I had a very special traveling companion on my trip to D.C./Maryland/dipping into Virginia/Stalled in St. Louis/Fin. Dear Mr. Peek-A-Boo Radley consented to accompany me on my grand adventures. It’s nice to have a traveling companion, because then you can take pictures of THEM, rather then the alternative – pictures of YOU [me, that is].

For the Fourth of July holiday, Peek-A-Boo thought he’d give you some insight into Fort McHenry, the site where Francis Scott Key penned the words to A Star is Born. No – wait – something else with “star” in it – ah yes – The Star-Spangled Banner.
What a clever observation.
Ah. “The Flag is full of stars.”
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.

And there isn’t a better story for the Fourth of July, as years ago, during the War of 1812, on September 13, 1814 (you can see how all the dates go so well together), attorney Frances Scott Key and his Colonel friend went to see if they could get their doctor associate off a British prison ship. The Brits said, “Okay, FINE, but first we’ll put you on of one of OUR boats with a really funny name* and then we’ll put you back on your own sloop and make you watch us lob really big bombs at your mates in the fort all night.” I’m not kidding.

But, in the wee hours of the morn on September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key could see that the ENORMOUS “Garrison Flag” (30 feet by 42 feet – not subtle) was still flying and the Brits were making a hasty (but dignified – harrumph, harrumph) retreat.
The Subtle Garrison Flag
A Replica of the Garrison Flag Flies over Fort McHenry
Photo Courtesy of The National Park Service.

Key was inspired to write the famous text that millions and millions of people ALMOST know and mumble at important patriotic events (like baseball games and basketball games and football games). And because he, even under duress had a sense of humour, The Star-Spangled Banner was ultimately set to the British tune “The Anacreontic Song” (commonly referred to as “To Anacreon in Heaven”) because he and his associates had been put by the Brits onto the *H.M.S. Surprise. I’m sure that was his reasoning.

Now many consider “The Anacreontic Song” to be a drinking tune. In fairness, it should be noted that, though it contains certain Bacchanalian themes, it was the “official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century club of amateur musicians in London.” And who are WE to question Wikipedia. Re-write it, yes, Question it, NOOOO. Well, I admit they DO mention this:

This absence of an official connection to drinking did not keep the song from being associated with alcohol, as it was commonly used as a sobriety test: If you could sing a stanza of the notoriously difficult melody and stay on key, you were sober enough for another round.

As you will see, we were certainly sober (COLD sober) enough to enjoy numerous rounds of the festive attractions at Fort McHenry. We started in the visitor’s center cum museum. Peek-A-Boo Radley thought it was “da bomb.”
Seriously, this is da BOMB.
Oh, I see! This one DIDN’T explode; therefore it’s INTACT.
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.

We met Ranger Bill. According to his colleague (just out of the frame on the left in the image below) he is ORIGINAL from the War of 1812. Ha ha ha.
Ranger Bill and Peek-A-Boo
Ranger Bill Meets Peek-A-Boo Radley
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.

Then we saw a scale model of that famous battle that took place on and around September 13-14, 1814. It had lights, movement – the Government must of paid handsomely for the thing.
It's only a model...
Peek-A-Boo Did Not TOUCH It
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.

But wait, that’s a diorama made by a grade-school student. I tell you, it was so much better than the (no doubt) bazillion-dollar monstrosity that took up the whole center of the visitor’s center that we didn’t even take a picture of the “real” model.

Then we ventured out to the Fort proper. Throughout history, as I understand it, Fort McHenry has been a sort of defensive stronghold, a super-star fort, a garrison for Civil War Troops, a prison for Confederate soldiers during/after the Civil War, the largest WWI hospital in the country (evidently they just tore those buildings down in the 1920’s when they didn’t need them any more), and then it was apparently stripped down and rebuilt to super-star Fort status again.

Fort McHenry has many little nooks and crannies. Some of them are in the Sally Yard and some of them…are not. No, I don’t know what the “Sally Yard” is. Though it mentioned on numerous signs, the literature wasn’t very specific about it (translation = I didn’t bother to find out in any of the pamphlets what the “Sally Yard” is/was). Here’s a powder prison:
Gun Powder - Peek-A-Boo Wants In
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.

OHHHHH – THERE’S more, MORE, MORE and you’ll want to see it…I DARE you to continue…

Just in case, we thought perhaps a temporary incarceration would be in order for Peek-A-Boo Radley.
You play with pretend FIRE, We’ll put you in a REAL JAIL
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.

Well, we relented. As it stands he’s so SMALL (being a Blobby JUNIOR), that he could go right through those bars. Or up an air hole…

Is it an airhole?

After all, he can pigeon-hole himself.
He can pigeon-hole himself.

Soon Peek-A-Boo Radley suffered delusions of grandeur. He chose the OFFICER’S bunk. You bring the Blobby King to live with you and ALL the Blobbies think they should take on airs.
Peek-A-Boo fancies himself an officer.
Luckett? Why not.
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.
There he goes with the powder again...
This time Peek-A-Boo found the REAL stash. Talk about the big bang…
Photo Courtesy of my Baby Brother.

Sometimes, when you go to the Fort, you get to see the replica of the “Garrison Flag.” The day we were there, however, there was a light breeze or something so the “storm flag” was up. At least I THINK it was the “storm flag.” It could have been the “Medium, Slightly Cloudy Day Flag.” But since for many years, according to an act of Congress, a flag has continuously flown over Fort McHenry, even if it’s partly cloudy or there’s a hurricane (in Baltimore Harbor?).
The "Storm" Flag?
The “Storm Flag” or the “Medium, Slightly Cloudy Day Flag.”
Photo courtesy of my Baby Brother or Some Lady

Before the fort closes to the public for the evening, the let any random person who happens by help “retire the flag.” Is it retire the flag? Maybe not, because they are going to use it again, but it doesn’t seem like it should be “UN-fly the Flag.”

The people below helped the day we were there. I thought several of them MIGHT want to remain anonymous. But don’t worry, I dodged them out and smudged them out with the star-shaped brush. Very patriotic.
The flag un-raising?
They were very professional, in an amateur sort of way.
Photo courtesy of Some Lady

Then they raised the “Wee Tiny Bairn Flag” or what could ACTUALLY be the “Storm Flag.” I’m not in the mood to research the flag sizes. I heard all about it once. I DO know how many stripes and stars are on each of those flags and why it is unusual. And I shan’t tell you.
The Wee Bairn Flag?

Before we left, Peek-A-Boo Radley got a look at one of the “Big Guns” looking out over the Baltimore Harbor. That lady with him wished to keep her arms and the lower part of her face anonymous.
That's a big gun.

All in all, it was a very informative, educational and patriotic experience. Special thanks to the most compliant and agreeable photographer at my beck and call.

And my undying thanks to PEEK-A-BOO RADLEY, JR.!!!