I had a bunch of frequent flier miles with Delta Airlines, and decided that if it were a free flight, I could afford to be frivolous and do a weekend trip. I rarely fly anywhere for such a brief period. One exception being a fun weekend with my cousin in Nevada a few years ago. My friends in Boston have been neglected since 2018, and I loved the idea of a quick birthday trip and hugs and kisses all around, then return home. Pedro and I managed to pack quite a bit into our Saturday-Tuesday trip.
Thursday it had snowed 8 inches in Boston and then stayed cold, so when we arrived two days later, it was quite wintery, and that was actually kind of fun. When I attended Brandeis University from 2004-2007, I was earning my Bachelors and Masters degrees at the same time, and didn’t have time for ANY fun (though I squeezed some in anyway). I hardly ever made it into the city of Boston, but often when I did, it looked like it did this past weekend. So I spent time floating around in memories.
We checked into our Airbnb hotel right off Boston Common at the corner of Tremont and Boylston. Dumped our gear and then got ready to head out and find a place to eat. I couldn’t find my glasses. And yep – lost my glasses the very first night. I was blind for the rest of the trip. Arrrgghh.
It was cold and windy outside, but we had anticipated a very cold weekend and had packed for it. Only a block down Tremont Ave we stepped into The 4th Wall, naturally across from an arts & communication college. They had Guinness on tap, and since I had not had one of those since Tara and I were in Ireland, that’s what I ordered and Pedro copied me.
Sunday morning we walked out the front door into Boston Common. Established in 1634, it is the oldest park in the United States. I had brought Tara here as a kid, and I wanted to go find the ice-skating pond. I was pretty sure we were on the opposite side from the pond, so we cut through the middle.
Then we walked up the hill to admire the sparkling gold dome of the Massachusetts State House. When we arrived, we saw that it is undergoing repairs and the entire front of the building is obscured. But standing on the steps of the State House and looking across the park held a nice view.
We looked down and saw we were standing on the red brick path through the sidewalk that signals the famous Freedom Trail and decided to walk it for a while. Walking along the Freedom Trail will take a person past important historical sites from U.S. history. We headed down Park Street, turned at the Park Street Church and soon found the Granary Burying Ground. Here are buried about 5,000 Boston residents who died from 1660 to 1880. They include Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere.
The old Boston Latin School that used to occupy this spot had famous students, including Benjamin Franklin. Pedro pointed to a sign stating that “in 1645 the town stipulated that ‘Indians are to be taught gratis.'” It is good to know that originally, Native people were welcomed into the education system of the colonists.
There are two funny stories related to this spot. One has to do with the kids who went to school here and brought their sleds in winter. When school was out they would coast down Beacon Street, across Tremont, and down School Street. The winter of 1774-75, a British General, tired of having all the kids coasting the street in front of his house, ordered his servant to spread ashes on the snow in front of the house and ruin their fun. The boys joined forces and demanded a meeting with the General, in which they complained that their fathers before them had perfected this particular sledding route and it would be against tradition to stop it. The General ordered his servant to fix it, and then reported the whole affair to the British Governor. The Governor remarked that it was clearly impossible to beat the Liberty out of the colonists, as it was rooted in them from childhood! Hilarious.
The other story has to do with a statue of a donkey between Quincy and Franklin. A Bostonian was traveling in Italy and came across this donkey statue and had the idea to gift it to the city of Boston to be installed along the Freedom Trail. His idea was that children, bored with Boston history, would see it and have some fun. He couldn’t get the city to accept the gift though. They argued that an Italian donkey had nothing to do with Boston’s sacred history. The benefactor suggested that it could represent the city’s long history of Democratic governance, since the donkey is the animal symbol for Democrats. The city leaders agreed to take it and install it. But then the Republicans had a fit and demanded that an elephant statue also be installed, because elephants are the animal symbol of Republicans, but the city didn’t want to pay for that. The benefactor had the idea to install a bronze plaque in front of the donkey that has elephants inscribed into footprints, and it says, “Stand in opposition.” This settled it.