The Angel of the Ladies Who Lunch

Exciting news, readers – tomorrow I’m going to leave the confines of my little cottage here for the first time since the heat wave began a week ago. I’m meeting up with some coworkers in a charming place in NJ called Bordentown.

Bordentown, a charming little village dating from colonial times and a former ” hotbed of revolutionary fervor” has had it’s share of famous residents including revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine, Joseph Bonaparte the brother of the emperor of France and of course, my beloved Clara Barton. We’ve got lunch reservations at the Farnsworth House and then a 3:00 appointment to meet a docent from the Bordentown Historical Society, who will give the four of us a private tour of the Clara Barton Schoolhouse.

Clara, you know, founded the first public school in NJ, proving that a privately funded schooling at an exclusive academy was not the only workable education model, that a public education system could work as well. We four heath care industry employees are panting with excitement over this. Our Outlook mailboxes are crammed with exclamation points, a punctuation mark I generally disapprove of but have made an exception for in this case.

Anyway, there’s no fee for admission or for the tour. So here’s the question: do I tip the docent? Offer a donation to the historical society? Leave a 5 on Clara’s desk? What is the etiquette here? I need to know before 3pm tomorrow, please. Thank you, internet.


Interesting facts about Clara Barton. (All facts about Clara Barton are interesting to me – these are not even the most interesting ones, they’re just the ones I learned this week.):

  • Clara Barton’s christened name was Clarissa.
  • She was a teacher by training, but not a nurse. 😦
  • Although this might be the best known likeness of Clara Barton, this is the one she authorized as the one she wished to be remembered by.
  • eBay is positively overflowing with Clara Barton items – stamps, coins, Halloween costumes, trading cards, dolls, photographs, chess pieces and biographies written for adolescents.

Clara Barton dolls for sale on eBay

Clara Barton dolls for sale on eBay

Clara Barton dolls for sale on eBay

Yeah … I was with the program right up until that last one.  She was the Angel of the Battlefield, not the Angel of the Peroxide Bottle. Wouldn’t it be great if those S’Mores ornament people came up with a Clara Barton?


8 thoughts on “The Angel of the Ladies Who Lunch

  1. Another quick note: I totally had that Madame Whatever doll at top right (in the grey dress with white pinafore). My father’s mother bought her for me, but I wasn’t ever allowed to play with her. I wonder where she got to?

  2. I go with donation too. I’m gonna bet they have a box right there in the school where you can leave it.

    When I look at the likeness she wanted to be remembered by… all I can think is holy cats that woman had A LOT of hair! I’m rather envious of that – especially how nicely it was done.

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