I think I officially met Marc Houseman at the Historical Museum. I introduced myself and asked him to help me write a historical entry for the blog, he said yes right away. His knowledge of Washington and its history never ceases to amaze me, and we are lucky to have him as the Museum Director. Marc has a fascination with cemeteries, the Three Stooges, clean desks, and history, of course. Want to know more about him? You are in luck 🙂
The Morning: I might be classified as a morning person; to me, the day is half-shot by 10:00 a.m. For ten years I worked in the funeral business which often meant being called to work at all hours of the night, sometimes all night long. Then, it wasn’t so great having to get up early and be at work the next morning! However, with the job at the museum, I cannot get here soon enough! The only drawback is that the volunteers figured out a long time ago that I arrive at work early, so my former “free time” is often eaten up. Literally, I’m at work two hours early each day. What a dope!?!?
Marc at work. Pay attention to how clean his desk is!
The Coffee: I don’t understand the fascination with coffee at all. To me, it tastes like crap unless you load it with sugar and cream. Then and only then is it tolerable. I drink coffee maybe twice a year, if it’s offered to me and there are plenty of enhancements nearby! As a kid, my great-aunts would let me try a teaspoon of coffee now and then just to see if I liked it. Of course I was curious. I must have made some pretty awful faces, as I can remember them getting a good laugh out of it!
Some people think I’m strange because I don’t drink alcohol at all, but I have my personal reasons. In my family there were problems with alcoholism that led to two suicides. As a young boy, I vowed to never be tempted and I have stayed true to my convictions. I don’t knock those who choose to drink and I simply ask the same consideration in return. My drink of choice is Sundrop (insert salute to New Haven here), though I am attempting to back off on my soda consumption. I was raised on Dr. Pepper and still enjoy one now and then. Nothing better on a hot day than an icy Dr. Pepper. I also enjoy iced tea. Can’t get into water and never would have believed as a kid that as an adult my contemporaries would actually pay money for a bottle of water!
Marc at the Vintage Fashion show organized by the Historical Society. Pay attention, he’s surrounded by ladies. Must be the hat 😉
The Food: Most foods are great and I like a wide variety. However, I tend to be a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I usually avoid yellow cheeses which I dislike, and many nuts I find too bitter to enjoy. Favorite meal? Roast beef, mashed potatoes and buttery cabbage. Yum! Or should I say, burp. Pizza in any format is way up there on my list. Homemade ice cream is probably one thing that escaped from heaven and found its way to Earth. I do love fruits and vegetables, oh, a homegrown tomato sliced and put between two pieces of bread with a couple of strips of bacon. Wow. You know, a b.l.t. without the L.
The Shops: For a guy who’s not very handy, I like strolling around in hardware stores and lumber yards. I don’t know what most of the tools are for, but I’d like to own them. Makes sense huh? Otherwise, I’m a guy, am I really supposed to enjoy shopping? Ha ha. I love my friends at Four Seasons Florist, the Art Center, Fischer’s Food Shop, Schroeder’s Drug Store, etc. I do visit the “out of town” stores (out on the highway) but in general do very little shopping.
Only when I dress up do I bother with accessories, but then I can go overboard. I like cuff links (yes, you can still buy them or better yet, go vintage!), lapel pins and a silk handkerchief in my breast pocket. I love pocket watches, but only use one when I’m in historical costume as a local character from the past (usually John B. Busch). Tragic that tie clasps have gone out of vogue but I’m certain they will make a comeback soon. Also, I’m glad to see vests making a return to the fashion scene. In the winter time I enjoy sweaters, and old-fashioned cardigans or sweater-vests are favorites. I almost never wear shorts (make your own jokes please), but lately have donned them for riding my bike on the riverfront trail.
Marc and Bridgette Epple, all dressed up for a Murder Mystery Dinner. They can accessorize well, don’t you think 😉 (Photo: Facebook)
The Place: My usual choice for lunch is Marquart’s Landing; they’re friendly, fast and put out a good meal. If I really want to spoil myself I go to the Blue Duck. Their food is unbeatable; fresh and delicious without exception. Cowan’s is an old favorite and the perfect spot for comfort food. I’m not much of a night owl, but if going out for dinner I find Aldo’s hard to beat. Cannelloni in white sauce…………..h-e-a-v-e-n………. Or, Rothschild’s liver and onions. Please, yes, and thank you.
