Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Visiting Boston

I went to Boston last week, on a bus with twenty-five other people. We took in the mythology of the beginning of our nation’s revolution, some Americana and some local culture. Then we came home. My companions on this trip were the other people who took the trip with me. After having taken a few previous trips with Jack, our driver, he was like a familiar friend. He even hugged me and other women goodbye at the end. Jan, our tour guide, was a winner, too.
We spent more time on the road than the three days in Massachusetts. It was worth it for the most part. The scenery in New York State and Massachusetts is beautiful. The mountains and hills are largely wooded. Some panoramic views looked spectacular.
In Boston, I enjoyed our tour of the USS Constitution, the oldest operative US Navy commissioned ship. It was known as Old Ironsides because cannon balls would not penetrate its keel. Next to it in dry dock was a navy destroyer. The old and the new together. The Constitution is in very good shape for its age, which the guide told us and I immediately forgot. She said it held five hundred men in its active days. Pretty crowded, even for small guys who took turns sleeping in hammocks. I was the last person to get back onto the bus because I wanted to stay and look at the boats.
Equally fascinating was our day at Lexington and Concord. A local guide took us to the relevant historical sites where battles too place. She was very good at bringing us into the events that might actually have happened as reported. Mythology here seemed more important than historical accuracy, although she said it all happened. We stood where the shot heard round the world (the expression was coined by Emerson) happened as the alleged beginning of the revolutionary war. She also told of some of the events that led to it. She said that the battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord each lasted about five minutes. The patriots lost and Lexington and won at Concord.
We visited Paul Revere’s house in Boston, which has been restored. Fireplaces and old furniture. Revere’s midnight ride was recounted. I have read that Longfellow invented many of the details of that ride, although at Lexington our excellent guide pointed out that he was captured before he got to Concord. Longellow left out that part of Revere’s adventure. Related to this, we also visited the Old North Church in Boston, which is an Episcopal Church, where the alleged “one if by land and two if by sea” was said by Paul Revere before he rowed across the river, borrowed a horse and began his famous ride to warn the settlers that the Regulars were coming.
Americana meant stops at the Lucy Desi Center in Jamestown, NY, and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockwell, MA, both on the way to Boston. Both were interesting in different ways. Lucille Ball’s hometown is Jamestown. The center captures her and Desi Arnaz’s life on television. In Stockwell, Rockwell’s original paintings are exhibited, I ate this up. He captured Americana on covers of the Saturday Evening Post, and the original paintings are in that museum. He was criticized by some for giving us sentimental art, but his art captured mid-century America very well. He was an excellent portrait painter. The museum has a room of his dog paintings. Dogs are present in the paintings but are not the subject of the paintings. There are photos there of Rockwell positioning dogs as models for a photographer, next to the corresponding paintings. Did we think he painted everyone and everything without models?
Local sights and tastes included dinner at Cheers, which was mediocre; the view from the top of the Prudential Building, about 50 stories high; tour of Boston Harbor in a boat; tour of the Charles River on a World War II duck; tour of part of Harvard University; an afternoon walking on the Freedom Trail mixed with time at the Quincy Market; plenty of clam chowder; other undistinguished meals here and there. On my own I located and dined at Legal Sea Food in Boston. I couldn’t forego a good lobster dinner in a city famous for seafood. And wonder of wonders, I had no beans in Beantown.

I had a good time. I took no photos. I am home now.

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