Sunday, March 31, 2013

Getting ready for Boston walking tour season

It's been a LONG winter but signs of spring are finally here at the end of a rough March through snow and cold. I'm co-chair of Boston By Foot's public relations committee, which has ironically made it even harder for me to wait for spring. My co-chair and I have had meetings since January with the director, and two committee meetings already in February and March. I'm so excited I can't stand it! Tour season "officially" begins May 1, but already I've been on a special tour of "The Adams Family" given on Presidents' Day. February 18 (especially in 2013) is a pretty crazy date for an outdoor activity not involving a sled or skates, but we persevered and it was a great tour, frostbite aside. (Abigail Adams, above left, agrees).

I'm thrilled about the 2nd annual tour connected to April Fool's Day, that will take place at 2 pm on Sunday, April 7. "True Lies & False Facts: A Questionable Tour of Boston," isn't like any other tour offered. For one thing, some of the guides tell you things that aren't true! The fun is, you get to guess which stories are true, which are false, and test your knowledge over drinks. I walked the route with master planner Dina Vargo (talking to the guide group, right) last weekend all over Beacon Hill, but still don't know what any of the stories are.

And I'm SO excited about some new tour offerings this year, included an extended Freedom Trail walk called "Road to Revolution." I learned the tour yesterday and am eager to include it in my repertoire. I'm also giving Tours of the Month in June (Charlestown Navy Yard which I learned last year) and in August (South Boston's Seaport, which is a brand new tour for a brand new area of the city). I also want to get to two regular tours I've never been on: Literary Landmarks, offered every Saturday morning from May to October; and the Architectural Boat Tour, offered 4 times each weekend for the majority of the season.

For now, I'm cheered by the hints of budding branches on the tulip trees (magnolias) along Beacon Street and the ever-shrinking nature of the remaining snow piles around the city. Hope to see you out walking soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Samuel Adams: A Life - my review of Ira Stoll's book

Samuel Adams: A LifeSamuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book will actually change my interpretations of Mr. Adams when I give walking tours in Boston. He looms so large in our tours yet is all but forgotten by most Americans. I was actually frustrated reading this book because I felt the author was harping too much on Adams' religious beliefs and "Puritanism". And I had to wonder, for a man who spent so much time writing (he was a journalist and politician) why his works were not drawn on more. Only at the end did I realize that he (wisely for his time and role) destroyed volumes of his correspondence.

A few changes I will make when talking about Adams to tourists: 1) He was the much more famous Adams of his time, especially in London (younger cousin John went on to be 2nd US President, but Samuel was well known to King George III and members of Parliament); 2) He was 2nd Governor of Massachusetts only because Hancock died in office - while he and Hancock were friends, the relationship was strained because of Hancock's "extravagance" vs. Adams's insistence on not taking any more than he needed to live on in his various political assignments; and 3) He did not leave Massachusetts until he traveled to Philadelphia as a member of the Continental Congress at age 51.

A very worthwhile read for anyone interested in the Founders, the Revolution, and the history of Boston.

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