George Washington Really Did Sleep There
MIKE PESCA, host:
Oh, hello there. Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We are always online at npr.org/bryantpark. Now, it comes to the part of the show where two very special things happen. One, I look to my left and see who's with me. It's Tricia McKinney.
PATRICIA MCKINNEY: Hello.
PESCA: And the second thing is I get to say a certain word and cue certain music. It's a very powerful thing. Like if I said the word hot, you might get hot, hot, hot. But instead, I'm going to say the word mouse. Oh, I thought we'd get Modest Mouse. Ramble!
(Soundbite of music)
PESCA: Ah, that is cool stuff. And as you know, due to the nature of The Ramble, sometimes we Ramble off the rails. Yesterday - this is a mistake. This is how it was reported at the time. You know, Barack Obama was said to have rejected a fist bump.
MCKINNEY: Yes, I do recall that story, yes.
PESCA: Dan Pashman loaded us with that information. It was going off a pool report, which turned out to be inaccurate. They have the video. The kid was not requesting a fist bump. The kid wanted Barack Obama to sign his fist with a magic marker and Barack Obama said it probably wouldn't be a good idea.
MCKINNEY: He was just trying to keep the kid from getting in trouble.
PESCA: Yeah, he even said, your mom wouldn't like that. And I know, this is in the why-is-this-news category, but we're clarifying. Tricia, why is what you're going to say now news?
MCKINNEY: Well, it's news because archeologists have found George Washington's boyhood home. That's news to me that it was lost.
MCKINNEY: I had no idea. But apparently, there's not a lot of historical evidence out there about George Washington's youth, so the archeologists are hopeful this could add some insight.
PESCA: Did he even have a youth? We don't know.
MCKINNEY: Well, you know, I assumed a youth had existed, but you know, who knew? So anyway, he was born in a place called Ferry Farm, which is a National Historic landmark.
PESCA: It's 50 miles south of Washington, D.C., which is ironic since it's named after him.
MCKINNEY: Yeah. Well, that wasn't there when - so anyway, they searched three difference sites. They finally found the root cellar and the bases of two chimneys at this place, so they put some stuff out. They found a lot of stuff like tea sets, wine bottles, but they didn't find any evidence of the cherry tree.
MCKINNEY: OK, so you know the whole George Washington childhood story?
MCKINNEY: You go right to the one story everybody's heard about George Washington...
(Soundbite of TV show "The Adventures from the Book of Virtues")
Unidentified Man #1: Legend has that when George Washington, our first president, was still a boy living on his family farm, his father received a wonderful gift.
Unidentified Man #2: This cherry tree is very, very special.
MCKINNEY: Yeah, so we all know what happened to that cherry tree. Supposedly, little George chopped it down, and when his father caught him, he said, I cannot tell a lie. I chopped it down. And you know, that's probably not true.
PESCA: Yeah. What's left out of that story is the preamble. On advice of counsel, I take the fifth.
MCKINNEY: And we'll have to put it on the blog later. This clip we played is from "The Book of Virtues" - that's a cartoon - and it shows this kind of murderous looking George Washington wielding a hatchet, chopping things down left and right.
PESCA: Yeah, father of our country, scourge of the cherry-tree community. With less than six weeks to go until the Olympic sailing regatta, China's Yellow Sea is turning green. The country's official news agency reports that 5,000 square miles of the sea off the coast of Qingdao are covered. It's a third of all coastal areas slated to be used in Olympic boating events. I've seen a picture. It's green. It doesn't look good. The International Herald Tribune cites media reports that say 20,000 people are participating in the cleanup effort. One hundred thousand tons of algae have been removed, and...
MCKINNEY: Have you seen the pictures?
MCKINNEY: They're, like, dripping in green fuzz. It's not appetizing-looking.
PESCA: It's not very helpful to Olympic training. I hope, you know, it'll be a race against time.
MCKINNEY: So, OK, so a county courthouse in Pulaski, Virginia, apparently, is now nearly free of fleas.
PESCA: The word "nearly" there bothers me.
MCKINNEY: That's pretty funny.
PESCA: I had a court date in Pulaski.
MCKINNEY: So, apparently, people at the court were complaining of flea bites. So, they did a search, and they found a strong odor underneath the floor, and there was a dead possum there covered in fleas. Mystery solved.
PESCA: The possum, yeah. The Brits call it jelly. We call it Jell-O. Here's what it sounds like.
(Soundbite of Jell-O shaking)
PESCA: There's always room for sounds of Jell-O.
MCKINNEY: That is super disturbing.
PESCA: Yup. And that recording, by sound artist Douglas Murphy, is part of the London Festival of Architecture's Jelly Competition. It was actually one of the entries. That's a whole entry. St. Paul's Cathedral, made entirely of orange-colored Jell-O, you can see that there. There's also a red bench made of the same stuff, a red bench made of Jell-O. I don't know if you could sit on it. It might not provide the proper lumbar support. The winner will be announced at a jelly banquet tomorrow night. Also on the agenda, jelly wrestling. One University College of London architecture student says the festivities aren't just about the taste. Quote, "Jelly has a long and noble history, being a favorite of Anton Careme, who worked for Napoleon, King George IV and Tsar Nicholas I." He was later asked, you are Mary, Queen of Scots? And answered, I am.
MCKINNEY: I want to point out, I believe this entire architecture-Jell-O consortium was sponsored by a Jell-O company.
PESCA: That's fine, as long as we get that sound somewhere. And that it is your Ramble. A link to those stories and more on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.
MCKINNEY: Wait, wait, I want to end this. Can I end this, Mike? Because I've always, ever since day one, wanted to do this to end the Ramble. Please hit it.
(Soundbite of song "Ramblin'")
Mr. JACK ELLIOT: (Singing) Well, I'm ramblin', ramblin', ramblin', ramblin', ramblin', ramblin', ramblin', ramblin'.
PESCA: Wow, thank you for being courteous, kind and forgiving.
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