Nowhere else but here in America

Ann Kuehn - Contributing columnist

A bit of nostalgia…

During the Clinton years, Ed Kuehn and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. with friends.

I was familiar with Washington. My grandmother lived in Kensington, Md., and I had spent a semester at American University as a political science exchange student. It was after that experience that I wanted to go to law school.

“Women don’t become lawyers” intoned my father. Had he lived longer, he would have realized that crow tastes best when eaten warm.

The city, then, had a trolley system, making jumping on and off an easy way to explore the labyrinths. The trolleys were long gone by the 1990s, and so we hoofed it.

Washington remains to me one of the world’s prettiest capitals, and I have been fortunate to visit many.

Pierre Charles L’Enfant, an obscure French architect, emigrated to take part in the Revolutionary War. He caught the attention of George Washington who, after the successful outcome, asked Monsieur to design a capital worthy of the new country’s ideals.

L’Enfant was a perfect choice, a neo-classical devotee of Greek and Roman architecture. Not dismayed by the forest, hills, and swamp, he envisioned a great public walk stretching for two miles from Capitol Hill to the Potomac River.

In 1790 an Act of Congress authorized the 100-mile Federal District. Capitol Hill (the future site of Congress) became the center of the city with its radiating diagonal avenues, named after the states, bisecting the city grid system.

This is as much as I am willing to look up our Capitol’s history, which may bear scrutiny.

Back to our trip.

We were staying at the John Hay Hotel which overlooks the White House. We hit the usual touristy attractions. For those of you who have never been to Washington, be sure to add the Spy Museum to your list, and plan at least a year for the Smithsonian.

We were leaving on a Sunday morning only to be told that our car could not be immediately retrieved since President Clinton was to attend services at St. John Episcopal Church, also across from the White House.

We stood outside to watch. The cavalcade came with little fanfare, but unfortunately our friend had gone upstairs to collect his camera.

“What a shame,” I told him.”

“Well”, said Ed Kuehn, “We could go to church.”

“Are you out of your mind?” I was dressed in my usual natty attire of jeans, sweatshirt, and Birkenstocks.

“I can’t go to church dressed like this!”

“Ann, when will you ever again have a chance to go to church with a President of the United States?” True. Plus, I am an Episcopalian.

St. John is arranged in a semi-circular pattern facing the altar — aisle, pew; aisle, pew; aisle, pew; aisle, pew; aisle. After being patted down we entered, climbing over a few disgruntled parishioners to sit in the far right pew.

A bit of difficulty arose at Communion. Dave, a devout Methodist, felt it might be a bit too papal for him. Dolly, with a quick elbow jab, convinced him otherwise.

We knelt at the altar. Ed Kuehn was to my immediate left. He leaned back. He was kneeling next to Bill Clinton. Where was the fairness in that! I am a Democrat!

Please think about it. Where else could a Baptist President of the United States, kneel next to an Ohio Methodist Republican committeeman, to take communion in an Episcopal Church?

No place but America.


Ann Kuehn resides at Ohio Living Cape May in Wilmington. She says, “I gravitated to Ohio at age 18 and never left” and moved to Sabina in 1987.

Ann Kuehn

Contributing columnist