My New England adventure ends just a few short hours from now, when I will board a United 737-900 at Logan International Airport to fly the Friendly Skies to Denver. Now, in my line of work, it’s very likely I’ll be back. There are (somewhat amazingly) still a lot of medical device and pharmaceutical companies headquartered here in Taxachusetts, and quite a bit of manufacturing still takes place here. My business takes me both into corporate HQs and into manufacturing sites, although I admit I prefer the latter; I like being in places where people are making things.
But that’s neither here nor there at the moment. Here are some of the highlights (non-work) of this venture.
Cape Cod. This is a fascinating little corner of New England. It’s a long, skinny and wealthy peninsula, a former stronghold of the Kennedys (Massachusetts’ royal family) but now, in the autumn of 2016, this state’s main displayer of Trump yard signs. I found that rather surprising but a couple of Cape Cod locals assured me that they weren’t surprised. But that wasn’t what impressed me about the Cape; what did was the great beaches, the fascinating coastal woodlands, and the fascinating old New England architecture in some of the older towns. If you’re in the area it’s worth a visit.
New Bedford. A historic old whaling town on the southern coast, New Bedford is home to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, with exhibits not only on the whaling trade and the ships and men that worked that trade, but also on the town and its people during the heyday of the New England whaling industry. Unless you have something against clean-burning lamp oil, it’s an interesting stop. And the town itself is charming. I ate lunch in a local watering hole with a great view of the harbor, chatted with some of the local folks, and enjoyed a great plate of haddock and chips.
The Springfield Armory National Historic Site and Museum. If you are, like yr. obdt., a gun aficionado, this is a must-see. Just prior to the United States’ entry into WWII, Franklin Roosevelt stated that America would be the “arsenal of democracy,” and this site is the primary producer of that arsenal. Form 1794 to 1968 the Armory produced everything from flintlock muskets to M-60 machine guns. The museum is full of interesting old guns, not just those produced there but also service weapons of our enemies and allies. There are also many one-offs; prototypes, experimental weapons and much more. Fascinating.
The Boston Common. This is a great place to visit on a sunny Saturday afternoon, especially if you (like me) like mingling with the local folks. It’s a happy place, grassy and beautiful, usually full of families and young folks enjoying the day. Add to that the thought I had there that I may have been standing on a spot where Sam Adams once stood, and that makes it even neater. Speaking of…
The Granary Burying Ground. Sam Adams, John Hancock and Robert Paine are buried here. I’m not normally big on grave markers, but these are heroes of our Revolution, and it’s interesting to wander around a bit and look at some of the dates on the markers; everyone there were more or less contemporaries of the Founding Fathers. It’s interesting to contemplate what these folks saw during their lives.
The North End, including Boston’s own Little Italy. Wandering this area one afternoon I encountered three good fellas (get it? Heh) who could have walked right out of The Sopranos. I suppose I stood out a bit even in this tourist-heavy area of Boston, as I was in jeans jacket and my usual big white gus-crown cowboy hat. I stopped and chatted with them a while. One of them said, “Yo,” (he really said that) “you look just like…” He snapped his fingers. “I can’t think of the name.”
“John Wayne,” I suggested.
“Nah,” he replied. “You ain’t dat good lookin’. Dat guy who plays da fiddle!”
“Yeah! Dat’s it!”
I chose to take that as a compliment.
The North End is loaded not only with great Italian restaurants but also with some wonderful dive bars; Durty Nelly’s is my personal favorite, but there are some lovely Irish pubs around the Boston Common Market.
Kittery, Maine. Only a short drive north of the Boston metro area lies this small town immortalized as the hometown of the fictional Admiral Rockwell Torrey in James E. Basset’s WWII novel Harm’s Way. Torrey was, incidentally, played by the aforementioned John Wayne in Otto Preminger’s movie based on the book. Kittery is a lovely little town with a lovely little public beach framed by overhanging granite cliffs; a tad touristy but not obnoxiously so.
I can’t abide New England politics; Massachusetts is a deep-blue state where I could never live permanently, even though I’ve had a couple of very lucrative job offers in the area. I’m a red-state American who is finding even our own beloved Colorado a tad uncomfortable (and look for some posts from Anchorage in a couple of weeks). But in the course of my gypsy-like wanderings I try to eschew local politics and see everything I can see. Boston is fascinating in a lot of ways, not only the wealth of American history but also the folks, the food, the sights, and not least of all the great fall colors that are just now ending.
I’m glad to have had the chance to explore the area.