Visiting Boston on Independence Day
Posted on July 4, 2016
During the July 4th celebrations forty years ago, my Dad took my brothers and me to Boston.
It was my first time on an airplane, and the first time we had taken an extended vacation trip without my mother.
My parents were separated, heading their way to splitsville, and Dad wanted to show us a good time.
It was also the Nation’s bicentennial, so everybody was feeling very patriotic.
Boston, the rock band not the city, had just released their iconic and brilliant self-titled album and as a twelve-year old going on thirteen, it hit all the right notes for a kid who was entering puberty with a whimper.
Even back when I was twelve, I was huge history buff. I read everything there was to read about the Revolutionary War. I even put together a model of the first shots of the war with toy soldiers lining up on one side of the battle and the other just as the history books depicted it.
I think I did it for a school project (things are a bit hazy in my mind) but I would have done it anyway. I was that into the Revolutionary War.
My Dad did a good job showing us around. We toured Boston, of course,
We checked out Concord and Lexington. We drove down to Plymouth Rock.
I remember, vaguely, my Dad doing a lot of driving on the Cape and we getting lost on occasion. My brothers and I weren’t the best of back seat drivers, but of course, neither was my Mother, who wasn’t there to navigate.
One stop we made was to Provincetown. Things were changing in Provincetown, and my Dad slipped out for a drink one night, only to come back early. The bartender informed him that he and my dad were the only two straight guys in the whole place. We left the next day.
We travelled by boat to Martha's Vineyard, where we saw where they shot scenes from Jaws, which was released a year earlier. That movie still freaks me out. I hate sharks.
I write about this trip forty years hence, because my wife and I took my son and my daughter Molly to Boston this weekend to celebrate the 240 anniversary of this wonderful country.
We checked out a Red Sox game yesterday. Fenway Park hasn’t changed much in the last forty years, I assume. We didn’t make to the game when I was with my dad.
Today, we went to the Boston Tea Party museum. Jack, who is ten, loved it. And he learned during the very interactive experience that colonists were really, really pissed off about being forced to pay their taxes without getting any representation in the Parliament.
He hasn’t focused much on the fact that we live in the District of Columbia, and we too don’t have a vote in Congress. Taxation without representation remains tyranny.
We took a Duck Tour of the City, which wasn’t available to my family when we travelled to Boston in 1976. It was a great way to learn about the city and its place in our Nation’s history.
I vaguely remember Boston in 1976 as a dirtier, grimier, tougher city than it is today.
Back in 1976, Gerald Ford was President. The country was reeling from the twin shocks of Watergate and Viet Nam. We weren’t winning any more.
The Bicentennial was supposed to be a time when we renewed our knowledge about our nation’s history. A lot of time and effort was spent trying to get average citizens to know the basics about our Founding Fathers.
Remember School House Rock? That was done during that time frame for precisely that reason.
I am not sure if it worked for everybody, but it worked for me.
I loved that stuff.
I try to take the long view of history.
Times weren’t great in the 1970’s. We had some serious problems. High crime. Cultural rot. Bad economy. Political meltdown.
But somehow, we made it past those bad days to where we are today.
My dad helped to inspire in me a love of history and an appreciation for all of the sacrifices that our Founding Fathers made to make America great.
I don’t know if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will win this November, but I do know that America will keep getting better no matter who the President is.
We will have some good times and some bad times but America will continue to improve.
We have a great thing going here and a political system built for the long-haul.
So, Happy Birthday America. Keep doing what you are doing.