Island Life

Trip Start Jul 22, 2012
Trip End Oct 13, 2012

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What I did
Fort Getty, Newport, Herreschoffe Museum

Flag of United States  , Rhode Island
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The next day we drove back to the Pequot Museum and were treated to one of the most elaborate displays of Native American village life I have ever seen. The revenues from the casinos have really underwritten a fabulous exhibit. The use lifelike manikins to recreate a village, based upon archaeological research of the area. A locally produced documentary details the Pequot’s difficulties with the early English settlers which resulted in a devastating genocidal attack on their main village that resulted in the deaths of over 600 men, women and children.

After a few hours at the museum we drove to Jamestown, Rhode Island. A good friend of ours from Hawaii, Bill Pitchers, was born and raised on the island. Bill set us up with a friend of his, Jan Whitford, a local author who also happens to work at the municipal campground. We checked in early in the afternoon spent a few hours relaxing. The campground is located in Fort Getty. an old coastal defense site from the Civil war. In WWII it was used as a prison camp for German officers. According to Jan, they were given civics lessons in capitalism and democracy. Bill remembers seeing uniformed prisoners working around the village when he was a youth.

The next day Jan and his wife, Barbara, picked us up at the campsite and took us on an all day tour of Jamestown, Newport and Bristol. We seem to be in the neighborhood of the one percent of the population that tolerates the rest of us. The number of estates is astounding. First stop was the Beavertail Lighthouse, then Bill Pitcher’s family home and birthplace . Jan and I got a kick out of Bill’s memorial plaque, “Birthplace of William J. Pitchers 1937”, in Bill’s own writing of course. A modest structure with a infamous history having spawned “Barnacle Bill”, “Silvertongue” or whatever moniker you know Billy Boy by. 74 years young and still going strong..

On to Newport, playground of the rich and famous, the summer white houses for Eisenhower and Kennedy are here, The Newport Preservation Trust, started by Doris Duke, owns numerous of the turn of the century mansions built by the early billionaires of American society, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Duke, etc., etc, these waterfront estates were summer getaways for the ultra rich at the turn of the century through the roaring twenties, and on up to today. One interesting aside was the mysterious stone tower in the middle of Newport that predates recorded history. According to Jan, numerous researchers have been unable to determine its origins, not Native American, perhaps Viking, perhaps Irish….who knows? Columbus was not the first European to land on North American shores…..

On up to Bristol, where we had a magnificent lunch at the DeWolfe Pub. Seafood bisque and the seafood sandwich were unbelievably delectable, did I mention that I appear to be regaining some hard lost pounds? The day was again, spectacular, blue skies and 85 degrees.

We made the trip to Bristol to visit the Herreshoffe boat design museum, The Herreshoffe brothers started a boatyard committed to excellence and innovation in the 1880‘s and they are recognized, most notably Nathaniel, as the greatest boat designers of their time with many America‘s Cup winners to their credit. I was surprised to see an early catamaran design in the display of historic boats. Nat was really ahead of his time in that regard. The preserved yachts were easily accessible by steps and ladders, they encouraged you to enter and wander around.

Back to the campsite at Fort Getty to prepare for an early departure for Cape Cod.

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