By Rick Winterson
In our last issue (June 29, page one), South Boston Online suggested that you stay home – or at least nearby – to celebrate America’s most important Holiday. Well, we did just that, with only the minor exceptions of going to other areas near South Boston that are accessible by the Red Line. And do you know what? It worked!
The weather was particularly fine, despite the occasional threat of thunderstorms. There were art exhibitions and musical events all over the Boston area during the three-day weekend prior to the Fourth of July Holiday on Tuesday. Many of these were in the North End, so nothing else would do except to walk the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which had come back to life for the weekend. We ran into Adam O’Day there. A few years ago, he had his studio in The Distillery on Second Street; nowadays, he and his family live in Woburn, but Adam is still painting his (very) vibrant, award-winning urban landscapes.
The North End is really the “Old Boston” of Revolutionary War lore. It was the residence of young Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Ben Franklin, who served there as apprentices (read “slaves”), when they were growing up. No wonder they desired independence so strongly. There were crowds, including a group of friends who had traveled here from Houston. They were highly impressed with the history in Boston, as well as the courtesy they were shown by everyone. And between the North End and Faneuil Hall, there were music and dancing everywhere – break dancers, Dixieland, and so on.
On Sunday, in Cambridge near Harvard Square (yes, the Red Line goes that far!), Club Passim at 47 Palmer Court presented a musical event they called “The Boston Celtic Music Festival”. Youth music combined with step dancing, fiddling, and even a ceilidh – check that Gaelic spelling – all day long. And midway through the Festival, a drone showed up, circling overhead for an hour or more.
On Monday, South Boston Online took its own advice. It was a stay-at-home-day that centered around the Harborwalk. It’s impossible to describe in words how lucky we are in South Boston. We have miles and miles of 100% clean, pristine beaches, bordered by a Harborwalk stretching around Castle Island, over to the Kennedy/UMass Boston complex at the end of Columbia Point. From “Connect Up City” on M Street Beach to the volleyball nets on Carson Beach, young people at play were everywhere. And there’s a newly opened Molly Moo’s operating the concessions in the McCormack Pavilion. Try their double cheeseburger
On the morning of the Fourth itself, we ventured to Boston (still via the Red Line) to listen to the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence. Mayor Marty Walsh opened the observances at City Hall. Dana Whiteside sang the National Anthem. The Parade proceeded to the Old Granary Burial Ground to lay wreaths at the burial spots of John Hancock, Peter Faneuil, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine. The Declaration then was solemnly read from the Old State House Balcony by Captain Commander Dennis Obrien of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, America’s oldest military unit (founded by Gov. Winthrop in 1638). This is an impressive event, which is now 241 years old. The first such reading took place on July 18, 1776, when the final draft of the Declaration of Independence first arrived in Boston by horseback from Philadelphia.
The afternoon of the Fourth was spent on Castle Island, amid the scent of South Boston’s neighborhood tree, the unique lindens (a.k.a. basswood) that bloom in early July – bewitching! Barbecues were everywhere. The Queen Mary 2 paid us a visit, docking at the Black Falcon Terminal in the Raymond Flynn CruisePort, especially so her passengers could experience the Fourth right here in “The Cradle of Liberty”, including attendance at the Pops Concert on the Esplanade. We viewed that, along with other fireworks displays, from Dorchester Heights along with hundreds of other smart South Bostonians. Illegal fireworks on the nearby projects punctuated the evening air, but a CD player featuring Ray Charles’ songs of America – in his classic singing style – caught everyone’s ear. At the end, we were even more thankful for America, the Fourth, and the ability to celebrate it in a quiet but thoroughly enjoyable way.