Friday, June 27, 2008
I didn't see the police blotter, my favorite feature in the paper, up on the web site, though. You could always count on priceless police incidents like the time a woman called the police to report her car windshield was gone only to call back to report it was just so clean she couldn't see it or the time time a resident near the high school called to report a huge snowball fight at the school, except it turned out to be the first day of softball practice. Good stuff.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
If anyone is interested in visiting Spectacle Islanda and learning more about the Boston Harbor Islands, I'll be giving presentations at 1 PM and 3 PM on July 20 at the Spectacle Island visitor center about some of the stories we tell in Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands. Books will be on sale at the event.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
If you're looking for a summer rental, you may want to search for a property on FlipKey, a newly launched web site. FlipKey lists over 50,000 vacation homes in all 50 states that are available for rent. What makes FlipKey unique is that it allows registered users to rate properties, so it's very similar to TripAdvisor, the popular hotel rating web site. Like TripAdvisor, FlipKey creates profiles of the properties, authenticating them for potential vacationers. And, like TripAdvisor, it enables users to rate the properties after stays. So if a "staycation" is in your future and you're not venturing far from Boston, check it out.
Monday, June 9, 2008
It was my first time out to the island in spring, and the sea roses were full of pink and white blooms. (The beach, however, is being rebuilt and is scheduled to be open mid- to late June, so if you're going specifically for the sand and surf, you should check to see if the project is done.) On previous trips to Spectacle Island, I've seen numerous people out strolling the beach searching intently for artifacts that have washed ashore. As we talk about in Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands, the shoreline of Rainsford Island is strewn with interesting relics that have been churned up by the surf. But I had never spent much time searching the beach on Spectacle Island that runs southward from the dock.
Boy had I been missing out. The beach is filled with a full spectrum of frosted, polished sea glass. White, green, blue, brown. Even more interesting to me were the pottery shards scattered on the beach. There were pieces of china of all different colors and patterns. Looked like the bull in the china shop had just barreled through. Some of these pottery shards date back decades or even more than 100 years, back to a time when Bostonians threw their refuse right in the harbor from the wharves. You kind of feel like an archaeologist wondering the origin and the stories behind the plateware. Who had used these plates before? What were the social occasions like? Did they come from a shipwreck? Or one of the many institutions that used to exist on the islands?
I know it's tempting to pocket these little artifacts, and many people like to collect the sea glass, but the park management requests that you leave footprints and take pictures but leave the artifacts behind so the next person can get the same thrill of discovery.
FYI, I'll be giving a talk out on Spectacle Island on July 20 at 1 PM and 3PM for the book, so it's a great time to come and check it out yourself.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Denise was nice enough to send me a fantastic restored photograph from the day the memorial was unveiled, which I've posted here. Based on newspaper accounts, the date of the unveiling and the photograph appears to have been November 14, 1888.
According to one newspaper account of the unveiling, Governor Oliver Ames and Boston Mayor Hugh O'Brien gave brief remarks at the ceremony at the monument, which is depicted in the picture. Following the ceremony, the crowd marched to the location of the site where the Boston Massacre occurred, and a brief ceremony was held there. Then the crowd proceeded to Faneuil Hall where the governor and mayor again addressed the crowd, an historical oration was given by John Fiske, and a poem by John Boyle O'Reilly was read.
It's really interesting to read newspaper accounts of the memorial's creation and dedication. It's hard to imagine today, when the Boston Massacre is held up as one of the first events in America's path to independence, but there was considerable controversy back in 1888 as to whether it was appropriate to honor the victims of the Boston Massacre, who many believed to be lawless in their actions and just a part of a drunken and angry mob. Newspaper articles in 1888 were just as apt to refer to "the affair in King Street" as they were to call it the "Boston Massacre."
And don't think that the race and class of the victims—including Crispus Attucks, he of African-American and Native American descent, and Patrick Carr, an Irish immigrant—didn't play a role in the controversy. The race of Attucks, in particular, was a hot topic in 1888, just a little more than two decades removed from the Civil War. In fact, even though all five victims are listed on the monument's pedestal, many newspaper accounts refer to the work as the "Crispus Attucks monument." According to a May 22, 1888, article in the Macon Telegraph about the memorial: "Special interest is given to it by the fact that one of the killed was a colored man named Crispus Attucks, who was glorified by the Abolitionists, for their purposes, as one of liberty's martyrs. No doubt the [Massachusetts] Historical Society and the [New England Historic] Genealogical Society are right when they say that these men were rioters, who got into a squabble with the soldiers, having no patriotic purpose, and not appreciating the historical importance of their disorderly behavior."
U.S. Senator George F. Hoar, quoted in an October 24, 1889, article in The Boston Globe, gave a passionate defense of the victims and wondered why their "lawless" activities were viewed differently than those who participated in The Boston Tea Party, with the underlying reasons being class and race: "They did no more than the members of the tea party did, or than Samuel Adams when he threatened the governor that unless the troops were removed the people would come down upon him. This threat by Sam Adams was as lawless as anything the populace did...Why is there such a hidden desire to attribute to these people in the humbler and perhaps lower walks of life base and rowdy motives? Perhaps it was justice to acquit the British soldiers tried for murder, but their acquittal did not condemn the people as a mob."
I'm not sure if the controversy that swirled about the place of the victims in American history back in the 1880s played a role in the location of the monument on Boston Common or not, but I still believe the time is right to move this monument to the site of the Boston Massacre so that more people can appreciate the powerful symbolism in this work by Robert Kraus.