When the kids were little, even when we weren’t homeschooling, Jason and I liked to make whatever we were doing as a family into an educational experience. Learning is fun and we wanted to pass on that belief to our children. It was with that goal that we prepared our kids to visit Mount Rushmore.
Of course we had to do background study and research to truly understand all that went into creating and constructing the amazing wonder that Mount Rushmore is, and that wouldn’t be complete without watching films about it, like National Geographic specials and American Experience episodes—but especially North by Northwest with Cary Grant. What would prep for the Mount be without North by Northwest with Cary Grant?
A nice thing about older films like that is they use innuendo rather than explicit graphic sexuality so we could let the young eyes in our household view it. And it was quite fun to experience together. Our family have always enjoyed movies, watching Indie and Fringe films and discussing and critiquing them—so much so that Molly is getting her degree in Film. So we weren't ready to hit the Black Hills until we'd seen Hitchcock’s masterpiece.
At the mountain, we posed in front of the scenic views, just like everyone else did. And we made sure to visit the cafeteria to see where Cary Grant was shot. When we asked about it, one of the staff there showed us where Cary fell down, but I’ve learned since they didn’t do any filming (only eating) in the cafeteria and it was actually filmed at a replica they built back in California. Even the mountain face that Cary and Eva Marie climbed down in the final exhilarating scene was done in a studio back in Hollywood. But when we were there, thinking we stood where Cary had been was a good story to hear.
When the kids had a dress up day in Kindergarten they each were assigned to choose a theme and dress in a costume that would represent their topic. Spencer was always into politics, so it was natural that he would go as Mount Rushmore—four presidents in one fell swoop. I guess we could have rigged up something to have each of the four kids be a head, but that might have proven difficult when it was time to buckle up in the van to and from school. So Spencer went solo on this one. Since he already had the spectacles, it naturally followed that he’d be Teddy (Roosevelt), but then because of the weight distribution of the mountain on his shoulders, he had to switch to being Tom (Jefferson), so it wouldn’t list too far to one side. Using starched fabric, we molded heads and a mountain side, complete with real tiny trees (they were cuttings from our blue spruce that we glue gunned in place). We sprayed the entire thing with that “looks like real stone” spray paint. We had a blast and he was a hit with his class and teachers.
Of course, back at the real Mount Rushmore, I guess we didn’t take pictures exactly like everyone else did. We had to pose and pretend we actually were Mount Rushmore. If you can’t climb on the thing like Cary and Eva (supposedly) did, at least you need to get a unique shot you can frame so you’ll always remember your trip there.
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