Following the Freedom Trail

Locals visit Faneuil Hall Marketplace, World War II destroyer

Posted: Sunday, December 28, 2008

On our last day in New England, my husband, Don, and I spent the day in Boston following the Freedom Trail. We took the Rodeway Hotel shuttle to the airport. From the airport, we took the subway's Blue Line to Government Center. Our subway tickets costed us $8.

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Courtesy Of Don Harris
Courtesy Of Don Harris

From Government Center, we walked across the street to Faneuil Hall. The merchants were arranging their food displays. Four buildings, including Faneuil Hall, make up the Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the Quincy Market. Faneuil Hall was built in 1740.

The Freedom Trail is easy to follow. Tourists just need to follow the red bricks and the red paint on the sidewalks. We followed the Freedom Trail from the Old State House to the site of the Boston Massacre.

We followed the trail to the Old North Church where the sexton hung two lanterns in the steeple to let Paul Revere know that the British were coming by sea. The interior of the Old North Church is painted white, quite different from the dark interiors of old churches in Europe. In colonial times, the wooden churches were not heated because of the fear of fire. The parishioners brought foot warmers with hot coals inside to attempt to stay somewhat warm during the long service. Many of the families owned their pews.

From the Old North Church we walked across the Charlestown Bridge to the Charlestown Navy Yard. Don was disappointed that the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, was closed Monday. Many museums and historic sites are closed on Mondays in the United States as well as in Europe. However, the crew of the Constitution were training on the ropes and lines of one of the large masts of the ship. I was pleased to see several women sailors training on the ropes and lines of the mast.

The destroyer USS Cassin Young was open. I had to admit, it was interesting to tour a World War II destroyer. The destroyer had earned a number of ribbons. Don especially liked the cannons.

In the 1990s, my team teacher, our teacher's aide, and I traveled with our students to Washington, D.C., and Boston. The students hated following the Freedom Trail. They complained the trail was boring. We were in Boston to teach them about our early colonial history and to visit colleges. They did enjoy Boston sports, musicals and the Hard Rock Café.

To the chagrin of many parents, quite a few of those students attended colleges in the Boston area. They received good scholarships because of their good test scores, high grades and geographic diversity.

From the Cassin Young, we walked back across the Charlestown Bridge to the Union Oyster House, "America's Oldest Restaurant Since 1826." On this trip, Don and I did not have a good eating experience at the Oyster House. Our waitress spent most of her time playing with the granddaughter of an older couple. We had to wait for some time to order and then had to wait for our meals. We did not get the famous corn bread with our meals. When we finally received our check, I mentioned that we did not get corn bread. Previously, we enjoyed excellent service and good food at the Oyster House.

After lunch, we each paid $3 to take a guided tour of the Paul Revere House that was built around 1680. The house is a rare example of 17th century urban architecture. Paul Revere lived in the house from 1770-1800. Family furniture and silver are displayed in three of the rooms. Revere was an excellent silversmith, engraver and bell maker. Museums are quite proud to display their silver pieces made by Revere. Revere did much more than riding to warn the colonists that the "British are coming."

We also toured the Moses Pierce/Nathaniel Hichborn House next door to the Revere House. The house was built in the 18th Century. Only a few 18th Century houses have survived in Boston. In the 19th century, the brick house became a tenement building and housed numerous immigrant families. In 1949-50, the Paul Revere Memorial Association acquired the Hichborn House.

We followed the Freedom Trail to the Old South Church. The Old South Church's mission is different from my last visit when it was mainly used as a museum. Old South has an improved mini museum that features the 18th Century slave Phyliss Wheatley who was taught to read and write. She became famous for her poetry. Since the 18th Century, Old South Church has been and continues to be a venue for free speech.

From the Old South Church, we walked to Government Center and took the Wonderland train to Revere and our hotel. We returned to Maggio's for our last dinner in New England. The next day we flew home to Juneau.

Boston's Freedom Trail is my last New England story. In January, I will start my Scotland, London and East Sussex travel stories.

• Alma Harris is a retired Juneau-Douglas High School English teacher who loves to travel and write.

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