November 16 - Travelin' in the North Country

by Lenny Hughes

Just like George Washington, we just crossed the Delaware River.

Of course, we used the Delaware Memorial Bridge, on our way to Long Island following a snowy, slushy show at the Grand Opera in Wilmington. Felt like Valley Forge.

Maybe I'm still back in time, after last weekend's triumphant romp through Boston.

I love Boston.

Where else can you see a Minute Man checking his minutes on his cell phone?

If you were with us last weekend, you could've caught Lewis on stage at the Boch Center's Shubert Theatre basking in the virtues of verbal obscenities (he was delighted recently to have run across a study that linked profanity to advanced intelligence).

It pays off for him, especially considering the expletive-screaming Bobbleheads that have been selling in record numbers-thanks largely to John's puppet display of his Bob debating a talking Donald Trump pen.
Schubert Theatre
Profane Intelligence
Great Debate

Boston is a paradise for a book-lover and TV-fanatic like me, who also revels in finding curiously odd historical sites.

Like a crazed tourist, I immediately headed out to the Boston Common, a sprawling parkland, that spills down from the venerable Beacon Hill neighborhood and the towering gold-domed Massachusetts State House.

On Saturday, it was a civilized, autumn-colored festival-a "fair field full of folk," as it might have been described in early times.

In 1634, the governor of the colony bought the land to be used as a public cow pasture where local farmers could indulge their bovine herds in food and drink-a rather socialist venture for the early seat of American capitalism.

Of course the almighty dollar trumps all other economic trends.

Common Autumn
Common Tablet
Common Story

Just east of the Common, I ran across the home site of Our Founding Father Samuel Adams (now most famously known as a beer). Today, the building that stands on Adams's ground is a TD Bank. Adams's new home is in the Granary Burying Ground just off Tremont Street.

He's a current neighbor of Paul Revere, by the way.

A little further off Tremont is the site of the old Province House, where the Royal Governors convened before the Revolution. It is now a McDonald's/CVS.

Samuel Adams Home
Samuel Adams Home
Samuel Adams Home Now
Samuel Adams New Home
Samuel Adams New Home
Paul Revere
Paul Revere
Here Stood The Province House
Here Stood The Province House

Here Stands McDonald's

Then I came to the Literary Cultural District (or so the marker said, just above an imposing "Do Not Enter" sign).

The Brattle Book Shop is impressive, flanked by an open-air alley filled with great finds for three or four bucks.

Literary Cultural District

Brattle Book Shop

Tucked down another alley is Commonwealth Books and Old Prints. Amazingly, I found an affordable first-edition set of Mark Twain's autobiography, and another two-volume set of Percy Bysshe Shelley's letters.

I told Bill Johnston, the sociable cashier, that of course I'd probably never read either one, but they just looked so beautiful, I couldn't pass them up.

Commonwealth Books

Commonwealth Bill

Twain & Shelley

The Twain books had a Old Corner Bookstore label inside.

Johnston told me the Old Corner store was opened in the early Nineteenth Century on the site of the former home of early feminist Anne Hutchinson. The store became legendary as the publishing house for Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson and a slew of other iconic writers and poets.

"It's right up the alley," Johnston said. "Now it's a Chipotle."

Old Corner Books

Ye Olde Corner Chipotle

Boston State House

I left the literary district for a pilgrimage to an immutable historic edifice: TV's "Cheers" bar, clear over in the far corner of the Common (or specifically the Public Garden section of the park).

I passed another sacred ground: a grassy plot at the State House where John Hancock's home used to stand.

Hancock Home

Hancock Plot


Cheers originally opened in the 1960s as the Bull & Finch Pub. The gift shop is the best part (isn't that true of most historic monuments?). Located in the Hampshire House next door, it contains fine souvenirs and a replica of the set used on the '80s TV show.

The actual downstairs bar looks almost nothing like the old haunt of Sam and Diane.

As I left Cheers and cut across the Common, I caught sight of the autumn moon beyond the Frog Pond and the city's skyscrapers.

Now Boston is a fond memory as we hurtle along the New Jersey Turnpike.


Old Corner Cheers

Cheers Set

Sam's Club

Sam & Diane

Common Moon

The week before Boston, you may recall, we were in historic Atlanta, followed by two nights in Greensboro, N.C., at the Cone Denim Entertainment Center, just across the street from the original Woolworth's where the sit-ins occurred that sparked the civil rights movement. It's now a civil rights museum.

Greensboro Sit-In

The Boston weekend started with a show at the Providence Theatre in Providence Rhode Island, and ended with another Shubert Theatre, in New Haven, Conn., home of Lew's graduate-school alma mater, Yale's School of Drama.

Lewis was a classmate of folks like Tony Shalhoub, Bradley Whitford, and upper-classmate Meryl Streep.

Two more shows, at the Theatre at Westbury, then we head home for Thanksgiving.

Well, Lewis will keep his annual holiday tradition by leaving the country.

I'll be home, toasting America's early days with Thanksgiving dinner, Boston baked beans, Boston cream pie and a cup or two of cheer.

Happy Holidays,