The "maiden voyage," so to speak, of my latest venture, Huck's Tours, is in the books and I am compelled to consider it a major success. We made it all the way to Boston and back and returned with the same number of people we left home with and did not wind up at a hospital or a local jail, although it was touch and go for a while on the latter.
About an hour and 12 minutes after our flight touched down at Logan International Airport, I found myself crossways with an obnoxious local who took exception to my walking into Faneuil Hall and, after asking permission from the park ranger there, enlightening my group of fellow travelers about how that particular institution proclaimed itself to be the "Cradle of Liberty" because James Otis, Samuel Adams and the like, acting on the precious notion of freedom of speech, stirred the masses there against taxation without representation and talked them into taking up arms against the Royal Crown.
I guess the guy who accosted me forgot about freedom of speech. At any rate he told me that Faneuil Hall was "his" hall, not "our" hall and that I couldn't give a lecture there.
He was wrong.
After that initial little skirmish, we settled in and were on our best behavior and the rest of the folks we encountered were as cordial and polite as could be -- and seemed to appreciate our efforts to jump-start the New England economy over the first full weekend of the summer.
Honesty compels me to admit that Boston and the surrounding areas are a nice place to visit and, if I could afford it, I wouldn't mind living there. It's a funny thing. Our guide for the weekend -- Bill McDonough -- had visited Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic games and was amazed that we were about to tear down a perfectly good baseball stadium that was barely 30 years old while folks flock to his city to visit a ball park built in 1912.
Speaking of Bill McDonough, I defy you to find a person who knows more about the history of Bean Town and its environs. He was a walking encyclopedia and now my group and I are more familiar with 400 years of Boston history than we are with what has gone on in our own neighborhoods. He was amazing -- and funny to boot. Enid Hanson did have to let him know, however, that it was Crawford W. Long of the Jefferson, Ga., Longs and not Dr. Morton of the Boston Mortons who first used ether as an anesthetic. Oh, well. We can spot him one tiny little flub. The history book I used to teach from made the same mistake.
We had a grand time, however. We ate lobster high above the city lights, we followed the path of Paul Revere, and we stood on the Lexington Green where Jonas Parker may or may not have shouted, "Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!"
We also crossed the rude bridge celebrated in verse by Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Here the embattled farmer stood and fired the shot heard round the world." We learned the story of the Salem witch trials firsthand and stood at the graves of some of those who were put to death for witchery, and we stood in front of the Fishermen's Memorial in Gloucester and gazed out over the rocky coast, gazing out at the deceptively calm sea, which has claimed so many seamen on stormy days -- and nights.
We walked the deck of the U.S.S. Constitution -- the oldest commissioned naval vessel in the world -- and we were reminded at every turn that the cost of freedom is not and has not ever been free. We spent an hour or so with John F. Kennedy, reliving the days of the early 1960s and being reminded of Jackie and John-John and Caroline and the days of the Camelot White House -- and also of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis and, of course, that day in Dallas.
And we laughed. Boy, how we did laugh as we watched the incredibly funny play "Shear Madness" and even had one of our own -- Dick Weimar -- make a cameo appearance as the pink-shirted star of the show's Facebook twin. And, yes, we toasted our weekend at the original Bull and Finch Bar, upon which the television series "Cheers" was based.
We came to Boston. We saw the sights. We conquered our shyness and made lots of new friends and lifetime memories. Not bad for four days.
I can't wait for the next trip. I'm glad it's only 13 days away.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.