Fenway, JFK and Politicians of Today and Yesterday

Trip Start Jul 16, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Fenway Park Boston
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Friday, July 29, 2011

We made it home safely yesterday afternoon. The last two days of vacation were so busy and went by so quickly I never had a chance to write anything.  I will take a couple minutes and try to recap the past couple of days and even the past couple of weeks in this final blog.

On Thursday Sarah and I got up early for our day at what, I am sure, Bostonians consider the modern day's most hallowed ground….Fenway Park.  Fenway is America’s oldest ball park, turning 100 years old next April.  As you walk up to field it looks like just another warehouse on a block of warehouses.  It is not till you look up and see the lights do you have any inclination you are near some kind of sports field.  You certainly have no idea this is a professional sport arena.  That is, until you turn the corner onto Yawkey Way. 

Yawkey Way is a Boston street that runs next to Fenway Park on the 3rd base side of the field.  Most of the time it is just another small Boston side street that cars, buses, taxis and pedestrians use on a daily basis.  Along one side of the street is the field.  On the other side is a combination of shops, taverns and restaurants that even the most casual sports fan would realize they had entered the front door of Red Sox Nation. 

One of the stores offers tours of Fenway Park.  This has long been part of the overall travel plan for Sarah and me.  We were there for the first tour of the day that started promptly at 9am.  I will not bore everyone with tour details other than to say if you remotely enjoy baseball you will enjoy this tour.   It was during this tour I realized how much a Red Sox fan Sarah is.  She knew the names of the foul poles, could tell me why there was one red seat in right field etc.  In fact as we were leaving the tour, the guide said to me she is quite a baseball fan.  He said he could tell because she was nodding in agreement with all his tour facts before could finish his statement. 

Tour over, we had an hour to kill before we could enter the park.  Fortunately, Panera had the presence of mind to build a store 2 blocks from the field so went over there to kick back for an hour before we could enter the park.   Coffee drank and smoothly purchased, it was time to return to the ball field.  We turned the corner onto Yawkey Way and were greeted by a closed street.  It seems on game days (or nights), Yawkey Way is closed to the public and becomes part of the ball field.  On the closed road there are street vendors hawking programs and food, clowns making free balloon animals and walking around on stilts, a couple of live bands, a lot of Red Sox employees giving out free baseball cards to kids and what amounts to a generally family oriented street party.  It was a really fun atmosphere. 

The game was a close one but the Red Sox lost.  That only seemed to minimally dampen the atmosphere.  At the end of the day I had a better understanding of the phrase "Red Sox Nation".  Before this week, and especially Thursday, I thought this phrase was just another over used marketing ploy.  But we talked to people who had flown in from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina just to see the Red Sox play that week.  That is a smattering of people we talked to during one week out of probably 20 plus baseball weeks per year.  The organization puts on a pretty good show for its guests and, without a doubt, pumps significant amount of revenue into the local economy. 

On Friday we jumped back on the T and headed for the JFK Library on the south side of Boston.  I want to take a minute here and praise the T.  We never waited more than 5 minutes for a train.  We never had any trouble figuring out how to get from point A to point B.  Even if we had to pay for every ride as opposed to our week long tourist pass we would have saved a heck of a lot of money in tolls, parking fees and gas not mention general getting there headaches.  The trains were old and showed some wear, but they were always clean and what appeared to be good working order.  The same could be said about the train stations.  I saw one escalator out of service one day.  It was working the next. 

I wish I could say the same about the DC Metro system but I can’t.  On any given day it seems a third of the escalators are out of service.  There is always some story about delays for perpetual track work that never ends.  The train cars themselves are always in the news for some kind of failure.  In the past year I have ridden on the Metro at least a half dozen times and yet to get off one of the trains without complaining about the system being an embarrassment to the Nation’s Capitol.   

Back to the JFK Library.  We decided to take advantage of the guided tour that comes with the admission which turned out to be a good move.  We got some good inside info we would not have been privy to had we gone it alone.  Once the tour was over we went back to revisit some of the exhibits.  I couldn’t help but think how much the man got accomplished in 3 short years in office and wonder how the world would be different had it not been for a nut with a gun.  Agree or disagree with JFK’s views and agenda, no one can deny the man had a quality we hunger for today.  The ability to lead. 

We still had half a day left in Boston and despite the brewing storms to the west we were determined to make the most of it.  In this making the most of it, meant heading to the oldest cemeteries in America.  We paid homage to the likes of Sam Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, some of the men who died at the Boston Massacre, and settlers that travelled here on the Mayflower.  It was an enlightening, informative and moving afternoon. 

We then went back over to Union Street to try out another tavern, having had such a good experience twice before.  This time is was the Purple Shamrock.  The dinner and a slice of Boston cream pie did not disappoint. After some last minute shopping at Faneuil Hall, we headed back to our room for packing after that.

While spending a week listening to the stories of the birth of our nation in and around Boston, I also had a weather eye on the current news coming out of DC.  Or should I say a lack of news.  This week it became clear to both Pat and I that today’s politicians have forgotten the art of the compromise.  In the art of the compromise you may have to give up what you want to obtain and sustain what everyone needs for the greater good.  Our founding fathers all had their personal agendas and reasons for being involved in the dispute with Great Britain.  Some only wanted recognition and representation in parliament.  They had no desire to become their own country.  Others wanted to be 13 separate countries.  But somehow, against odds that were nothing short of insurmountable, 13 colonies came together, wrote a document that is still relevant 235 years later and won a war against the biggest super power of the time. 

We learned these deals were not cut on the pristine floor of what came to be known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia or the State House in Boston.  These deals were discussed, derived and determined in smoky saw dust covered rooms in meeting houses and taverns all over Boston and Philadelphia over a couple of “cold ones”.  These men of different backgrounds, religions, morays and agendas found common ground in these places.  From this common ground came ideas, plans and compromises.  From these compromises came the United States. 

We don’t have these places any more.  Growing up in Cleveland every neighborhood had a bar you went to even before you were old enough to drink.  That is just what you did.  Conservatives and Liberals could be in the same room, agree to disagree and still work together.  While visiting the Minuteman National Historical Park in Concord we met a tour guide at one on of the restored taverns who put it best.  We have our home and our work place where we spend most of our time but America has lost that “Third Place”.   You know the place where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.  A place where you can see our troubles are the same.  Gee, even the fictional TV Boston had it right.   The good news is I now have the name of my future tavern.  The Third Place. 

Instead, today we are saddled with 537 politicians who cannot find a way to accomplish what most American households accomplish every day; don’t spend more money than you have.  Our leaders no longer get together for a “cold one”.  They run to the media spew their polarized agenda who then goes on to create a more polarization.  Not good for the average American, but great for poll points and ratings.  Maybe some of their time could be well spent touring Boston and being reminded where and how our roots were established and talking with the co-workers at a tavern.  God knows they aren’t accomplishing anything any way.  
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