Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My 60th Birthday

On December 22, 2012 I reached the age of sixty.  This was a milestone and I decided to spend the day with Judi visiting the Longwood Gardens which is about forty-five minutes from our home in Philadelphia, PA.  The gardens are beautiful and visiting Longwood is a nice escape from our day-to-day lives. 

Longwood used to be the 1,077-acre estate of Pierre S. du Pont.  Ferdinand Lundberg argued in his book The Rich and the Super-Rich that the du Pont’s were the most affluent family in the nation.  This was because the du Pont’s not only owned DuPont Chemical Corporation, they also owned an enterprise known as General Motors.  This enormous wealth not only built the Longwood Gardens, but just about ten minutes from Longwood is the 979-acre estate that was owned by Pierre’s relative Henry Francis du Pont.  The gardens on this estate are called Winterthur.

Located at Longwood is one of the largest conservatories in the world.  There are rooms in the conservatory that house plants from every climate that include: tropical, desert, and temperate.  We happened to be there to view the dinner table the du Pont’s would have had when Pierre was alive.  A photo of that holiday table is pictured above and it might have had about 40 place settings.

One thing the official tour neglects to mention is that every penny that the du Pont family owned, and continues to own, came from the profits derived from thousands of auto and chemical workers.  Without the day-to-day toil of all these workers the du Pont’s never would have been able to amass the fortunes they enjoy.

Finding a place to eat

After visiting Longwood, Judi suggested that we have dinner at a restaurant in Kennett Square which is just a few minutes from the gardens.  The restaurants in this town appeared to be pretentious and over-priced.  It was a cold day and for a few minutes we didn’t know where we’d be eating.

Then, I had the idea of visiting a local bookstore and thought that someone there might know about a good place to eat.  We discovered that this bookstore was a voluntary venture where the books are donated and the profits go to a charity.  I saw a hardcover biography of Franz Fanon that I wanted.  The original price was $40 and the bookstore price was $4.  When the sales people learned that I was celebrating my birthday, they gave me the book as a gift.

The proprietors of the bookstore recommended a Mexican restaurant, Taqueria Moroleon, which was about fifteen minutes from Kennett Square.  Driving to the restaurant we passed the mushroom farms and hot-houses. 

The Kennett Square area is the center of mushroom farming in the United States.  Due to the insanity of the capitalist system, workers from Mexico travel to Kennett Square to pick mushrooms, working under horrendous conditions.  This is so we can have mushrooms in our pizzas, omelets, and pasta sauce.  The Spanish word for mushrooms is championes.

In the middle of these mushroom fields was a truck depot.  We saw eighteen-wheel tractor-trailers that, no doubt, carry those little mushroom boxes we see in the supermarket. 

The Taqueria Moroleon was an excellent suggestion.  The food was as good as any Mexican food I’ve ever had.  Unlike the pretentious restaurants in Kennett Square, the crowd at the Taqueria appeared to be working-class which made us feel right at home.

Well, this is how I celebrated sixty years on the planet earth.  While we both enjoyed the day, clearly there needs to be a lot of work to make this a world where there is human dignity for all.

You can see my photos of Longwood at:


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