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Take a Boston City Break

August 20, 2010 by · Comments Off on Take a Boston City Break 

Old North Church

My brother and sister-in-law are planning a Boston City Break with the help of my daughter, who lives in nearby, Sudbury.  Boston makes one terrific destination for history buffs.

My favorite site is Old North Church, place where Paul Revere hung the famous lantern–one if my land, and two if by sea--the phrase, combined with my last name, that lead to the name of this website.

While in the North End, I always stop for dinner at one of the small Italian restaurants. No chain eateries here, these are Mom and Pop establishments handed down over generations. The homemade pasta delights the palate and the budget.

Consider a walk along the Freedom Trail, tour of Faneuil Hal marketplacel or the Paul Revere House. Kids love to step aboard the Boston Tea Party ship and participate in a reenactment of the historic protest.

Further out in the suburbs, the neighboring towns of Lexington and Concord beckon with an authentic colonial era look and feel.  Every April the famous battle that officially started the Revolutionary War is played out at dawn for spectators. A stop at The Wayside Inn for lunch will make you think you have stepped back in time.

The Boston area offers so much to see and do, a quick break doesn’t suffice. Plan to stay a week for a true taste of New England’s heritage.

Interior of Faneuil Hall

Stopping by Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts

October 1, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Wayside Inn SignOn a crisp, rainy September afternoon I pulled up to the bucolic Wayside Inn, in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The sign post near the road boasts “food, drink and lodging for man, woman and beast.” I hoped I didn’t fit into the last category.

As soon as I entered, a warm welcoming aura enveloped me. The scent of smoky wood burning fireplaces mixed with the aroma of fresh baked bread and pies. The candlelight tavern bustled with activity, as it has for almost 300 years. Patrons were sitting at wooden tables enjoying meals and conversation. A bride and her wedding party stood near the entrance. Waiters and waitresses scooted about with food and drink trays.

The old tap room (part of the original building) overflowed with laughter from guests standing at the colonial cage bar. A cage- bar was standard in 18th-century taverns, used to secure the house whiskey, rum and wine from lodgers unknown to the innkeeper.Wayside Inn Bar

Eight guest rooms lined a wing on the second floor; my room, number seven, rested at the end of the hall. The space was small and rustic, authentic to the colonial era. An antique double bed covered with a white spread filled the room. Two windows were draped with tab curtains. A wooden chair sat in the corner and an armoire awaited guest’s clothing. The end table featured a framed print of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the private bath included standard modern fixtures.

Sadly I did not fully experience the Inn’s New England hospitality as family commitments kept me elsewhere. Nonetheless, I relished a good night’s sleep in a place with much ambiance and history.

Room in the Wayside InnThe following morning I awoke before dawn, hastily dressing for my 6:30 AM ride to the airport. Everyone else was asleep except for a friendly night watchman, who offered me a cup of coffee and a brief history of the place.

Seems the Wayside is the oldest operating tavern in the US on one of the oldest commissioned roads. David Howe opened the establishment in 1716 as Howe’s Inn, offering provisions for men, their horses and cattle. The renovated old barn rests across the road.

Tradition says Colonel Ezekiel Howe changed the name to The Red Horse, when he succeeded his father in 1746. Colonel Howe led Sudbury farmers to Concord on April 19, 1775, the famous battle that started the Revolutionary War.

After Longfellow published “The Tales of a Wayside Inn’ in 1863, The Red Horse became known as Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, as it remains today.

In 1923, auto maker Henry Ford bought the Inn with the intention of creating a living museum of Americana. The property passed through several trusts and is presently administrated by a non-paid board of trustees dedicated to preserving the historic house and surrounding acreage. All of the Inn’s revenue is used for maintenance and restoration.

I highly recommend Longfellow’s Inn as a way to support cultural heritage and experience the days of Paul Revere and Sam Adams.Wayside Inn -6x4

If you go:

The town of Sudbury lies close to Lexington and Concord, suburbs of Boston. Visitors find many colonial sites and museums in the area, as well as the birthplaces of early American poets and authors.

The Inn’s multiple-roomed restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serves traditional Yankee fare like Clam Chowder and pot roast.

Make reservations early for one of just ten guest rooms, all individually decorated with country antiques and discreet wireless Internet access. Breakfast included. Single occupancy $104-125, double occupancy $125-175. www.waysideinn.org, 978 443-1776.

A Wake-Up Call: The Re-Enactment of the Battle of Lexington

April 29, 2009 by · Comments Off on A Wake-Up Call: The Re-Enactment of the Battle of Lexington 

lexington-battle-5x3.jpg

Redcoats fire their muskets

One lantern in Old North Church meant that the British were marching on land.  Paul Revere galloped on horseback from Boston to Lexington. He spread the alarm, awakening every house along the road.

I was warned to awaken by the alarm on my cell phone. I knew, “The British were coming, get down to the town green.”  And by the time I arrived at 5:00 AM, a huge crowd had gathered.

In Massachusetts, The Battle of Lexington is re-enacted yearly on Patriot’s Day, on the very ground were it first took place in 1775. From the actions on that field the Revolutionary War began.

Today locals participate in costume, some taking on the role of  anarchists or members of the British regiment.  Many children also dress in colonial garb. They stay with their mothers, running onto the battle field after the conflict to tend the wounded, while other young lads beat drums in the corps.

The battle has been staged for 38 years to honor those who fought for our freedom. The scene is solemn, the crowd is hushed and the participants act with pride. The pre-dawn ceremonies begin with an announcer recounting the story of April 19, 1775, the fateful day of “the shot heard round the world .”

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The British Regiment

The actual fight was very brief; the colonists were confused and lacked leadership. The British regiment marched in unison, their lobster red coats piercing the early morning fog.

No one knows who fired the first shot, but after it was heard, mayhem broke out on the green and the local militia retreated. They were defeated in the skirmish, fell back and regrouped.

In 1775, many colonists traveled to nearby Concord to join other rebels. There they surprised and over powered the British. All day, they attacked the troops along what is now called Battle Road .

As I watched from the back of the crowd, the young children around me gasped at the face to face combat and rifle smoke. The teens were drawn into eye witnessing living history.  But, I was awestruck by the bravery of the fighting men.  The courage and bravado these first Americans showed was immense; they truly were passionate in their beliefs.

The crowd of thousands, present at the early hour, bespoke of their reverence for the day. I viewed the event as a wake up call, one that left me with a clearer understanding of Patriot’s Day and the debt we owe our forefathers.

The Boston area offers a variety of activities on this holiday weekend:  the annual Boston marathon, Red Sox games, the re-enactment of Paul Revere’s ride and the battles at Lexington and Concord. However, the small town of Lexington (population 30,000) deserves to be especially proud of the dignity preserved during their event. The re-enactment at dawn runs on time, remaining faithful to history. I was humbled and honored to stand on sacred ground.

Meeting the volunteer actors

Meeting the volunteer actors after the battle


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