It’s been a while since my last update. I had visitors three weeks in a row, so I was doing a lot of sightseeing, eating and drinking on top of attending class and getting all of my reading done. So pretty much no writing has occurred in the past three-plus weeks, something I plan to rectify as soon as I get back to San Francisco. I have seen a lot of Boston though, which was nice, since for most of last year I barely left my apartment except to go to class and go grocery shopping. It was warm, too, which wasn’t too common during the school year, so it was great to be outside in the summer weather.
So, I’ve now been on the Freedom Trail three times, though I followed it most completely the first time and my tourist guide skills seemed to deteriorate every week following. I’m now quite familiar with the Old Granary Burying Ground, with its tombs of Paul Revere and John Hancock (and his servant, Frank) and Crispus Attucks, Samuel Adams, et al. I’ve seen the grave of William Dawes (Paul Revere’s little known sidekick) and the first governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop. I’ve been in all the Freedom Trail churches, but after three visits I still can’t remember which is which.
The thing about the Freedom Trail is that it highlights all of the overblown, overhyped and under-factual elements of American history. Paul Revere, for example. Big Hype there. But since in school we never learned about William Dawes (Billy says blame that on the popularity of the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” poem, because William Dawes doesn’t rhyme with anything), there’s no William Dawes hype on the Freedom Trail, though you can visit his grave and if you have a guidebook you might actually understand why he was important while you are doing so.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Trail allows visits to Paul Revere’s grave, his house (where, you can learn on your $3 tour, he fathered 16 kids with 2 wives. It was a three room house.), his garden, take a look at all the silversmithly products he made, visit the church that supposedly hung the one-if-by-land, two-if-by-sea lanterns in its steeple, and walk through a park containing a giant statue of him riding his very anatomically correct horse.
Meanwhile, in my guidebook, it is revealed that the Old North Church where they hung the lanterns isn’t actually the same church, that one burned down in the war, so they’ve just pretended that this one is the one where they hung the lanterns. Ok. And, if you make it through the first 3 miles of Freedom Trail fun, you can hike over to Bunker Hill, where the Revolutionaries fought that heroic battle. Except that the Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place on Breed’s Hill. And, despite the glorification of this battle that’s occurred in history books, our side actually lost.
Really, though, Boston is kind of a touristy town, so you just have to go with the Revolutionary swing of things. I made several tour-guide pilgrimages to John Kerry’s house, which happens to be on a very old and very proper and hugely wealthy square in Beacon Hill. It’s quite nice. Kerry’s is the biggest on the square too. Beacon Hill is lovely and very colonial Bostonian. I saw a lobster door knocker, which I found entertaining, and saw the purple glass that’s still in some of the homes there. It was an accident of glassmaking – they added too much manganese — and since all the rich people had it, everyone else wanted some too.
My friend Beth and I took a train up to Salem, which, for a cute New England town has to be the hokiest historical site I’ve ever been to. For a town that supposedly wants to distance itself from its witch history, it has a long way to go. Even the town newspaper’s logo is a witch. There are witch dungeons, witch museums, witch shops selling witch outfits, Harry Potter stuff, and a lot of very goth witch-inspired clothing. We did visit Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace and the house that inspired The House of the Seven Gables. That was kind of neat, not that I’ve read the book, but.
When my dad was here, we toured Fenway Park, with about 200 other people. Seriously, they have tours every hour, and there were literally about 200 people on our tour. They split us into two groups but it was still pretty unwieldy. We were kind of herded like cattle through the place. But the tour was cool. We got to visit the media box and other VIP spots, walk on the Green Monster and sit right next to the field, which is the closest I am going to get to seeing a game this, since the tickets are so hard to come by. I tried to get some for September on a Tuesday night, but all they have are single seats with an obstructed view, for $47. Yeah. Maybe next season.
On another visit to the Fenway area with Beth (this time during a game against the Twins) we sampled Maine blueberry beer, with an actual handful of berries thrown into the glass. They bounced around in the carbonation, which was sort of neat, in a trippy kind of way.
Beth and I also went to the heavily touristed Union Oyster House (the oldest restaurant in the U.S.) with a friend of hers, so she could sample clam chowder. We all split a slice of Boston cream pie.Yumilicious.