Your Personal Space:
I’m very often teased about my clean desk top. The adage, “a cluttered desk is a sign of a busy person” should be re-written as, “a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind”. I try to work on one thing at a time and allow enough time to start and finish each project without having to leave it on my desk overnight. I was born this way (thanks mom) and suppose I’ll always be a neat-nick. I tell people that my clean desk top represents the fact that I work hard at keeping it that way. Plus, having a window into my office from the museum keeps me on my toes! At home, I have a reclining wing-backed chair that I’ve nearly worn out. Next to it is a small table upon which rests a coaster for whatever I’m drinking, the remote controls, perhaps a book and always one of those plastic-dental-floss-things for nighttime pickin’. Sorry.
I could have used this as a “Where in Washington?” photo. This is the light switch at Marc’s office at the Historical Museum. Why the fascination with the Three Stooges? Marc jokes that he was raised by them. As a child he would watch them every morning before going to school, while his mom was preparing breakfast. They were part of his routine then and now.
The Friends: The majority of my friends are friends I have made through working at the museum or other history-related ventures. Though I do have some near-lifelong friends whom I don’t see often enough. I keep up with almost no one I went to school with but do keep up with some of those I’ve met through the years since then. The guys around the museum tease me about my “harem”. The harem is a group of women that I sometimes select from for lunch dates or day trips here and there. Without my harem I am nothing!
Marc and some of the members of the Franklin County Cemetery Society excavating a tombstone from Krog park, what used to be the Bassora Cemetery. (Photo: Facebook)
Work is truly my life and in case you haven’t heard or speculated on your own, I have the greatest job in the county. Honestly, I get paid to do what I love and for what has been a life-long hobby, local history. How much better can it get? Not that I’m paid that well, had to throw that in, but to go to work each day knowing that I’ll be helping people find long-lost relatives, assisting someone who is doing research on their old building, or literally trying to help someone identify the ghost that haunts their house, I’m guaranteed a fun day. My job is very rewarding and I’ve helped people to smile and a few to cry (in a good way). I’m blessed to have this position and hope to stay here until retirement or a visit from the grim reaper, whichever comes first.
Entering the Eitzen Crypt at Hermann City Cemetery, which hasn’t been opened since 1928. Marc is truly in love with his job. Can you blame him? 🙂(Photo: Facebook)
At home: So rarely am I at home but when there I enjoy the quietness (when it is quiet L) and the knowledge of the fact that I was able to buy my dream home (the Thias House). I enjoy having dinner at home followed by an evening of watching an old movie on Turner or something on the history channel or food network (even though I can’t even boil water, I love to watch cooking shows). We have no children or pets, just the way I wanted it! Lucky me. Sometimes I tinker around the house and though, as I mentioned earlier I’m not very handy, I am an excellent painter (no, I don’t want to paint your dining room) and love to freshen things up with paint now and then. I enjoy being outside if there is something to cut down, mow over or chop up. Planting plants or nurturing a garden is not for me.
Downtown: Living downtown is great. My doctor told me to ride a bicycle, so now I make the short journey to the riverfront and ride the trail several times a week. We used to buy our groceries at Droege’s L. Sad to see that go away. We love the downtown area though I wish more of it had been preserved. One of the downfalls of my job is knowing what treasures we have sacrificed for (gulp) parking lots, etc. But it’s great to see all of the events that bring people downtown and comforting to know that many of the old standbys are still there waiting for our business. Many of our older structures have been rehabilitated and that’s the real answer to keeping downtown viable. We truly are fortunate to have so many amenities. The post office, farmers market, Amtrak station; the common thread in these outstanding projects is the reutilization of a historic structure. Would a train ride seem as fun if you had to stand in one of those glass boxes? Probably not. Was the post office attractive and welcoming before the renovation? Uh, no. To me, the key is to look at our downtown area as a jigsaw puzzle, knowing that the removal of any piece of that puzzle negatively affects the image you’re striving to create. The loss of key components is detrimental and, I’m sorry, but replacing old with new is not, in my opinion, progress. Real progress is taking the time to use what our forefathers have given us, making it better or keeping it viable by maintaining or rehabilitating it. There lies the real challenge but the rewards are great and very long-lasting.
Marc and I will continue collaborating on “History Connection” and bringing back to life some of the history of Washington and the area. You can find Marc at the Historical Museum and keep up with all the events he attends here.