They’re Paying Me To Do This?

Eric Lamar
3 min readAug 27, 2022

Some third career magic

My fellow firefighters, active and retired, would likely identify with the thought in the title, what we did was so much fun and worthwhile that the doing seemed compensation enough.

Routine firefighting is a splendid combination of will, thrill, challenge and teamwork with a dash of danger like a cherry on top — moments truly lived.

Such moments and thoughts are surely one of the reasons why firefighting lingers on so fondly in the minds of those who did it.

To have one such career is a gift, to have another is magic, yet that’s where I find myself as a D.C. guide.

Yesterday was one of those “They pay me?” days.

(But please don’t tell my boss.)

I was with a small group when first we visited Hillwood, the estate (and now museum) once owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Hillwood Estate and Gardens

Post, heir to the General Foods fortune, was a true philanthropist who went through husbands like favorite shoes, marrying and divorcing four times.

Russian Chalice

Set amid fabulous gardens and grounds, the house is full of art and treasures many representing the Romanov period in Russia.

And yes, those Faberge Eggs

We then drove over to Georgetown to visit Tudor Place, the elegant early 18th-century mansion that was the home of Thomas Peter and his wife Martha Parke Custis Peter, the granddaughter of Martha Washington.

Tudor Place, north elevation

Martha Parke Custis Peter was the daughter of John Custis, John was from Martha Washington’s first marriage to Daniel Parke Custis.

Martha Peter owned over a hundred slaves, many being forced to work on agricultural holdings in the area.

Tudor Place, looking south from the central hall.

Finally, it was off to President Lincoln’s Cottage which is located on the grounds of the Old Soldier’s home. The Lincoln’s resided at the airy hilltop retreat for much of his presidency.

Old Soldier’s Home

It is said the Lincoln’s moved up to the Cottage each year as soon as it was warm enough to not use the fireplaces and stayed till the early Fall.

And moved means moved, around nineteen wagon loads of furniture and belongings.

Drawing room at the Cottage

Among the beauty, finery and history, I also met and spent the afternoon with two dozen lovely people, a benefit not to be dismissed as I grow older; being with people, including those recently met, keeps me engaged and a part of the world I am passing through.

I’m grateful for it all— and I should be.