Monday, September 19, 2011

Ramblings of a history buff

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, our family got in the truck and drove to downtown Boston for an afternoon of history and discovery.  But before we get there, let me tell you about where we are…

Instead of staying in Manchester until Friday, (which is what my last post told) dad drove us to Salisbury, Massachusetts instead.  We’re all very glad he did that.  We are staying in Salisbury Beach State Park campground, just walking distance from Salisbury Beach.  I saw (and felt) the Atlantic ocean for the first time yesterday, what fun!  It is much bluer than the Pacific, at least here, and the waves are far too small to even boogie-board in, even at high tide.  The beach here is very large, with soft sand and not a lot of people this time of year.  I love it.  I think it will be a good week.

Back to Boston…we began the historic “Freedom Tour” at around 1:30, after parking underground and strolling through Boston Common, the oldest public park in America.  It was the site of public celebrations, duels, spirited oratory and hangings.  Frog Pond is almost right in the middle, and in the wintertime it is a public skating area.  It was a lovely place and just hopping with all sorts of activity. 

The second stop on the tour was Massachusetts State House.  It was completed in 1798 at five times the budget, and has a gilded dome with 23-carat gold leaf. 

Third was Park Street Church, built in 1809, was nicknamed the “Brimstone Corner”, both for the fire-and-brimstone sermons given there and to the gunpowder stored in the crypt during the War of 1812.  It was once the first landmark a traveler saw when approaching the city. 

Next to the Park Street Church was the Granary Burying Ground, the third oldest graveyard in Boston.  I don’t know if anyone outside my family knows this, but I LOVE graveyards!  I know it sounds weird, but I’m just fascinated by them.  The old, chipped, worn stones and the weedy, winding trails, the eloquent inscriptions that send chills down your spine, I love it.  Not only was it huge, but it is the final resting place of many prominent Bostonians.  We saw the graves of all five Boston Massacre victims, Ben Franklin’s parents, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams and eight governors of Boston.  I had a ball. 

Point of historical interest #5:  the King’s Chapel.  Another old church, actually the first in Boston.  The canopied Governor’s pew is just as elaborate as it was 200 years ago, and the pipe organ and original offering box are still used.  Neighboring the church is Boston’s oldest burying ground, where we looked upon the graves of John Winthrop, William Dawes and Mary (nee Chilton) Winslow.  Mary is believed to be the first pilgrim to step off the Mayflower.  That was really neat as well.

The first public school was the next attraction.  Ben Franklin went there, for two years before dropping out on account of orneriness. J  Ralf Waldo Emerson also attended there as a student.  Can you imagine being Ralf Waldo Emerson’s classmate?!  Girls were first admitted in 1972, so I guess they didn’t have any distractions when studying… ;)

#8:  the Old Corner Bookstore.  My favorite place of course!  In the mid-1800’s, it was a thriving publishing center.  Works by Ticknor and Fields, Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Tennyson, Hawthorne, Emerson, Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Julia Ward Howe and many others were originally published there.  Now the building’s just a Chipotle Mexican restaurant, but I was still excited to see it!  I love books, old books and reading, and having read books by most of those authors, it was a neat thing for me.  I can highly recommend all the authors, if you are the type that loves a reading challenge!

Just across the street was our next destination, the Old South Meeting House.  (For those who listen to “Jonathan Park”, listen to “The Mysterious Host” adventure in volume 6).  It is another church, much like the rest, but very pretty and old.  It is an entirely brick building with a clock tower that has a lovely, old clock with roman numerals on it.  Definitely a building that makes the Bostonians proud. 

After walking through winding city streets with cobblestone roads and brick buildings, we came upon the Old State House Museum, the site of the Boston Massacre and the Faneuil Hall.  Those places were famous for the anti-slavery speeches made my William Lloyd Garrison, clashes between Colonists and British troops and the reading of the Declaration of Independence.  After following the red brick path a while longer, we stopped in front of Paul Revere’s home.  It was a modest, brown, two-story structure with a small courtyard in back and diamond-glass windows.  I was glad to see that there wasn’t an elaborate statue or marker, just a simple hanging sign bearing the words:

Here Lived
-Paul Revere-

Our next stop was another church, the Old North Church.  Same as the others in looks, with the original bells brought to the Colonies.  More than 1,000 individuals lay in rest in its underground crypt, including the Royal Governor’s second-in-command at Lexington and Concord.  Cool. 

We skipped Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, even I was getting tired of graveyards and ‘here lies…’  Walking with determination, we reached the U.S.S. Constitution just in time to catch the second-to-last guided tour.  In case you don’t know what the U.S.S. Constitution is, she’s the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.  Made of wood and launched in 1797, she won every single battle that crossed her path and there were many.  Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” when, during the War of 1812, they were battling an enemy ship.  Cannonballs from enemy cannons were flying thickly, yet they were bouncing off the hull of Constitution!  Not one ever penetrated it.  When a crewmember saw this, he shouted, “Huzzah!  Her sides are made of iron!”  A very fascinating and historical site and one we would all recommend.

Thus ended our Freedom Tour through Boston.  It took us almost 5 hours, but we really took our time.  Taking a small ferry across the harbor, we then walked to Quincy Market for dinner.  For those who’ve never been to (or heard) of Quincy Market, it is a food lover’s heaven.  The building has one long food court with many ethnicities and prices, from Italian pubs to Japanese cuisine to Boston clam ‘chowda’!  Mom and I got bowls of the best chicken teriyaki we’d ever eaten, and enjoyed every bite.  Dad and the littles got clam ‘chowda’.  It wasn’t the quietest place to end the day, nor the most relaxing, but at least the food was good! 

It was a very quiet, peaceful drive home that night.  A good way to spend a Sunday and a great way to start a new week.  I’ll see if I can get pictures out tomorrow, we’ll see.  I like to keep y’all guessing. J        

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating day. I am would so love to make that same tour someday. I assume we will see some interesting shots from the graveyard. They always present some great photo opportunities, so I'm interested to see the images you were able to capture.