Go Red Sox! Just a teaser!
On our last day we were pleased to see the return to summer and set off on the trolley car again, this time for a look around the park in the centre of Boston, where we found the beautiful duck in a row which Barbara Bush had commissioned for the park. there is another set in Moscow which Mrs Bush gave to Mrs Gorbachov. Apparently on Mothers day many children come dressed as ducklings and it is quite a sight. Then we walked along part of the Freedom Trail which concentrates on the history around Boston and in particular its role in the Independence of America, before our tour of the USS Constitution.
The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the world. This is verified each year when it goes out into the harbour and fires its cannons on the 4th of July. Incidentally, Crackerjack told us that recently the neighbours in the very palatial homes adjacent to the shipyard, petitioned for the salute to be discontinued as it disturbed them. Really ....... On the Fourth of July ????? Crackerjack showed his disdain by leaning on the horn of the trolley as he told us!!!! A very funny man.
Our tour guide on the Constitution was a young man dressed in the naval sailors uniform of the period. He was brought up in New Orleans and left after the cyclone, returning a few years later and joining the Navy. He was a very amusing guide and certainly made us feel as tho' we were a part of the everyday activities on board. It was incredible to think that there were 500 sailors on board when the ship was fully operational. The cannons on the top deck were very impressive but the ones below on the gun deck were even larger and if not correctly positioned had a kickback equivalent to 35 mph, which would be the impact of being hit by a car in a very confined area. Back to the top deck where the riggings on the masts which are 220 feet high we heard how these were manned at two levels and of course no one was sent up there on fine sunny days, and as our guide told us he has to go up there as part of his regular training and its not fun.
At the next level were the eating, sleeping and livestock quarters. Oh for the life of a sailor - not. The ordinary sailor was allowed four hours sleep on a rotation basis in the hammocks which would do my back in. The low ceilings would have killed Ian on his first day. the hammocks clearly told us that men in these days were much smaller! For company, in addition to the other sailors, if you were a lower rank sailor you were sleeping in the middle of the ship together with the livestock require to sustain the men on their voyage. Chickens were on the upper deck because of the smell, but the cows and goats and bullocks were right beside them in the manger. Then there was the issue of cows getting sea sick. Yuck! There were two cooks on board for the five hundred men. One was a fully trained cook and the other knew nothing about cooking as he was usually a sailor who had lost the ability to be an active sailor either through losing a limb, an eye or too old. The fully trained chef looked after the captain exclusively and the other, well guess! Apparently meals were rather random for them.
The Captain and his officers had very nice quarters up the front of the ship and their lives must have been much better.
We were told not to touch any of the brass on the ship as we were toured around or we would be hunted down, brought back and made to polish it as our guide was not keen to do it himself, very amusing man, but with his deep booming voice it was hard to know if he was kidding.
Whilst we were down In the living, eating sleeping and gun quarters we role played the battle between the USS Constitution and the British vessel the Guerrier which was when the USS Constitution gained its notoriety as "Ironsides" when the British sailors said that the cannons bounced off the sides of the ship. There is no iron in this ship just superbly crafted timber comprising two different types of oak making up 22 inches thick. Because of this the Constitution was able to sink the British vessel. We were so excited!
After our great tour we resumed our walk and found our way to a lovely small park with a very moving dedication to the servicemen and women who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. It comprised three wire walls in a semi circle covered in dog tags. A very sobering reminder of the reality of war here.
Then we found Paul Revere's house which doesn't look big enough to accommodate his 16 children but maybe they slept in shifts too!