Jim Loewen was at the infamous Smithsonian Christmas Party!

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

The late Jim Loewen . . . (1942-2021)

The last Americas Revealed articles that Jim Loewen was able to read, before becoming too incapacitated by the spreading cancer, was the Shenandoah Chronicles. Until then he had no clue that I had made commercial quality goat cheese or that I had lived for seven years in northern Virginia or that I had starkly higher socio-economic status, while living in Virginia. Well . . . you see karma was working, when he and his wife drove down to Georgia nine years ago. Until I received his last ever email, I certainly didn’t know that he was a former employee of the Smithsonian Institute. It is where he wrote his famous book, Lies My Teacher Told Me.

Jim was AT the infamous Smithsonian Christmas Party that is described in Chapter Two – The French Courtesan, Who Came In from the Cold. He was single and employed by the Smithsonian at the time and came with a girlfriend. He does not recall talking with me there. He did remember eating my goat cheese, but had no clue that “the Maya guy” he knew in the 21st century was the same person, who, over two decades before, was at the party in Alexandria, VA to present his goat cheese.

Vivi at age 16.

In contrast, Jim clearly remembered Vivi, especially when we started making out under the mistletoe in the living room then Sara Danby called Vivi aside to suggest that we relocate to the Guest Quarters. He especially remembered Vivi, when she came back into the party room, dressed like a French college coquette . . . wearing a beret and simple sweater.

At the time Jim was chatting with Roger Kennedy (Director – National Museum of American History). Roger instantly shifted his eyes toward Vivi and they began to chat about European history. Jim labeled Roger’s conversation “gawk and talk.” Jim did get a few words in with Vivi, but eventually she announced that she needed to get back to her boyfriend in order to get warmed up.

Jim said that he shook his head in disbelief. How did that goat farmer from the Shenandoah Valley get hooked up with this beautiful French actress?

Well, Jim . . . “Mama always said, Forrest, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get out of it.”

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