Seeing & Looking
Strolling Boston's Freedom Trail, I wondered "Is everyone here a tourist." I thought I heard Chinese, Spanish, and Dutch, all spoken quickly as sightseers and I passed each other on the trail. Perhaps folks who work in downtown Boston already know their city so well, they have no need to walk the Trail's thin granite line along the city's red brick lanes.
However, I was interested in the Trail, for two reasons. First, I wanted to see where Benjamin Franklin was born. Second, it was a trip down memory lane.
Franklin was born between the Old South Meeting House and the Old Corner Bookstore. That location echoed his reputation as a publisher. There's a landmark to him, just steps off the Freedom Trail. It's wasy to miss. Franklin's birthplace is marked by a small white bust of him, and that's the only thing surviving. The original building where Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was born burned down in 1810.
I walked on. Strolling the Trail, A distant memory of my brother and I at the Kings Chapel Burial Ground entered my mind, as we'd walked the Trail twenty years ago. Many notable folks are buried there, such as John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts. However, the person I recognized, reading the plaque, was Mary Chilton. Here headstone inspired the grave of Esther Prim in The Scarlet Letter: Mary Chilton Winslow. At 13, she crossed the Atlantic in the Mayflower. She was so excited to see land, legend has it, she leaped out of the landing boat onto Plymouth Rock. My middle name is Winslow, and I recall my brother saying I was named for her.
Strolling up State, to Court, ahead of me the Boston Common beckoned.
On my way to the Public Garden, in the Boston Common, I stopped in the Central Burying Ground off Boylston Street, founded in 1756. There, I searched in vain for Gilbert Stuart's grave, and instead happened on a headstone marking the mass grave burial of people whose bodies were uncovered when the Tremont Street subway was constructed in 1895. I walked on.
Photos and Writings by Jim Austin Jimages
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