Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Boston — May 1st

My second day in Boston found me hiking down Long Wharf to walk off another meal at Durgin Park, and afterwards exploring the 400 block of Beacon Street, where I lived with my parents at No. 468 from 1945 to 1947. Our redbrick apartment building, now given over to overpriced condominiums, is located almost at the corner of Mass. Ave, and Harvard Bridge is still but a stone’s throw away. Not a single one of those buildings seen in my picture above was there in 1945 -- the gold dome of the State House could be seen for miles.

Storrow Drive had not yet replaced a spacious green park that ran along the Charles to Longfellow Bridge; today about half of it remains in the area near Hatch Shell. I remember a big celebration held to celebrate the end of WW II, with fire-boats ejaculating Charles River water skywards while the Boston Pops, awash in patriotic fervor, played with inspiring vigor the Coast Guard march Semper Paratus in the Shell. This is the first music I can remember having heard, and the melody has continued to march around inside my brain ever since.

From those years I remember walking east down Mass. Ave with my Dad. At the bridge crossing over the Mass. Turnpike there were multiple train tracks, and it was great fun to hang your head over the rail as the steam locomotives passed under and shot up a huge cloud of steam and cinders. I remember the smell of the burning coal to this day.

Saturday evening was devoted to a student performance of Shakespeare’s Pericles at Adams House. I wanted to see it because it was one of the few plays by Shakespeare I hadn’t yet seen. Like most student productions the show was oddly hyperkinetic, which provoked a good-spirited and lively entertainment, but at the cost of squelching the hoped-for enjoyment of Shakespeare’s language.

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