But first, before we completely forget what we did this week, our weekly recap:
Monday – Hot and humid outside so of course we went for a long walk. Eventually found refuge at a Whole Foods, bought groceries, and had a stuffed potato and spaghetti squash for dinner in our apartment.
Tuesday – Hot and humid outside so of course we went for a long walk to South Boston! Found a real cool (atmosphere and temperature) hole in the wall restaurant called Yankee Lobster for lunch, toured the Harpoon Brewery, and went to a local tavern called Porter’s for dinner. Came home and took a long cold shower.
Wednesday – Rained all day. We worked out in the building’s gym, walked to Regina Pizzeria (um…North End Italian) for lunch, watched several episodes of House of Cards.
Thursday – A gorgeous day. Took advantage and went for a long run along the Charles River (poor Robin worked all morning), had lunch in, and picked up our friend Ina Miller who is in town for business and family reunion, at the Airport (our third pick-up at the airport…..does that make us honorary locals?). Decided on dinner at this nice Italian restaurant in the North End (have I mentioned………..) called Ristorante Fiore. We had a nice leisurely meal highlighted by our very knowledgeable and authentically Italian waiter Anthony (seems most waiters in the North End are named Anthony).
Friday – Another beautiful day. We decided to visit Minute Man National Historical Park (Lexington and Concord) which commemorates the events of April 19, 1775 and the start of the American Revolution. It was a great tour and we saw and learned so much.
Joseph Warren (remember him from a prior post? later killed at the battle of Bunker Hill…..on Breed’s Hill), aware that the British “Regulars” were planning to march to Concord (through Lexington) to seek out and confiscate the Colonial Militia’s stored armaments, arranged for Paul Revere and William Dawes to ride out to Lexington and then to Concord. Their primary mission was to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were holed up in Hancock’s boyhood home in Lexington (the Hancock-Clarke house), to leave, or risk being arrested and tried for treason. Once accomplished, they were then to ride to Concord to warn the Militia that the British Regulars were coming (the weapons had already been relocated). It was the mission of several other couriers via a prearranged alarm system (musket shots, drums, church bells) to alert the many local Militia’s Minute Men to prepare for possible battles in Lexington and Concord. These couriers in Charlestown, across the river from Boston, were the recipients of Revere’s arranged lantern signals from the North Church. Revere took the route across the Charles River and became famous decades later due to Longfellow’s (extremely historically inaccurate) poem “Paul Revere’s Ride”. Who knows….it may have been called “William Dawes Ride” had Dawes thought of the lantern signal instead of Revere.
Anyway, both riders made it to Lexington, warning patriots along the way, warned Hancock and Adams (who said they would leave but didn’t), joined up with another rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott, and took off for Concord. Turns out only Prescott made it to warn the Militia in Concord as the three of them were stopped by a British patrol shortly after leaving Lexington. Prescott made it past the troops, Revere was captured, Dawes lost his horse but got away through the woods.
Eventually the 700 British Regulars made it to Lexington where they ran into 77 Lexington Militiamen, commanded by Captain Parker. Parker decides to have the Militia move out of the way and let the British Regulars pass, but a shot is fired (a common theme in those days……no one knows exactly which side shot first) prompting Lieutenant Colonel Smith to order the Regulars to fire on the Colonials. Eight Colonials die, the Regulars celebrate and march on toward Concord.
By the time the British troops get to Concord and start searching for munitions, 500 militiamen are waiting on a hillside on one side of the town’s North Bridge. They soon see smoke coming from the town and assume the British are burning the town while searching for the supplies (actually is was a small fire from burning a few found muskets that got out of control and the British were trying to put it out). The Militia decide to confront the Regulars that are guarding the bridge. So here we have the two armies separated by a 50 foot bridge. The Regulars fire a shot (shot heard ’round the world) and a battle ensues. The Regulars take the worst of it and start a hasty retreat back toward Boston (18 miles).
Throughout the day the Militia grows in size (an answer to the call from the alarm system initiated by Revere, Dawes, and others) and constantly ambush the British Regulars on their retreat. Captain Parker (Lexington Militia who took a beating earlier in the day) gets a measure of revenge on the British during their retreat back through Lexington. By the time the British get reinforcements and make their way back to Charlestown and Boston, the Militiamen number several thousand and inflict heavy (by Revolutionary War standards) causalities.
BTW, Revere gets taken back to Lexington by the British troops that captured him. He gets released (they keep his horse) as the troops are spooked by how the battle turned against them in Concord. Revere goes back to the Hancock – Clarke house, sees that Hancock and Adams have yet to leave, throws a fit, and gets the two of them into hiding. That tidbit was learned through later newspaper interviews with Hancock’s then fiancee (later wife) who was staying at the house as well.
The National Park trail is the actual path taken by the British Regulars from Lexington to Concord and then back to Lexington. Now called Battle Road, we visited several sites including where Revere was captured, a few homes and taverns where battles took place, and a couple key road crossings where the British were ambushed. At the Hartwell Tavern (still standing) we saw an actor demonstrate how a musket was fired (14 steps). We also got a personal tour of the Hancock – Clarke house in Lexington…..fascinating, and a tour of the Lexington Green where the Colonials who were the first to die that day were killed and are now buried.
Have to give credit to the National Park Service. The sites and trails are wonderfully preserved and presented. The guides are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the actors persevere in their red and blue coats on even the most hot and humid of days!
We also got a sense of the rivalry between the towns of Lexington and Concord. The first shot that day happened in Lexington while the more famous “shot heard around the world” was fired in Concord. So, both towns claim to be the site where the Revolution started. Perhaps if Ralph Waldo Emerson lived near the Lexington Green instead of next to the North Bridge in Concord (his grandparents actually watched the battle from their bedroom windows; you can visit the Emerson “The Old Manse” home right next to the bridge), he would have written his famous poem (Concord Hymn….with the line “shot heard ’round the world”) for a monument dedication in Lexington instead of for the monument (obelisk picture above) in Concord. Ah, the power of the pen. And now you know the rest of the story…….
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard ’round the world”
While hiking the trail, we got an invitation from Ina (staying with her friend Drew at his house in Jamaica Plain) for dinner. So after the tours we headed to Drew’s house for a great dinner and evening with Ina, Drew and their friend Gail. We had a wonderful time sharing stories and eating delicious barbecued swordfish. Drew is a photographer extraordinaire (we were amazed by his photos from recent trips abroad) and has a great pet rabbit Max. Thanks Drew and Ina and Gail for a very entertaining night!
Saturday – Took the T to Revere Beach for the National Sand Sculpting Festival. Twenty contestants (international) are given an 18′ x 18′ foot plot on the beach, 15 tons of sand and a day and a half to complete their sculptures. Amazing. Just incredible. Here are some of our favorites:
Went to Bianchi’s for Pizza (thanks for the recommendation Gail) and had a nice lunch on the beach. Stopped at the Haymarket farmer’s market for some fresh fruit on the way home and wound up taking a nice (unintentional) nap. Plan to watch the final round of the British open tomorrow and plan for the week ahead.