Travelogues

Travelogue #11 – Boston – the fun stuff

So hopefully you read the previous blog about why I was in Boston for so long. The good thing about hanging around for so long was that I got to do a lot in between car repairs.

By the way, I’m back on the road and the car seems to be fine (*crosses fingers*).

Let’s see if I can remember what I did and when.

As we waited to hear from the first mechanic, my friends took me on a tour of their hometown. It’s a small place about thirty minutes outside of Boston. Everyone knows everyone else, which is one of the reasons they enjoy living there – they know all their neighbors. Though urban sprawl appears to be inching its way in with larger planned communities starting up. Hopefully that won’t disrupt the charm.

The town has a fairly large mental hospital that has been around for a very long time. Next to the hospital is a cemetery that supposedly has somewhere between 8,500 and 10,000 burials! It’s referred to as the Pauper Cemetery.

Founded in 1892, the hospital was originally called the Tewksbury Almshouse. Many patients were destitute immigrants, many from Ireland. They accepted the poor, the “pauper insane,” alcoholics, and patients with contagious diseases like TB. It was built for 500 but housed more than 2,000. It’s most famous resident was Anne Sullivan, who became Helen Keller’s teacher. Because most patients were indigent, most deaths were not recorded and the bodies were buried in an enormous pauper’s grave.

The “cemetery” is basically an enormous wooded area with trails leading through it so people can just walk through it. Kind of creepy, I know. But if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was just another beautiful area in Massachusetts. You’d be wrong.

However, at some point, a group decided that these people needed to be identified and have proper markers restored. As they began to dig around, they found small metal markers buried deep in the dirt. A community effort has begun to restore all of these markers and make sure any living relatives are notified.

My friends discovered this when they first moved to town. They went walking through the cemetery, not knowing about it, and discovered the markers. They researched them and found the history. So, of course, they had to take me there.

 

The forest is very pretty and not too dense. It was moving to see so many markers lined up, one after another. Little flags marked the ones that had not been dug up yet. Row upon row upon row of them. Hard to believe that so many people died there. Very moving that there are people out there who care enough to make sure these people are recognized.

From there, we went over to the actual Tewksbury Hospital, where apparently scenes from “Castle Rock” have been filmed.

The hospital itself is quite beautiful. Old structures that have been preserved as newer buildings were added. The building used for “Castle Rock”, though, was in a sad state, despite what they had done to preserve it for the show.

But the coolest building was an abandoned one. We walked over there and I fell in love. Shattered windows, a staircase barely clinging to the building, lots of intriguing stuff inside. I love places like that.

I went inside the main floor, which was dark and creepy. The ceiling was falling down in places. It was so beautiful in its decay. I walked around carefully, making sure I didn’t step on any of the broken pieces of detritus littered around.

I came outside, studying the staircase, wondering if it would hold me.

You know I had to find out.

I climbed it, praying it didn’t break apart. And it didn’t. It was much more solid than it seemed.

I got to the top and was rewarded with a room filled with all kinds of interesting things and intriguing architecture. I took a million pictures because I might want to paint it some day.

Made my way carefully down and didn’t break anything. My semi-regular yoga practice helped me stretch as I climbed up and down.

It was one of the best things I’ve done on this trip.

I picked up my car, which wasn’t fixed but I didn’t know that at the time. Read the previous blog for all the details.

I took a day trip to Salem.

What a charming, beautiful little town. Very steeped in tradition, it was an amazing day, wandering and exploring.

I started at the Salem Witch Museum.

 

They give you a little presentation about the history of the Salem Witch Trials. The presentation was cheesy, featuring dioramas with stilted figured and weirdly posed mannequins. But the information was fascinating. I always thought only Salem had witch trials. I didn’t realize it was a world-wide situation that started in France. And that only 19 people were killed in the trails. However, so many ended up in prison. I’m glad I went because I learned a lot about those trials.

I walked around for hours. I loved that so many of the houses had little plaques about who built the house and who it was built for.

The city embraces its history and shares it with everyone who cares to see. I finally staggered home after walking for more than five miles.

I then ventured into Boston the next day.

Boston is incredible. Like Chicago, the architecture was amazing. Old world and beautiful.

I started in Boston Commons. I was kind of disappointed until I walked across the street to the gardens.

First, the was a wonderful group of musicians busking near the water. They were wonderful! I tipped them generously.

I found a huge group of geese, which I couldn’t resist. I followed them, taking tons of pictures. One kind of stalked me for a bit.

Then I found the little statue of ducks honoring Robert McCloskey for his book, “Make Way For Ducklings”. I loved that they had little masks on as well.

From there, I did the tourist thing and had lunch at Cheers. I couldn’t resist. I’m a huge fan of the show. The bar was very cool and I could see how it inspired the show. Even down to the tourists sitting and chatting with the bartender, though I’m sure they pick bartenders who are willing to play to the public.

From there, I walked all over, starting in Chinatown and walking back in a circle to the Cranary Burial Ground. So many fascinating headstones. I’ve become sort of obsessed with cemeteries on this trip. This one had markers over a century old as well as many of Boston’s elite.

I met my friend, Anthony, and his wife for a quick drink at the Quincy Market. It was so nice to catch up with them. They came through California a while ago but I’m always happy to spend time with them.

The whirlwind continued when my friends took me to Harvard.

Such a beautiful campus. Such intriguing architecture. We wandered for a bit then grabbed some lunch from a food truck.

From there, we went to Central Square, a very artisty community near Harvard. It was amazing.

We walked the streets and I ended up having a fascinating conversation with a young man who was painting a mural on a wall.

We had a great discussion about how to use spray paint to make such fine lines. He let me play with the spray paint and try to create the lines. He said it was like doing yoga, moving in a single straight line with perfect pressure. I appreciated that he took the time to talk to me and explain his process.

Then we got to the alley where artists just let loose and paint.

They spray paint over other art and make it their own. Several artists were already working on something when we got there. It was a blast to watch them work.

We walked a bit more, finding a new art store. I tried not to spend too much but did splurge on a few things.

By the time we got home, we were all exhausted but happy.

The rest of the time in Boston was spent hanging out with my friends, working on the new “The Buddha Cat” book and just relaxing. It was nice to have a place to rest for a couple of weeks, though I was anxious to get moving once the car was ready to go.

So after three weeks in Boston, Indiana Jones and I were on to … Washington! Stay tuned.

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