Just before I went to the ACS Conference in Baltimore, we found out that Tom’s youngest brother, Bill had died, which was a major shock to all of us. He’d had Polycystic Kidney Disease and been on dialysis for quite a while. He decided to go for a kidney transplant so he could spend more quality time with his grandchildren.
Tom and I decided I should go to the conference anyway and we’d drive to Boston when that was over.
At noon, I was waiting in the lobby of the hotel and Tom called. My ringtone is Scotland the Brave and the woman waiting near me couldn’t miss the bagpipes. She said her dad had been a pipe major. Small world!
Tom rented a big black SUV and, when he drove up to the hotel to pick me up, he was told he had to stand (park) elsewhere with the other Uber drivers. LOL
It took a little while to get used to this big, different car. The first day, I accidentally called OnStar once and had to convince them that there was no emergency – and they called me on my phone. I guess if it was a really emergency, that would be great but it was a little scary. The OnStar button was very easy to hit – it was directly on the rearview mirror so when we adjusted the mirror, OnStar was called.
We stopped at a Bagel place in Baltimore then headed out to Boston while Michael took the train from NYC. We both turned on our iPhone location services so we could all keep track of who was there.
Lots of memories driving into Boston. One I’ll never forget. It’s a Shaw’s grocery store now but it used to be a hotel in Newton. And it’s built straddling the Mass Pike. And, it used to have many more floors.
When Michael was very young we stayed at this hotel, probably Howard Johnsons, over New Year’s weekend. Tom was out visiting a college buddy and, around midnight, someone had some “fun” setting off the fire alarm. Of course, I couldn’t find Michael’s shoes, so I picked him up and carried him down about 1o or so flights of stairs, into the snow.
Ever after, we have had a “Shoes by the Door” rule, especially in hotels!
Construction began in May of 1969 on Newton which included a Motor Lodge, Red Coach Grill and Howard Johnson’s Restaurant. Plans called for a 12-story lodge with 271 rooms on the third through twelfth floors. Moreover the lobby featured 2-stories with a mezzanine floor for conference rooms. ~ from http://www.highwayhost.org/Massachusetts/Boston/Newton/newton1.html
And today, which brought the flood of memories:
Getting close to Boston, we could see the Citgo Sign in Kenmore Square.
I was always very proud of my paternal grandmother.
In the early part of the last century she had been living in Scotland with her husband and they had a young son – my father.
My grandfather was in the Black Watch during World War I, and he was killed in Peshawar, India.
My grandmother left her life and family in Scotland and sailed to the United States with my dad when he was only 5. We have pictures of him disembarking in his little kilt!
I cannot imagine having her courage, leaving home with a small child, and starting life anew in a completely foreign country.
Many years later, when I was a freshman in college, my grandmother died the week before Christmas.
I remember sitting in Waterman’s Funeral Home in Kenmore Square, Boston watching the Citgo sign cycle through its neon pattern. No one but our very small family attended her calling hours.
The funeral was a bit better. A few folks took the time to honor this brave woman.
A week later, we celebrated Christmas “because that’s what Nana would have wanted”. Even then, I thought that she probably would have liked to see more caring people around her, while she was alive.
The current beacon on Beacon Street is the giant Citgo Sign. It has been a Boston landmark since 1940. The sign had originally said Cities Service, and was changed to the new logo in 1965 (with nearly 6,000 neon bulbs added). The sign is visible from great distances on both sides of the Charles River, especially as one approaches the city from the west…
Meanwhile, Michael was already in Boston and he took the T (subway) to our AirBnB in Savin Hill and got Chinese food. He saw us arrive and try to park on the narrow, hilly street outside and came out to help us bring in the luggage.
It was an adorable place and I especially loved this reading chair.
The AirBnb was on Grampian Way and we stayed near the Grampian Mountains in Scotland last year. Small world!
Saturday, June 4
Saturday was a busy day. First up were the calling hours, where we saw friends and relatives we hadn’t seen in years. Michael hadn’t seen some of them since he was a young child. The funeral home parking attendant informed me that our SUV wasn’t black, but some exotic shade like granite. Fine.
We all drove to the Funeral at St. Anthony’s Church in Everett. It was a very touching, emotional service for everyone. When we left, the funeral home disbursed bottle of water to everyone…and left. There was no procession to a cemetery or anywhere.
We got maps to the Casa Lucia restaurant West Revere and a whole line of people followed behind us. Luckily, we didn’t get lost! The hall was upstairs, though, and my knee gave me a bit of trouble 😦
After a very nice Italian buffet, one of Bill’s doctors (who had been sitting at our table) got up front and told us about how Bill had worked with medical students at Harvard for over 20 years, telling the patient side of Polycystic Kidney Disease. He had slides prepared and was very helpful with the hundreds of students he’d reached.
