Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boston - Day 4, The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

If you're interested in United States history, you will love Boston. I've been privileged to visit the city more than once, and I'm glad you're joining me down memory lane for this retrospective look from a trip in 2002. This is my relatively unedited travel diary. As usual, you can do a quick gloss-over, or you can dig deeper with the links. I hope you enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, July 30

I have the car today, so the first thing I did was to find the nearest train station. I'm planning to take the train in to Boston tomorrow, where I look forward to doing the self-guided downtown walk. I don't want to drive there, because I might not be able to find my way out. Seriously, you do not want to drive around downtown Boston. It's a maze of one-way streets, all of which are under some kind of construction, plus there's the Big Dig [clearly, this was during the Big Dig construction...]. They're in the process of putting the freeways underground. [Driving was much smoother during a subsequent visit, the Big Dig having finally been completed, no doubt on time and under budget...ha!]

Thunderstorms were expected, so it seemed like a good day to do some indoor exploring. I drove to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. It was my very first visit to any presidential library, and it was [especially in retrospect] engrossing and thought-provoking, not to mention memory jogging. The Oval Office, the press room memorabilia from the period, Jackie's fabulous and tasteful clothing, films about the Cuban missile crisis [I hadn't realized previously just how close we came to nuclear war] and the election campaigns...I could have spent all day there. The guide book recommends two hours, but that's just ridiculous unless you're just doing a walk-through. I was there for three and a half, and that wasn't nearly long enough. I wouldn't mind going again!

It's strange to realize that all the things I heard and saw today are just history stories to younger people, while they're very personal memories to me. It's difficult to describe the feelings of nostalgia and deep sadness that surfaced. The tears that flowed. Kennedy was a shining star. His family was young and vibrant. There was a mystique about him, a vitality that infused the country with hope in perilous times. He was our knight in shining armor. It was Camelot. And then it wasn't. And everything changed. Innocence lost. Cynicism born. But, who knows? Maybe if he'd been allowed to finish his term and serve a second one, we'd all think he was a scoundrel and a disgrace. Such is politics. And we didn't know about the womanizing and who knows what at that time. Not that we care about that kind of thing now, but that's a subject for a different blog altogether [Chrissie's Confessional].

The exhibits focus on the accomplishments of the administration (the Peace Corps, civil rights, the space program, etc.), and the assassination is downplayed. There's a brief video clip of the news bulletins and funeral in a darkened hall. Very tasteful, I thought.

Also, I saw Bobby [Robert Kennedy] exhibits, Martin Luther King video clips, Teddy [Edward Kennedy] clips, and a clip of young Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK, and what that meant to him.

When I left at 3:30, it was rush hour. Hooray. But I made it back in time to pick the hubster up at work. He was tired and didn't feel up to driving around touristing, so we ate at Chili's and went to see a movie, “Men in Black II.”

I'd like to go back to Walden Pond and just sit for a while, soaking in the atmosphere. The thunderstorms that were expected today never materialized, but it was very toasty and steamy (though nothing compared to Washington, D. C.). It is supposed to be drier tomorrow, but still hot.

I'm sorry I didn't have any photos to share with you today, but you can see lots of them through the various links I've provided. 

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