One Liner Wednesday – Teachable Moments

Mommy, do they still make tree trunks like this?

Overheard last week in the National Parks exhibit of the Post Office Museum in Washington, D.C.

Tree Trunk SlabIt was hard not to laugh, but the little girl who asked this question was so sincere and, apparently had never seen a tree of the size that would yield such a slab of wood. Her mother apologized to me, because she decided to pause and give a little lesson and make a little promise. I was fine waiting for my chance to take a photo.

The mother explained how trees grow, how they “get hurt” and how and why they are cut down. She promised to take her daughter to a forest and show her large trees that are, in fact, still being made, just like this one.

The Post Office Museum is one of the Smithsonian museums and is across the street from Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. I’ve walked past many times. I had a little free time last Friday afternoon, so I decided to take a tour. My father worked for the Post Office for many years. I worked for the Post Office during three summer vacations, four Christmas breaks and a couple of Spring Breaks. So, the family connection is strong.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday series.

One Liner Wednesday


  1. This is beautiful Dan. Asking innocent questions is something we unlearn through our childhood by being made to feel stupid or annoying but hey, when you don’t know, you don’t know. And if you want to know you should be able to ask someone you trust.
    Good for mom in taking the time to explain and teach. And good for the young lady in being curious enough to want to know :-)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Exactly, Norm! The mom stepped into her role as if it were a play. No judgement, not making fun and really, no giant boring botany lesson. She explained the basic information necessary and then described a place they would visit this summer where there are big trees. I think this was a lucky little girl.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Your post has amazing quotes, never just one line, but very meaningful! The tree and the post office story of your Dad plus the time you put in there are warm, Dan. This left me feeling happy you were able to work there for awhile. :) Great photos to look at, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. I find it very difficult to go with just one-line – it’s hard to tell a story. I spent a lot of time working with my dad. At home, at the bowling alley he managed and at that Post Office. I even rode with him in a cab that he drove.


  3. Precious. I’m glad the mother gave such a lesson! City kids need trips to the country, or in this case, forests — like country kids need trips to the city.
    I value the USPS, even though they make me crazy, I still value them :)
    I would like to take a sabbatical at The Smithsonian, maybe move in for a summer… It is not a place one should be sped through parts of. I wanted to look at all the things, lol!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. It sounded like this little girl was going to get into the woods this summer.

      I do like USPS. I think they are underrated in this era of gottaHaveItNow. I’m not sure how long a sabbatical you would need. It would be worth it though.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dan, I liked your comment “I’m trying to rediscover that child-like curiosity.” That describes exactly what I’ve been trying to do since I retired. I was always a curious person, but as a child I was discouraged from asking questions. This mother is wonderful!

    In my hometown, there is a post office where everyone still picks up their mail. Exactly like that sign described, picking up the mail is a very social activity. When my dad was still alive, and he would announce he was “going to get the mail”, we knew he would be gone at least an hour for an activity that should have taken literally about 10 minutes.


  5. What an encouraging story, Dan. We home schooled our girls through high school, so there were many teachable moments and many “field trips” to all sorts of places. Vacations are a great learning time, too, learning in a natural, unforced way. The mom’s comment about seeing the trees made me think of the ads that I’ve heard about visiting the forest, an excellent thing to do in a time when so many people seem to only be in the city. We’re blessed to be somewhere that has lots and lots of parks available to anyone!

    In Naperville, we have the most amazing post office I’ve ever seen, one that’s open late and even open on Sundays; not just the access to PO boxes, but the part where you mail things! I didn’t know a government office could do that. The people who work there are generally helpful and friendly, an important combination.



    1. Thanks Janet. The post office near the airport is open early/late/Sunday and the people are so nice. Visiting nature is so important. I’m glad this mom seemed to know that. We thought about home schooling but didn’t. I admire people who make that work.


  6. Glad to hear that mother will be teaching her daughter more about Nature in the future. The generations coming up will have to learn that subject very well after all that’s been done to destroy it.
    Those photos are great, Dan!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice, Dan. You’ve given me two places to visit next trip – Union Station and the Post Office Museum. There’s always something to see and do in D.C.
    I’ve seen a variety of trees in my life, including redwoods, so I don’t believe I need to visit the forest at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Funny to read a post about a place that I walk by every day. You could be a tour guide, Dan!

    Interesting that zip codes go back only to the ’60s. Thought it had been longer, for some reason. The sorting bags make me think of “Miracle on 34th Street”, and the scene where Jack Albertson’s character comes up with the idea of sending all that Santa mail to Kris Kringle. And the little girl’s remark was funny too, of course.

    Guess you could say you really delivered with this post. xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Good one Paul. I think Zip Codes were 1963. I wonder if they still use the canvas bags. I remember having different colored nylon bags, green for Air Mail, but those canvas ones seemed indestructible. Hopefully, the next time I get down there, we’ll have a chance to have a beer.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a great place to spend when one has some spare time! The images are wonderful. This tour felt a little bit like a Fred Rogers “field trip” in the neighborhood to me. I always loved his field trips; the best part of the program for me.
    I have a vague recollection of Zip Codes being introduced, but I was young enough when we started using them that I can’t remember not using them.

    I hope that Mom does take her daughter to a park with BIG TREES. They’re amazing to see live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve been meaning to go inside for years. It was fun. I don’t think I would have remembered the timing on Zip Codes if it hadn’t been such a big deal in our house. My dad made numerous Mr Zip mail holders (napkin holder). We cut him out of thin plywood and painted him. My dad would draw lines for me to paint inside. I think that little girl is going to see done trees this summer.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, we all start with no knowledge and it’s fun passing it on as we acquire it ourselves. The woman taking her child to see the tree reminds me of when I was a small child and my dad would take me to the Natural History Museum (in London, England) where the thing I most loved was a petrified tree trunk that had looked like marble. I was always fascinated by that and wondered if I’d wake one morning and find that all the trees in our garden had turned to marble!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing what children find interesting and the thoughts they wrap around those things. I never expected to see a slab of wood in the Post Office Museum, but it turned out to be a moving few moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I like the idea of mail being delivered at the local tavern . In Ireland , the buses stopped in the small villages at a local pub . Not a bad place to wait . I don’t know how it is now . Those old post carriers weren’t so dumb.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The picture of the small cubbies at the post office triggered a flashback. I worked for UPS once upon a time and I worked my way up to the “small sort”, which was our version of “throwing”. I was pretty fast too.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.