Monday, December 3, 2012

Quote of the Day (Robert Benchley, on ‘Museum Feet’)

“I, myself, in a burst of parental obligation last Fall, decided to take the boys through the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. I would have picked a bigger place if there had been one in the country, but the Smithsonian was the biggest I could get. As a result, I contracted a bad case of what is known in medical circles as ‘Smithsonian Feet,’ that is, a complete paralysis of the feet from the ankles down, due to standing on first one foot and then the other in front of exhibition cases and walking miles upon miles up and down the tessellated corridors of the museum. The boys suffered no ill effects from the trip at all.”—Robert Benchley, “Museum Feet,” in Pluck and Luck (1925)

From what I’ve been able to determine, only four museums were under the Smithsonian umbrella at the time when humorist Robert Benchley (1889-1945) wrote his deeply amusing essay. Today, there are 19—count ‘em, 19. If every American could be prevailed upon to visit each of these buildings at least once, the result would be enough to foot the bill for a decade’s worth of meetings of the American Podiatric Medical Association, I'd wager.

(The accompanying image of Benchley was taken by an unknown photographer around 1935.)

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