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Genealogy Road Trip 2021 Vol 7

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

“I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” – William F. Buckley Jr. “When I go abroad, I always sail from Boston because it is such a pleasant place to get away from.” – Oliver Herford “Boston’s freeway system is mad. It was clearly designed by a person who had spent his childhood breaking toy trains.” – Bill Bryson Boston - Sept 12 - 17 Leaving MOBYDCK at our hotel in Waltham, we took Massachusetts Commuter Rail into town all 3 days we had to take in the sites in Boston. Boston has some of the worst traffic in the U.S. and, with the challenge of parking the extra-long vehicle, this was the right choice. My son Frank has been lives here so this phase of our trip is very sweet. Boston is one of the best walking cities in the country and its downtown compact compared to Chicago or NY city. It’s squeezed onto a small peninsula with layer upon layer of American history. The subways were the first in America and are still easy to use (if somewhat rough). When you come to Boston there are three things you must do (besides watch the Red Sox at Fenway). 1. • Have dinner and desert in the North End. We ate at Giacamo’s. Two other highly recommended Italian restaurants are Mama Maria’s (best overall) and Limoncello (best meatballs) • Have a Cannoli at either Mike’s or Modern Underground Bar and Grill (bakery). Mike’s also has the most amazing Italian cookies. Beware! They are impossible to stop eating. (Added to our Dr. Kevorkian Recipe book).(See Death by Cannoli pic). Additional recommended eateries are Sam La Grass’s No. 1 Sandwich and Boston Sail Loft for the best clam chowder. My son also turned us on to Earl’s at Prudential Center. Great eclectic menu with great service. The crab cakes were delicious. 2. There are dozens of historical walking tours offered in Boston. I’m sure there are many good ones but “The Revolutionary History Story” is probably among the top 3 best guided tours I’ve ever taken. Mike, the tour guide, walks you 3 miles and 3.5 hours through Boston along “The Freedom Trail”. It’s the woven story of the founding of our country, come alive with passion and drama. It tours sites that were sentinel to events that pre-dated the Revolution such as the Boston Massacre and the Tea Party. He is entertaining, informative and has the superpower of being able to be heard over the loud traffic He also gives some great recommendations on restaurants (see above). We found out that Paul Revere did so much more than light lanterns and ride a horse. Janice shuttered to think that he had 16 children by 2 wives. Mike talked about one of his favorite little known revolutionary war hero who played a major role; Dr. Samual Warren. There was an act that mandated the colonists house British soldiers. Because of that, it was difficult for the patriots to communicate their plans. People such as John Adams visiting a house would garner suspicion. Dr. Warren (as a physician) was able to go from house to house spreading the word and get intelligence under the very noses of the British. He also fought as a private and died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Without these Paul Revere or Sam Warren, we would all be having afternoon tea with biscuits, eating “bangers and mash”, and maintain a stiff upper lip. We also toured the site of the Great Gigantic Molasses Wave of 1919. Bursting from an ill-constructed storage tank, a 30 foot, fast moving wave of thick, gooey molasses caused 20 people, several horses, and neighboring building to be consumed by the wave. The surrounding North Side neighborhood smelled of burnt sugar for decades. 3. We also toured some very old graveyards. In Puritan tradition, headstones often had carved with skulls with wings. This meant a dead person’s journey is not over once they’ve died, and that they are flying away to another realm. 4. Visit the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Iron Sides). This was one of six 40 to 50 gun heavy frigates that helped to save the nation during the War of 1812. The frame and side were made of 60 acres of South Carolina “live oak”, an especially hard wood. In battle, British cannon balls literally bounced off it. The copper bottom as smithed by Paul Revere. It not only strengthened the hull but also preventing barnacles collecting and slowing the ship. It is still a commissioned vessel in the United States Navy. It’s fully restored and taken out into Boston Harbor a few times a year. All of the guides aboard the ship are enlisted Navy sailors who are eager to tell you all about what serving on this amazing ship would have been like in the 19th century. You get to tour most of the ship and it’s free. The Constitution is housed in the Charlestown Navy Yard which, in World War II, employed over 50,000 workers quickly churning out ships, many were women. An entire war ship could be churned out in 30 days! A connoisseur of great signs, Janice found this one in a ladies’ bathroom, “Please do not flush the following: sanitary napkins, paper towels, phone bills, goldfish, or your hopes and dreams down the toilet. Thank you.” Cape Cod “I liked being in Cape Cod and never knowing what day of the week it is”-Janice “Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings.” –name of shop on the wharf. “Clamming” One of Neal’s closest friends, Steve, generously invited us to stay with him and his family (mooch) in his summer home in Eastham, MA on Cape Cod. Quickly we were oriented to the culture as we barely pulled into his driveway and were invited to the ritual known as “clamming.” Clamming channels the primitive instinct to hunt for one’s next meal. It involves searching for the tell-tale holes in the sand that indicate the presence of a subterranean clam. Once found, the hunter is blindly consumed by his reptile brain to subdue his prey. Furiously digging into sand up to his elbows, the mighty hunter must overcome the swiftness at which the clam hurriedly digs further to escape certain death. Once captured, in a raised voice indicting victory, the hunter exuberantly shouts to his fellow hunters to the presence of a successful kill. Joy, nay elation, springs forth in the recognition that the tribe will soon feast. Huzzah! Back at the house, while Neal and his clamming tribe gorged on “steamers”, Janice unequivocally stated she refused to eat anything that looked like the alien from the movie of the same name. (see cool ocean and sky pic) The Pirate Museum Pirate history is fascinating so here goes for the history-geeks: Spain and England were at war. The origin of pirates started with their hire as “privateers” by the English. They were given ships