Michael said that he had to get back to New York to finish up some work so we left the restaurant and headed back to the AirBnb for his stuff, then to North Station for Amtrak.
On the way back, we stopped at the beach near South Boston. It was a chilly day but lots of folks were out enjoying the sun. Lots of memories there, too!
Off to the Stop and Shop to get something for dinner and snacks for the road then…nap finally.
Sunday, June 5
When we were leaving, there were lots of police around and they were closing off streets. Turns out it was the Dorchester Day Parade. Who knew there was such a day? Apparently, many people. This was the 112th parade, 53rd Continuous Parade since 1963.
I can’t find a video (yet) for 2016 but this is from last year.
On the way home there was pouring rain in New Jersey so we got home very late.
I am at least 3 posts behind on this blog. We just went on another trip last weekend of June 17-19 so I’d better get caught up!
April 22, 2016 we left for Norfolk to see the Virginia International Tattoo. It should have been an easy 3 hour drive that took us nearly 7 due to construction, rush hour, rain and accidents (not ours).
On the way, we stopped at a Denny’s. I managed to insult waitress by saying that probably most of the customers were off the highway. She said that there were lots of regulars, not just off the highway – in a very huffy tone. Oh, well.
We eventually got to our AirBnB thanks to our Waze app.
We never would have found it otherwise.
Since we got there pretty late, we did a bit of grocery shopping at a former 7-Eleven. Dinner was just cereal and we went to bed…after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime.
I loved this poster in our AirBnb:
Saturday was the Day!
We got up in the morning and headed to the Scope Arena just after noon.
There were all kinds of Bagpipe groups in competition (a Tattoo Hullabaloo). We wandered around the Scope arena and watched some of the bands warming up. Here’s one doing their competition numbers:
The Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps (sorry some of this got sideways)
There was this really neat carillon:
Beyond offering star performers from many disciplines, the Virginia Arts Festival is literally announcing itself this year by ringing the bells.
To mark its 20th anniversary, VAF will unveil a 23-bell mobile carillon, something of a mobile ambassador that will be playable by everyone. It’s roughly the size of a semi truck with a car carrier, serving as both mammoth musical instrument and sculptural art. The bells are mounted on a frame that spells out “VAF” that will be driven to venues to ring home the point that each event is associated with the arts festival.
The instrument is engineered so that a person can play it at a keyboard or ring the individual bells by pulling levers.
Impossible to miss, the carillon, which cost $415,000 and was funded by an anonymous donor, will be parked in front of 12 events during the festival, including opening night tonight at MacArthur Center.
“This iconic structure speaks to the tradition that church bells have played in the history of greater Norfolk,” VAF Perry Artistic Director Rob Cross said in a statement.
VAF went with a venerable manufacturer for the structure. It was made by the Verdin Co., a Cincinnati-based company that has been making bells, carillons and large clocks for 173 years. Verdin’s work can be seen at Walt Disney World, the University of Notre Dame and other spots around the country.
While the framework is custom-made, the bells are old and carry an interesting history. They were refurbished from a carillon built in 1928, commissioned by graduates of the now-defunct, all-female Ward-Belmont College in Nashville, Tenn., to honor troops killed in Flanders, Belgium, during World War I.
The 23 bells, cast in England, were mounted in a converted water tower. The carillon was dedicated during homecoming week at Ward-Belmont in 1929. Five years later, the bells pealed “Hail to the Chief” when President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt visited. But in 1951, as financial woes mounted, the carillon was dismantled and the school closed.
The bells stayed silent for more than six decades. Belmont University, the successor institution, built a new carillon for its campus, and the Verdin Co. acquired the old bells, which were refurbished for the VAF structure.
VAF’s Cross said: “It is a beautiful marriage of the past and the future. What a wonderful way of continuing our goal of taking the festival beyond the concert hall.”
About 4:00, it started to rain, so they moved us all indoors. The Jordanian Armed Forces Bagpipe Band (they played outside, above) kept us entertained while the bands prepared to move inside.
When the rain stopped, they moved us back outside to finish the competition and name the winners. The New York Metro Pipe Band won their category and both bands from Scotland (Inveraray and District Pipe Band and Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band) won theirs. In the DrumLine Battle, it was an easy winner since all but one dropped out.
We were right up close for the walkoff:
At 7:00 the show started.
Here’s my video of part of the closing program with Colin Powell:
A bit of a sing-a-long:
Here’s the entire show, in one long playlist:
In case you’re wondering – yes, we have tickets for next year!
Sunday was pretty uneventful coming home.