Monday, October 3, 2011

History, History, and More History; Our Last Full Day in Boston

I borrowed this photo and logo from the Union Oyster House website. For this part of our trip, my camera was still jammed and I was unable to take any photos.
Later, however, I used some Internet tips to get it somewhat un-stuck.

On our last full day in Boston, we had a lovely sidewalk breakfast at a little bookstore on Newbury Street called Trident Booksellers & Cafe. Newbury Street, I have just discovered, was underwater until the mid-1800s, when that part of the Boston Harbor was filled in. You can read about the street's history here.

We lunched with friends and family at the Prudential Center (mad, crazy, loud food court where there were too many people eating the wrong foods--but a nice visit); and we had an entirely spectacular supper with my son, Ben (up from New York City), and our friends, Pat and Mary (in from western Massachusetts), at "America's oldest restaurant," the Union Oyster House.

We either walked or took the "T" to all our destinations, and doing so gave us a sense of Boston's mixture of old and new streets, gardens, cemeteries, squares, sidewalks, and other public spaces;  its buildings, shops, and churches; and its incredibly varied architecture. We walked on sidewalks made of cement, and on sidewalks made of brick, and on sidewalks made of cobblestones--stepping back in time, more or less.

On our way to supper, we stopped at the New England Holocaust Memorial, located right across the street from the restaurant. We knew nothing about it ahead of time; we simply saw six tall towers made of glass in a little park and wondered what they were all about. It was only when I was standing inside the first tower that the power of the memorial struck me, because each of those towers was inscribed with etched numbers--numbers, not names. The numbers went up and up and out of sight, and standing there, I understood why there were six towers, because each one represented a million people who had lost their lives. It was a very powerful way of illustrating the horror and inhumanity of the Holocaust.

You can see a photo essay about the memorial here on the official website. If you should visit Boston, I urge you to visit this memorial, because it is one of those experiences that will change you and stay with you forever.

Being inside the Union Oyster House was an amazing experience of a different sort. No one knows exactly when the building was constructed (although historians know that Union Street was laid out in 1636), but it is known that the restaurant has been in continuous service since 1826. Our booth had a sign telling us that at the Oyster Bar Daniel Webster, a constant customer, daily drank his tall tumbler of brandy and water with each half-dozen oysters, seldom having less than six plates. Our modern appetites were somewhat curbed by the later discovery of cholesterol, but we still managed to get ourselves around helpings of lobster, clams, and oysters. Our server--Maggie? Meggie?--had the thickest Boston accent I have ever heard, so it was easy to imagine ourselves back in the time of the Revolution, perhaps plotting tea parties over our oysters. 

9 comments:

Mary Hulser said...

sweet memories...this was a wonderful write-up of a wonderful day!

Margie's Musings said...

What a nice trip you have had.

ladyfi said...

Fascinating history. Did you take any pictures?

clairz said...

ladyfi, I was still having camera trouble at this point and wasn't able to take any photos.

Michelle Meaders said...

"but it is known that the restaurant has been in continuous service since 1826"

I bet we have restaurants in New Mexico that are 'way older than that!

Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

Gotta comment quick...blogger is hating me today! I can go to any other site in a flash, but blogs sometimes load and mostly don't. Grrrrrr.

I don't know how we could have missed going to this museum when we were in Boston 2 years ago and again last Spring...not like us! Will have to take a trip to see it.

clairz said...

Michelle, good point. Easterners tend to think they have all the history, when there were great civilizations thriving out here well before the Pilgrims were gleams in the mother's eyes; and we have a city (Santa Fe) more ancient than they ever thought of being!

clairz said...

Deb, I just read this description of the design of the Holocaust Memorial (from their website, linked above):

The design utilizes uniquely powerful symbols of the Holocaust. The Memorial features six luminous glass towers, each 54 feet high. The towers are lit internally to gleam at night. They are set on a black granite path, each one over a dark chamber which carries the name of one of the principal Nazi death camps. Smoke rises from charred embers at the bottom of these chambers. Six million numbers are etched in glass in an orderly pattern, suggesting the infamous tattooed numbers and ghostly ledgers of the Nazi bureaucracy. Evocative and rich in metaphor, the six towers recall the six main death camps, the six million Jews who died, or a menorah of memorial candles.

I would love to see it at night. Just imagine the power.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I love this post. We MUST get to Boston soon. I really like that you were able to take public transportation to all these great places. Wonderful that you just stumbled on the Holocaust Museum -- and if we get to go to Boston we'll be sure to see it. We can't forget!