Finally we came out near the Navy shipyards. Our first stop was at Old Ironsides, one of American’s first naval sailing ships. It earned its name because cannon balls bounced off the sides made of sturdy Georgia oak. The ship museum is fascinating. There’s a section dedicated to the incredibly difficult life of the early American sailor. If you have kids, I think it’s a must see.
We boarded a bus for a tour of the town. We saw city hall with a life-size statue of Boston’s favorite son, JFK. There were pubs and brick buildings beautifully restored. As we passed a narrow alley, I thought I saw a Colonial soldier. I only caught glimpses here and there decided it was just a few people dressed for the holiday. Then we heard the shrill sound of fifes and the steady beat of drums. A corps of men dressed in Colonial uniforms, complete with white wigs, played for a crowd. The folks gathered, smiling and taking pictures. The corps stood behind an old iron fence in the courtyard of a stately brick building that had surely been there since 1776. The sight and sound felt like something out of time.
We saw Fenway Park, the Christian Scientist Center, million dollar neighborhoods and quaint streets that looked as if they could have been in London. We drove through a busy city area with a rose garden commemorating the birthplace of Rose Kennedy. When she lived there and for years after, the neighborhood was primarily of Irish ancestry. Now it’s 90% Italian. It amazed me how quickly our country changes and grows.
As we crossed the Charles River the skies grew dark and threatened rain, but that didn’t stop the pleasure boats from sailing to the middle of the river and putting down anchors. They were there in preparation for the Boston Pops’ Annual 4th of July Concert, ending with the booming 1812 Overture and fireworks across the water.
We crossed to the quiet, distinctive campuses of MIT and Harvard. As we drove down the hill, we entered a huge plaza, with a clock and crowds of shoppers. It made me glad we weren’t driving. If we had been, the trip would have become a nightmare.
As we reached the Charlestown ship yards, the sky opened up. Rain poured down. We hid beneath a tree. After all, we are Southern Californians and not used to the rain. At least, not so much rain. Then my husband remembered he’d put an umbrella in our back pack.
As we hurried down the soaked streets, between the tall, brick buildings of the Naval Yard, the rain pattered on our umbrella and a breeze came up. It brought with it the smell of old things, a whiff of green trees and the scent of the sea. I looked at Old Ironsides, bobbing at the dock and to the sails on the harbor beyond it. I turned the other way to the tall monument at the top of Bunker Hill, a reminder of our country’s beginnings. Behind me were the steel bands of a beautiful bridge. I never even got the name of it but I know I won’t forget it. I’ve already seen its distinctive lines in two movies. As we splashed through the puddles towards our car, I knew someday, I will come back to Boston. If I’m lucky, it will be near the 4th of July.