“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited whereas imagination embraces the entire world”
State 41: New Jersey - May 27, 2018
We woke up at a Walmart in Princeton, NJ well rested, and ready for a brand new day. Yesterday, we visited the site where George Washington crossed the Delaware River, which turned the tide of the Revolutionary War in America’s favor. We could not wait to see what adventures lie ahead today. The first task of the day is to drive across town to learn about the Cross Country Couple's “Famous Person” for New Jersey; Albert Einstein. Born in Germany on March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist, philosopher, humanitarian, educator and immigrant, who is best known for developing; the theory of relativity to explain fundamental laws of the universe, the world's most famous equation; E=mc2, and the photoelectric effect for which he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. Einstein's accomplishments and contributions have left a lasting mark on the world, and his name has become synonymous with genius.
Einstein was visiting America when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. After the Nazi’s put a $5,000 bounty on his head, he had no desire to return to the fatherland, and became an American citizen in 1940. Prior to America’s involvement in WW2, Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him of Axis powers attempt to develop nuclear weapons, which led to the US initiating the Manhattan Project. Despite popular belief, Einstein was never a member of the faculty of Princeton University, but instead was employed as a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study also located in Princeton, NJ.
Because inquiring minds want to know, here a few more lesser known factoids about the world renowned Physicist. Einstein; never wore socks, second marriage was to his first cousin, did not speak until the age of four, was extended an offer to be the President of Israel which he respectfully declined, and brain was stolen by the pathologist performing his autopsy. Einstein's brain was found in a jar 20 years later, and today resides in the National Museum of Health and Medicine. I am serious!
We had three scheduled stops pertaining to Einstein in Princeton; his former home, a bronze bust, and a museum. We began our day visiting Einstein's Princeton home. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark, the unassuming white house on 112 Mercer Street was the home of Albert Einstein from 1935 until his death in 1955. After Einstein, the house was owned by his step-daughter Margot Einstein until her passing in 1986. Per Einstein’s expressed wishes, the house was not to be made into a museum, and no historical marker is present outside the house describing its historical significance. Today, Einstein's former home is a private residence, and is not open to public.
After departing Einstein's former home, we drove across town to the Princeton Town Hall Green to view the Albert Einstein Memorial. Erected in 2005 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Einstein’s passing, the Albert Einstein Memorial consists of a 2.5-foot-tall bronze rough cast bust resting on top of a 6-foot granite pedestal. Each side of the pedestal is inscribed with an Einstein quote relating to his roles as an immigrant, educator, humanitarian and physicist. The public green home to the Albert Einstein Memorial was creatively named EMC Square. Please see the pictures below including a photo of Einstein posing for his sculpture back in 1953.
While researching sites related to Einstein, I was shocked to find the only permanent museum erected in his honor was located in the rear of Landau’s Clothing Shop in Downtown Princeton. I found the aforementioned to be absurd considering the caliber of Einstein’s accomplishments. Since Einstein propagated to “question everything”, I decided to dig a little deeper to search for the truth, and discovered on December 12, 2017, the following appeared as a question on the long running TV game show; Jeopardy:
Alex Trebek: “Oddly the only US Museum devoted to this physicist is tucked away in a woolens shop in Princeton, New Jersey”
Contestant: “What is Einstein?”
Alex Trebek: “That is Correct! Choose your next category!”
See, it must be true! Alex Trebek is the man with all the answers, and the smartest person in the world, (after Einstein of course). Off we drove across Princeton to Landau’s Clothing Shop in search of the Einstein Museum. After finding a parking spot for Rosie, we walked three blocks West on Nassau Street toward Landau’s, and the scent of old money and scholastic superiority quickly enveloped the air around us. While Nate and I are neither destitute nor dummies, we both felt socioeconomically and educationally awkward, and unanimously agreed Princeton was NOT the new home of the Cross Country Couple. Nevertheless, we continued on in search of Einstein’s hidey hole. From the outside, Landau’s Clothing Shop is unassuming and appeared a tad divey. Had it not been for a tiny wood sign nailed above the doorway announcing our arrival to the Einstein Museum, we would have never known we were in the correct place.
The story of how the Einstein Museum came to be located inside of a retail clothing store is a fascinating tale. In 1994, the romantic comedy movie based on Einstein entitled “IQ” starring Tim Robbins, Meg Ryan and Water Matthau was being filmed in Princeton, NJ. Concurrently, Landau’s wanted to create an in store display honoring Princeton's most famous resident, and asked the community to loan their Einstein memorabilia. From the plumber who performed repairs on Einstein's residence to the old lady who got Einstein’s autograph as a school girl in 1934, hundreds of Princetonians loaned Landau’s their cherished mementos for public display, and thousands viewed the exhibit throughout the Fall of 1994. Six months after filming ended, the Einstein display was disassembled, and all of the loaded items were returned to their rightful owners. Five years later, a personal friend of Einstein stopped by Landau’s, and casually commented, “I wish there was a corner somewhere in Princeton that I could share my Einstein memorabilia!” Therein laid the idea to reserve a corner of the clothing store to establish the Einstein Museum! Thus the person who Time Magazine once hailed as “The Man of the Century”, is immortalized in the back of a clothing store in Princeton.
