Fay and I had a tremendous travel experience in the fall of 1977. We had never been to New England, so the one week of New England's ?Historic ?Ports with the Smithsonian Study Tour was a marvel.
Twenty-five of us gathered for a orientation dinner and overnight at the ?Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. We had a charming young guide. It was her first group for the Smithsonian and she gave it that special effort and youthful enthusiasm that helped make it a great success. Everyone liked her.
Next morning our driver and guide gave us a circle tour of Boston's historic places--the Commons, Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill, Old Ironsides,--and we headed south for Plymouth.
The "Plymouth Plantation" may be the considered a "touristy" recreation of the Pilgrim days, but the found it fascinating. Beside a ?coude stockade were these dirty, smoke-filled houses, peopled by unwashed "Pilgrims" at work at spinning wheels, forges and carpenter's benches, creating the necessities of Colonial life. I have to say that the odors are just as memorable as the sights!
We went aboard the replica of the Mayflower and touched Plymoth Rock--and were just stunned that both were so small! The ladies of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society gave us a delicious lunch of clam chowder and spider bread. They were all dressed like Whistler's Mother!
Driving out Cape Cod we were given a chance to stroll on the beach at Cape Code National Seashore and Fay and I took off our shoes so we could wade in the Atlantic Ocean. The artists and pirates at Provincetown were appealing, and we had a special evening presentation about the early explorers and the history of the Cape. We stayed at a good motel that was designed like an old smuggler's or pirate's inn, reminding me of Alfred Noyes' poem "The Highwayman"
The following day we retraced our drive through the Cape and from Hyannis Port, wehre had a glimpse of the Kennedy Compound, we ferried to Nantucket. We were quartered for two nights at the Jared Coffin House, a particularly authentic and ?coreplete residence redolent of the wealthy shipping and whaling days that made Nantucket famous. The Smithsonian laid ?? visits to the whaling museum and mansions of some fo the most famous captains of Nantucket seafaring history--and a clambake, an ?entire new social experience to Arizonans!
Some good friends had driven up from Delaware to see us--and their daughter. They were former Tusconians, so we excused ourselves from the Smithsonian group briefly to be with them on Nantucket. Truly a happy reunion.
The ferry from Nantucket to Woods Hole, site of a marvelous aquarium and marine laboratory. This was some of the equipment used to locate the Titanic! Another ferry to Martha's Vineyard. Here we had a circle bus tour of the island and saw summer cottages of artistic and theatrical and literary people--and a revival-camp-comples of the Methodist Church.
At Edgartown, Fay and I were assigned to a charming bedroom that had been created in a farm, behind the Daggett House Inn. We had retired when I felt a slight jolt and heard "Ker-plunk." I looked out the window to discover our bedroom abutted the one-car ferry slip of that fateful ferry that Ted Kennedy missed-from Chappaquiddick! "Ker-plunk!"
When we returned to the mainland from Martha's Vineyard, the Smithsonian had for us another surprise--We went by motor ?coaches to ?Naushon in the Elizabeth Islands, a remote, undeveloped place owned by the Forbes family, and kept purposely primitive as a summer camping place for Forbes descendants--no roads, no electricity, no ?stores, etc. We had a catered lunch in a huge, brooding, greystone Wuthering Heights of a house--and I found, over a staircase a tintype photograph of Ralph Waldo Emerson with one of the Forbes children on his knee.
These islands, named after Elizabeth I, pluse Martha's Vineyward and Nantucket were described to Elizabeth's court by Drake, Cabot and other explorers of those days. It is said that William Shakespeare heard these tales of shipwrecks, terrible storms, and beautiful days thereafter and incorporated them in his next-to-last play "The Tempest". We found them very picturesque indeed.
Back on the mainland, our bus driver and guide had still another unannounced treat for us. We visited a cranberry bog at harvest time and were so fascinated to see the clumps of berries being raked up from under the water by werid rakes! Absolutely incredible that so common a national holiday dish as cranberry sauce should have such a strange beginning!
At Newport, Rhode Island we saw the "summer cottage" of the rich and famous of another era--the Astors, Vanderbilts, ?Harrimans, and Morgans. I had some feelings of disgust at the opulence and overblown elegance, but I have seldom seen so much ornate beauty in the decorative arts or craftsmanship, either. We visited the "Breakers" and had lucnh at "Marble House." Of course, we loved the sea air, the wonderful lobster dinner, and the view of the yachts and race courses reminiscent of America's Cup glory.
Last stop on the tour was Providence, Rhode Island, where we saw some fine examples of Colonial architecture and I learned more about period funiture than I need to know. The churches of Jonathan Edwards and other gave us an insight into the beginnings of the Mehodist and Congregational denominations. Fay and I got away from the group for a happy walk through the campus of Brown University, and I was thrilled to buy and "antique?" pistol from a "hippy" couple who were selling their belongings at a "stoop" sale.
The Smithsonian tour was over, but at Logan International Airport, Boston, Fay turned to me and said, "We can't go home yet, can we?", and I agreed. She had given up her only son to another woman, and I still had not seen the Autumn color! So we changed our return airline tickets, rented a car and drove north to Concord, New Hampshire. It was October 3, 1977.
Then we turned west on country roads to cross New Hampshire and Vermont in a blaze of color. It was so bright, so overwhelming we had to stop every hour or so to calm ourselves and wipe away the tears. Believe it!
The route was called the Molly Stark Trail, named in honor of the brave young woman of the American Revolution who "?rammed" a Yankee cannon to blast the Redcoats, and who cared for the wounded of both sides. At Brattleboro I got up at dawn and took a picture of a New England white church, a pond, and the glorious maples. It became our Christmas card.
At Bennington we saw the tower marking the nearby battle which denied supplies to the beleaguered British forces. The autumn foliage was at its height. It was like driving into a painting all day long!
When we reached New York, we were headed to see friends at ?Gloverville, so we decided to go norht along the Hudson River by small roads. As we passed through small towns we begain to see ?farmers proclaiming, "?Burgoyne, we got you!" etc.
And on October 7, 1977 we drove into the parking lot at Saratoga Natl Battlefield. There were six yellow school buses there and I wondered what was going on! How lucky can you get! It was the exact 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Saratoga and we were there for the Nat'l Park Rangers' presentation for the high school history studens of the area! Saratoga was called the "terminus point" of the Revolution. The hero of that battle was a brave young American officer was ?rallied the rag-tag colonists against the British, one Benedict Arnold! I shall never forget that day.
We went on to see the ?handsome racetrack at Saratoga and to have a fine visit with former Tucsonians who lived in ?Gloversville. Enroute to Boston, I spent a couple of hours at Wang Laboratories in Lowell, Massachussetts to get a "handle" on the burgeoning computer industry.
History, architecture, friends along the way--plus cranberreies and red, red leaves!
Curtiss H. Anderson