George Washington's birthday provided people on opposite sides of the nation a good reason for a party. Residents of George, Wash., a Columbia River Valley farming community, celebrated Presidents' Day by eating a 190-pound cake decorated with the face of their town's namesake. The birthday party has been a tradition for more than 30 years in the town of about 250. Meanwhile, in New York, the countdown to the 200th anniversary of Washington's inauguration in that city as the first U.S. President began with exhibits at Federal Hall, built on the site of the nation's first Capitol, and at Fraunces Tavern, where Washington said farewell to his officers in 1783. Irwin Layne, a 70-year-old singer retired from the Brooklyn Opera who is a volunteer guide at the tavern museum, said the life mask of Washington made in plaster by French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon in 1783 is his favorite exhibit. "I look at that every day I work here," he said. " . . . There's not enough patriotism today. When I hear young people come in here and say things that degrade our heroes, I tell them in an emphatic way they are wrong."
--In Delaware, the wreck of a British man o' war hauled from Delaware Bay is providing a glimpse of shipboard life during Washington's time. The discovery has shown that sailors in the 1790s were well-fed and used Wedgwood ceramic plates and good-quality muskets, said Charles Fithian, curator of archeology for the Delaware Bureau of Museums and Historic Sites in South Bowers. The vessel had machine-manufactured fittings, one of the earliest products of the Industrial Revolution. The DeBraak, lost in a 1798 squall, was raised by a salvage firm in 1986.
--First Lady Barbara Bush, long an advocate of literacy programs, will visit local literacy and reading projects around the country this year as honorary chairwoman of the "Year of the Young Reader," a campaign started by the Library of Congress. "Our young people need to know that reading is a joy as well as the most essential of skills, and that libraries are inviting, accessible places dedicated to the joy of reading," she said.