Report from Waltham

So, I did as I said I would and took the train down to Quincy and toured the three houses that part of the Adams National Historical Park.  There are two "birthplace homes" on a small lot, representing the early life of John Adams, and the much more stately Peacefield, a true mansion of a house, though considerably bigger now than it was after Abigail Adams's additions.  The family continued to add to it through time resulting in a truly magnificent house. 

Of interest to me were three points.  Being more acquainted with Southern Colonial residences, I was surprised to find the kitchens and the cooking areas within the main house. In most of the Southern House I've been in it is a separate building with a "butler's pantry" built into the house to serve as a warming station for food brought in from the kitchen.  The second point that impressed me is that nearly every room in the houses had a closet or storage space.  Again, in southern houses because these storage spaces were taxed in the way another room would be, often there were limited or few storage spaces.  Finally, what really impressed me was the magnificent stone library--the first "presidential" library in the United States, built to store John Quincy Adams's and Charles Francis Adams's books.  This is truly an inspiring and beautiful place and I've already informed my wife that I feel the need to have a similar edifice in the back yard.  She's dubious about that.

I know, this isn't a blog about historical wanderings, but I need to share the excitement of seeing these homes of one of my great heroes of intellect and principle--the man, who while fighting always for American independence and proper treatment of Americans also found it an abomination to curtail the rule of law--so much so that he defended and won acquittal for the soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre.

After Quincy, I went back into town and walked the freedom trail again--stopping at a different historic restaurant, but still following that horrible craving toward Mike's Pastry where I once again indulged in cannolis, the like of which cannot be found outside of Boston, New York, and perhaps Baltimore.  When I write my Á la recherche du temps perdu it will be the smell of and taste of cannoli that replace those of Madeleines.

On this particular freedom trail trek, I looked at something I've missed every other time.  I actually saw the Hall part of Faneuil Hall, which is upstairs over the market.  I also paid attention to the Famine Memorial, which is in front of a Borders bookstore across from the Old Corner Bookstore, and the Holocaust Memorial, which I had seen, but had not comprehended as a memorial, outside of the Union Oyster House.  Both extremely moving. 

Yesterday in my wanderings, I had passed through the Famine Memorial on my way into Borders when I heard someone literally singing for his supper--a man with a superb voice--operatically trained--maybe not the greatest tenor of all time, but certainly better than many a one I have heard on amateur and professional stage.  I recalled the little anecdote I had heard about people passing by Joshua Bell playing in the Washington Metro station without so much as second glance, so I spent a good five minutes or more listening before I went into the store and more when I came back out.

That's it for Boston.  Next week back to the grind and no telling how much I'll be able to post--so I will have to let this fill in for any absence during the week.


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