Tucked away in the far rear corner of the shop surrounded by overpriced wool coats and knit sweaters, we finally found the Einstein Museum! Exhibits on display at the museum include: photos, articles, artifacts, and fascinating information not commonly known about Einstein. One display of particular interest included a letter authored by Einstein revealing had he not become a physicist, he would have instead been a plumber! I mean no disrespect to plumbers, but that was a close one! Nevertheless, when the Plumber's and Steamfitter's Union learned of Einstein's interest in their trade, he was made an honorary member! As you probably know, Einstein is known for his wild and crazy hair. See what a little girl had to say about it in the letter below.
To the average person, Einstein’s accomplishments are nothing more than a series of confusing principles and obscure formula’s not easily understood unless one possesses a PhD in Physics. However, to this day Einstein’s life's work still impacts the world, and one such example is the Einstein Refrigerator. One of Einstein’s lesser known discoveries, the Einstein Refrigerator does not run on electricity, has no moving parts, maintains a constant pressure, and only requires a heat source to operate. Albeit not commercially successful in Einstein’s era, in 2016 22-year-old Will Broadway from the UK built upon the famous physicist’s invention to create the Isobar. The Isobar is a portable cooling system capable of transporting temperature-sensitive vaccines to developing countries without access to electricity. Broadway’s invention is estimated to save millions of lives by enabling vaccines to be delivered to the most remote regions of the world. Even decades after his death, the brightest minds of today still find inspiration in Einstein’s genius.
After departing the Einstein Museum in the back of Landau’s Clothing Shop, we drove 21 miles East to Manalapan Township to visit my Uncle Mike and Aunt Fran. Uncle Mike is my Father’s Brother. While I was growing up, my Uncle and Aunt would drive to Connecticut every year usually around Christmas time, and were a constant during my tumultuous upbringing. I have not seen my Aunt and Uncle in over 6 years, and there was no way I could drive through New Jersey without stopping by for a visit!
Lori and I spent over eight hours with my Uncle and Aunt catching up on each other’s lives, sharing old family stories and photos, and partaking in a communal lunch where we each contributed a specific component. We brought the vegan cheese, vegan meat, avocado, pickles and cantaloupe, and they brought the fresh baked Wegman’s bread, greens, tomatoes, apple pie, and delicious Tate’s crispy chocolate chip cookies. Although I have partaken in quite a few communal salads over the years, this was my first communal sandwich, and it was quite delicious! Food is always more enjoyable in the presence of good company! After we all finished eating, I gave my Aunt and Uncle a tour of Rosie, and just then catastrophe struck!
Over the past year traveling across America in a van, Lori and I have found ourselves in quite a few compromising predicaments. There was the time Rosie broke down on top the Appalachian Mountains in middle of nowhere West Virginia with no cellphone service, which you can read more about by clicking here. There was another time in New Mexico when Rosie broke down after Walmart’s Lube Center installed the wrong oil filter resulting in a 250-mile tow to the nearest Dodge dealership, which you can read more about by clicking here. Worst of all was the time in Illinois when Lori came down with pneumonia and sepsis, and had to be hospitalized for 4 days, which you can read more about by clicking here.
Now, a new addition to the quagmires faced by the Cross Country Couple! Today, Lori and I find ourselves in New Jersey with Rosie’s side door stuck wide open with thunderstorms in the forecast! It was 8pm on a Sunday, all of the garages were closed and tomorrow is Memorial Day! What are we going to do? Albeit quite urgent, my current predicament did not appear all that bad considering everything we have already been through. At least this time I had family nearby to help. My Uncle called the owner of a local autobody shop he knew, who agreed to look at Rosie’s door in the morning. My Aunt gave me a pink plastic table cloth, which I gorilla taped around Rosie’s exposed opening.
Eventually, I managed to get Rosie’s side door unjammed from the open position, but upon attempting to slam the side door shut, it jammed in the partially closed position! For over 30 minutes, I pulled at that door from the inside while my Uncle pushed from the outside, and we just could not manage to get Rosie’s stubborn side door closed! I guess the door being stuck partially closed is better than stuck wide open, so at least progress was made! Clearly, we had done all we could to address the issue for the night. After snapping a few pictures with my Uncle and Aunt and promising to keep in touch, Lori and I drove 5 miles Southeast to Freehold where we found a Walmart to spend the night.
After arriving at Walmart, the reality of our situation finally set in. Rosie’s side door was jammed partially open, and only a thin pink plastic tablecloth separated the Cross Country Couple from the outside world. To make matters worse, tonight’s forecast called for thunderstorms. To address the security issue, we parked in the middle of the lot, beneath an overhead light, and in direct view of the security cameras. As usual, we kept our preferred weapons for self-defense in arms reach, and I slept closest to the open side door.
Regarding the approaching rain, there is not a whole lot one can do to control the weather. Or is there? Rainmaking is a weather modification ritual, and the most common is the Native American Rain Dance. However, with Rosie’s side door stuck partially open and thunderstorms in the forecast, tonight I desperately needed a drought! Since Lori and I did not have any better ideas, we looked up the “rain dance” on “You Tube”, and attempted to do the dance in reverse! This is not our first time performing ceremonial Native American dances, which you can read more about by clicking here. Only time will tell if our reverse rain dance made a difference. However, we had fun dancing together, and it did help lighten the mood! Soon thereafter, Lori and I drifted off to sleep hoping to remain safe and dry!