Got an e-mail today from a distant relative who I’ve never met. He’s working on the family tree, and it made me think about the parts of mine that I know about.
Meet my great-great-great-grandfather, Rear Admiral Benjamin Franklin Sands. The good admiral used to run this little thing in D.C. known as the Naval Observatory, which is the only part of the city that is still pixelated out on aerial photos like those used on Google Maps. See for yourself. (Go ahead, try zooming in.)
My guess is that the Observatory’s current master, Dick Cheney, is a little paranoid, because they un-pixelated the White House and Capitol a few years ago, but the Veep’s House stays hidden.
Ben, along with my great-great-grandfather and my great-grandfather, were famous around town — socialites in their day who served the country via the U.S. Navy. Old copies of the New York Times and the Washington Post carried tales of their conquests on the high seas and their good deeds at home. But time is a fleeting mistress (or something waxy like that): I can’t get a same-day reservation at Oya on 7th Street NW to save my life.
“But wait, I’m the great-great-great-grandson of…” doesn’t get you very far in Washington in 2008. And if it did, life in this town would likely be unbearable!