and were tasked with raiding Spanish ships for The Crown. In about 1714, once a truce was declared, they found themselves unemployed. Having mastered the art of plunder, they secured ships, attacked merchant and slave ships for goods and gold. They became outlaws. Nassau became a pirate kingdom, a place to get wasted with cheap rum and enjoy the pub ladies. There were also a few women who fought right along with the men and young boys. Ships usually flew the flag of their country of origin. Pirate ships were flagless, raising a black Jolly Roger just as they were about to attack. Each captain had their own design. The pirates would very often free the slaves from the ships they robbed. Having few employment options, many of the men became members of the crew with equal rights. Pirate ships were democracies. Each member, no matter their role, had a vote, including who became captain. They equally shared the money from the sale of the stolen goods. Sam Bellamy “Black Sam” Bellamy lived on the Cape in the very town of Eastham where we were staying with the Howard family! Sam was an veteran sailor in the Royal Navy and no stranger to naval combat. The romantic version is that he fell in love with Maria (back in Eastham) much to the horror of her parents. Wikipedia gives another story. The romantic version has him going off to be a pirate to gain wealth and come back to marry her. He stole a state-of-the-art slave ship, the Whydah, raised a crew, and became quite successful pirate. After plundering some Spanish gold, he returned to the Cape only to meet with foul weather, ran aground, then capsized with $400 million (in current dollars) gold in its hull just miles from the cape. He died in the wreak. At age 28, he the wealthiest pirate ever, worth $144,000,000 in current dollars. In the 1980s, the wreck was found under 10 feet of sand by a private treasure hunter. The museum has great artifacts and explains all of the above. The treasure hunter corp is still excavating the site. If this piques your interest, we highly recommend the 4 season HULU series “Black Sails.” Some of the details are historically accurate but much fiction was added to create the story. The captains were real as is the history of the battles and pirate culture. “Many Donuts” Our latest candidate for the Dr. Kevorkian Recipe Book is donuts from A Hole in One In Eastham. In Native American tradition, you are given a name derived from nature or representing a characteristic you possess. One of Neal’s tribe, Jim, endowed me with the name “Strong Mountain Woman.” Last time Neal was on the Cape, he purchased four dozen donuts to feed the crowd visiting Steve. Inspired by The Great Spirit, Neal was given the name “Many Donuts.” True this endowment, Neal bought two dozen to savor with the Sunday New York Times, adding yet another entry to the Dr. Kevorkian book. Nantucket Off the southern coast of Cape Cod, this small island was THE home to whaling back in the late 1600s to 1867 and was once one of the richest places in the U.S. It’s now a place for wealthy people to have a summer home (think the Obamas). We thought about staying there for one night but we couldn’t find accommodations for less than $400, and that’s off-season. After a ferry then picturesque 12 mile bike ride, (see Nantucket bike path pic)we hit the Whaling Museum. It was sad to read about how decimated the whale population became. The most interesting exhibit was about the whaling ship, the Essex. Apparently, the ship pissed off a sperm whale as they hunted. The whale broadsided and capsized it. Twenty-one guys survived long enough to get into lifeboats. For about 90 days they lived on a scant ration of hardtack and water......oh.......and each other as their boat mates began to die off. One boat drew straws and followed through with shooting and cannibalizing the loser of the draw. After interviewing the survivors, Herman Melville became inspired to write Moby Dick. “P-Town” Provincetown MA is known, is at the very tip of the cape. Yes, it’s where the Mayflower first landed but not where they ended up. That’s Plymouth, near the elbow. P-Town has gone from quaint fishing village to a tourist Mecca, one especially attractive to the LGBTQ community. We stayed at the Somerset House Inn (19th century bed and breakfast) in the center of town. The crazy narrow streets are lined with pricey stores, galleries, tourist shops, and great food. It was a tchotchke-buying-fest with purchases such as locally made cranberry jam. Bikes wind through the foot traffic that takes over the streets during the day. Rainbows everywhere! This heart plaque was all over town. I read that it symbolizes the community’s strength, resilience, and determination that they are determined to get through these times of uncertainty and find footing on firmer ground, not only as individuals but together as neighbors. Everyone here owns a dog, especially small ones. They walk them, carry them in their arms, in baby pouches, backpacks, and in special dog strollers. They frickin’ love their dogs! There’s a whale feeding ground a few miles off the coast where whales can reliably be spotted. Our boat (on board the Dolphin 10) saw at least 50 Humpback sightings, some within 50 feet of the boat. The day included two rarely seen activities, 2 breaches and a whale flipper slapping. Some blows were so close that folks on board could smell whale breath (described as acrid and pungent.) Clearly the whales are used to the boats who probably stir up the zoo and phytoplankton they like to eat. Here's a cool picture of a bird convention off the wharf. (see cool birds pic) On day two we hiked the huge dunes near the Atlantic side of the peninsula, stumbling onto a wild cranberry bog. When we were on the beach, we took a moment to close our eyes to really appreciate our senses: the feel and smell of the ocean breeze, the sound of the waves, the sun on our bodies, and the sand between our toes. Again, we visited our theme, “We may never pass this way again.” For a moment, everything was right in the world. Some recommendations:
  • Best Clam Chowder in P-Town: The Lunchbox (take-out) on Commerce Street

  • Best Ice Cream (of multitudes): Lewis Brothers

  • Funkiest souvenir store (reasonably priced): Marine Specialties

Janice loves old graveyards (we saw some cool old ones in Boston), so we ended our stay with a visit to the Provincetown cemetery. (See sailor headstone pic). There we encountered swarms of hungry, biting mosquitos. Wishing we were also dead, we decided we had enough and went to buy cranberry fudge at Cabot’s Candies. Onto Gettysburg..... Love, Neal and Janice “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” -Kurt Vonnegut

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