke Street. Her husband paid for the elaborate tabletop tombstone and the inscription of the long, melancholy love letter inscribed upon the stone. The epitaph begins, “To the Memory of a Female Stranger…”
This is where the story gets even more peculiar. Immediately after the woman’s death, the man traveling with her left town without paying for any of the expenses they had incurred, including the room at Gadsby’s, the medical care his wife received, and the burial and funeral.
Some people even say that the female stranger also “lives on” at Gadsby’s as a ghost, haunting its halls and rooms. Just a few years ago a young student came home from college and took a summer job as a server at Gadsby’s.  On her first night working at the restaurant, she went to the kitchen to pick up her customers’ meals. She positioned the plates on her arms, turned around, and the Female Stranger was staring her in the face. She spoke to the girl and vanished. Terrified, the server screamed, dropped the plates and fled the restaurant.
Other people say they’ve seen the Female Stranger at Gadsby’s in room number 8 and at parties in the ballroom. But does she really haunt the building? You’ll have to take the Ghost and Graveyard Tour to decide for yourself.
Alexandrians were furious. But the man had been quite clever: the only people who knew his identity, or that of the Female Stranger, had sworn an oath that they would keep their identities secret. Thus his debts would go unpaid, and the mystery lives on today.

1 comment:

Kerry O'Connor said...

Past resides here,
tells stories to those who feel them..

These lines say a lot to me about the art of the poet - one sensitive enough to pick up the vibes of human existence and translate them into abstract words on paper. Thanks for sharing.