Oysters, Missiles, Drug Dealers, Fiesta Sinfonica, Dead Batteries, and Mansions.

Sunday – Had a great dinner at the Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square (near Fenway Park and Boston U.)  Thanks LeVays and Martins for the anniversary gift!  We enjoyed oysters from Duxbury MA and Point Judith RI.  We were quite impressed with our waiter who was able to explain the exact differences between the 15 types of oysters on the menu.  Typically all we have to decide on is whether to order half a dozen or a dozen!

Monday – Took the T to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. This was our first trip to a Presidential Library and we enjoyed it so much that we will start looking for others.  Fascinating displays included JFK’s early years, the 1960 presidential campaign, the White House Corridor (as it looked during his administration) and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  There are also rooms dedicated to Jackie’s life, RFK, PT 109, the Space Program, and November 22, 1963.

With the Shah of Iran and his wife......remember them?

With the Shah of Iran and his wife……remember them?

PT 109 artifacts

PT 109 artifacts

The coconut used to send a message for help ....11 alive need small boat,,,Kennedy

The coconut used to send a message for help ….11 alive / need small boat /Kennedy

We were most intrigued by the Cuban Missile Crisis exhibit.  JFK secretly tape recorded all the meetings he had with his crisis team and the key recordings are available for listening throughout the display’s timeline. Even 52 years later, it is chilling to hear how close we came to an all out war with the Soviet Union over the missiles.  In fact, all the Joint Chief of Staffs strongly advocated air strikes followed by a complete invasion of Cuba (very convincing on the tapes), which Kennedy was reluctant to do as he was convinced the Soviets would retaliate by invading Berlin.  Kennedy however, also felt an invasion was probably imminent given the stalled diplomatic efforts. He actually had a speech all prepared announcing the invasion (instead, thankfully, he gave the navel blockade speech).  It was also interesting to learn how slow and difficult the communications were between the White House and Kremlin. Key communications were mostly done through back channels, so once the crisis abated, the “Red Telephone” was installed in Moscow and Washington allowing instant communications.  Glad we were only 5 years old at the time!

Tuesday – Dropped off the car (in perfect working order) at the local Land Rover dealership for scheduled servicing.  Once back, we walked to Sam LaGrassa’s (thanks kids for the gift certificate) to pick up sandwiches for our picnic at the Commons.  On the way we stopped  by the King’s Chapel Burying Ground and visited the site of Mary Chilton’s grave (passenger on the Mayflower).  We thought William Dawes Jr (the other rider to Lexington) was also buried there, and there is a marker, but apparently there is compelling evidence his remains were moved to a graveyard in Jamaica Plain….so who knows.  Odd the marker is still at King’s Chapel.

Mary with husband John Winslow. He arrived on the next boat!

Our picnic was interesting.  We found this great bench in the Commons, in the shade, next to the enormous Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument.  Turns out this particular location is a favorite for Boston’s drug dealers. I wanted to relocate, but Robin was too interested (and too comfortable) so we stayed put and enjoyed our lunch and the show. She felt like she was in an episode of The Wire.  Here’s our lunch…..didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures of the entertainment.

Yes, those are half sours from Sam Lagrassas.

Yes, those are half sours from Sam LaGrassa’s.

Nice spot in the garden for reading.

Nice spot in the garden for reading.

Wednesday – Worked out, drove out to Sudbury to pick up the car (looks great Mr. Feldman…..). Went to concert on the Esplanade, Fiesta Sinfonica, presented by the Boston Landmark Orchestra.  This was part of Boston’s free summer concert program which takes place each Wednesday in historic and scenic Boston area locations.  The concert featured Latin Music and dancing including Cuban Overture (kind of a Cuban themed week…..now where are the cigars?) by Gershwin.  We got a couple chairs, brought some popcorn and had a great time.  Had a late dinner at Boston Beer Works and called it a day.

The loaner "old home"

The loaner “old home”

Fiesta sonphona

Fiesta Sinfonica on the Esplanade

Thursday – Well, since the car was washed at the dealership, I decided I would take advantage and apply a coat of wax in the apartment building garage.  Since most of the cars near our spot in the garage were gone for the day, I was able to put it directly under the lights and got prepared to go to work.  It was then I noticed the car wasn’t clean at all. So since I was determined to wax the car that morning, I googled car washes near me and found one just down the road.  Now clean and back in the garage, I set out to wax the thing.  And I was making great progress, wax on…..wax off, move the car (lighting), wax on …wax off, move the car and so on.  Finally I was done.  The car looked great, ready for another 10,000 miles and months of abuse.  Just needed to clean up and park back in our spot.  Except the car would not start.  Dead as a door nail……and blocking no less than 6 other parking spots…..on the third floor of a downtown parking garage (google….”want to get away?”).  Did I leave car doors open while working? No. Did we leave a light on overnight?  No.  Is it my imagination that cars are most likely to break down within a day or two of being serviced?  Fortunately I was able to get the building manager to jump start the car, drove back to Sudbury and after some discussion, got the battery replaced.

It was a long day.  So……what does one do after a long day?  One goes to the North End for an nice Italian dinner!  We got a great table at Carmelina’s and had drinks and pasta. Much better.

Ceaser Salad at Carmalita's.  With anchovies!

Caesar Salad at Carmelina’s. With anchovies!

Friday – Got up early and headed for Newport to see the “Gilded Age” mansions.  Back in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, the extremely rich and famous built their summer homes in Newport, Rhode Island.  And…they spared no expense in doing so.  The Vanderbilts (shipping and railroad empire), Astors (trading, real estate), Wideners (steel and tobacco) and the Berwinds (coal) chose Newport for their summer getaways.  We decided to visit “The Breakers” and “The Marble House”, both Vanderbilt originals.  I won’t go into detail on the homes (they are all miniatures of Biltmore……see our post from Asheville) so let’s just say they are all excessively opulent.  The American version of European castles.  Really something to see.

In the backyard of the Breakers

In the backyard of the Breakers

View from the balcony

View from the balcony

The balcony

The balcony

Front entry at Marble House.  Yes, it is pretty much all made of marble

Front entry at Marble House. Yes, it is pretty much all made of marble.

More mansions....

More mansions….

Looking forward to a great last week in Boston….and maybe one last North End dinner.


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