Parking only for Pilgrims in my neighborhood, Part 2
One of the other things that our Mayor of a record-breaking 20 years has done is put up plaques to himself (as "Mayor Thomas A. Menino") all over the City, as though he, and not Boston real estate taxpayers, were responsible for whatever project a particular plaque celebrates. I don't think that is for our valued tourists. Maybe the plaques were intended to help Menino get re-elected so many times, without draining his campaign war chest?
I'm guessing no one has, or will admit to having, a record of what puting up those many plaques cost Bostonian real estate owners after the years, including those struggling in their old age to keep the home or condo they bought or inherited many years ago as young marrieds. (Around 2002, my real estate taxes more than tripled in one year. Surprise!)
Taking down the plaques will cost taxpayers more thousands of dollars now that Menino is leaving office (voluntarily--I feel sure that he would have won again, even with the charter school money backing challenger and election loser Connolly).
Everyone who ran for Mayor recently promised not to put up vanity plaques. So, fingers crossed that Mayor Elect Walsh will not yield to the Mayoral equivalent of tagging.
Still, Menino has (I think) been a fairly good Mayor overall, albeit apparently a vain one. I am fairly certain that he is expecting to have a statue erected in Boston to him some day soon. I strongly suspect that is why, a few years ago, Menino erected a statue in Boston to then aging Mayor Kevin White, the mayor whose record of longevity in City Hall Menino broke. If there is a Mayor Kevin White statue, surely the mayor who served even longer than White will get one, too?
Menino has lost considerable weight since the fall early in 2013 that shattered his bones and left him using a cane ever since. (He was hospitalized for that fall when the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon and was, I assume, fighting a lot of pain as he hobbled to altar to speak during the memorial ceremony attended by dignitaries, including the President and First Lady.)
(For theorists speculating that no actual bombing occurred and no actual victims exist, think again, dumbasses. Regardless of who you think was responsible for what, innocent people lost lives and/or limbs.)
So, as we look forward to a new Mayor in January, I hope that Mayor Menino has many years of retirement from City Hall to enjoy.
New York Daily News photo of (I assume) a presser about the Marathon bombing, with Menino in his wheelchair, surrounded by, among others, Senator Warren, Governor Deval Patrick looking down at Menino, and, next to Patrick, Congressman Lynch, my Rep since the re-districting). The story that accompanies the photo, however, is about Menino's decision not to run again.
Meanwhile, I did find a pic of the Revere statute, with the church tower of the Old North Church visible behind it, but in summer.
In the foreground you can see evidence of one of several religious feasts that the original Italians who eventually settled Revere's neighborhood celebrated in Italy/Sicily and adapted to the New (to them) World, starting in the 1880s. (The Italians supplanted the Jews and the Irish, who were moving on up by then. Then, yuppies supplant the Italians. Though many Italian restaurants and grocery stores remain, many of their owners tend to commute--or are part of the less ethnically identifiable yuppie population has been re-settling this wonderful neighborhood.)
The great grandkids and great great grandkids still celebrate those Saints' feasts today, even if they have to return from the suburbs where they now live so to do.
The money you see in the photo donated by residents as the procession led by one statue or another makes its way through the neighborhood. Some of it is money local shops owned by old-timers have collected from customers prior to the feast. Ten or fifteen years ago, it was common to see the collections near cash registers. Now, I notice them only at the neighborhood pharmacy.
The money pinned to ribbons streaming from the statue of one Catholic saint or another (in this case, St. Joseph, I believe) is handed over to the priest of one of the several local Catholic churches at the end of the procession.
They still even celebrate the fishermans' feast, even though no one has made a living fishing off Boston's piers for a long time.
Originally, the families of the neighborhood cooked the food in their homes and brought it to the street to be shared by their neighbors. Wish I had been around then, for all that home cooking. Now, concessionaires from all over show up to sell food at the feasts, mostly to tourists.
Revere's house, restored (note the much taller brick building behind it).
Revere attended one of those churches, although none of the neighborhood churches were Catholic in his day. (Papa was a French Huguenot immigrant, mama a WASP, whose family had already been in the New World for generations, so it was a mixed marriage by the standards of the day.) However, by the time Rose Kennedy was baptized in the same church, the tiny neighborhood boasted several Catholic churches, including the one where Paul and his Dad had worshipped (not the Old North Church in the photo, though). Rose was eulogized in the church where she had been baptized, so the whole Kennedy clan, Arnold and many, many vistors descended on us. And, as a homage to his mom and her original family, including her father Mayor "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, who helped Joe launch Congressman John Fitzgerald Kennedy into politics.
(I stood on the sidewalk to watch Senator Ted Kennedy's funeral procession pass that church, as a nod to his mom and her original family's history here.)
Speaking of Paul, it's almost time for the "not-Christmas, not party" at the Revere House.
On the first Saturday in every December, the house is the site of "an extended Thanksgiving celebration," complete with cookies baked from Revolutionary War era recipes, mulled cider, harpsichord music, etc. So visitors to the house in the off season get a special thanks for coming by.
Revere would not have admitted to celebrating Christmas. The Puritans who settled Boston never would have celebrated Christmas because no such celebration is mentioned in the Bible and they thought of themselves as adhering closely to the Bible.)
No self-respecting descendant of Puritans, like Revere'd mum, would have admitted to something as "Popish" as celebrating Christmas, the way that Catholics did. However, if you visit the Revere House in the beginning of December, a telltale orange in the bowl on the table rats out the Reveres.
Oranges were very hard to come by during the freezing Boston winters of the 1700s. So the presence of the orange signals visitors that the Reveres were celebrating something in December, if not decking the halls with anything but a bit of pricey citrus.
The pretense was that commemoration of the first Thanksgiving, certainly ok in Massachusetts, had extended in December, so very very grateful to God were Bostonians of Revere's day for the survival of some of those first settlers. I guess that it was the reverse of the modern syndrome, in which the commercialization of Christmas crept back from Christmas to Thanksgiving, even to November 1. Instead, the Reveres tried to stretch Thanksgiving to as close to Christmas as seemly. Hence the "not Christmas, not party" at the house is early in December and not "Popishly" on December 25 or anywhere near it. (Bear in mind, colonials were still celebrating New Year's day on March 25, not the "Popish" January 1. So, they could not pretend that they were getting a jump on New Year celebrations: extending Thanksgiving, it had to be. Better to celebrate the Julian calendar, brought from Egypt to Rome by a pagan emperor who claimed to be a god himself!
So, in the wee hours of this Black Friday, which probably would be even more horrifying to Puritans than our after Christmas sales, I pause to thank Paul Revere and Mayors White and Menino, and all the many others who have contributed to the very rich history, sad and happy, of this city. And to say "Shame on you" to stores (including the local Starbucks) that force workers to work --often for low wages--on Thankgiving Day.
(Many of those who cannot travel to the Revere House can still enjoy the Revere House website, where a lot of the information that I gained from walking over there, and then some, resides in cyber space for all to see.)
P.S. Given that the 70 year-old Menino's Mayoral career was ended by a fall that shattered his leg bones (much as my 60 something surgeon's career in the OR was ended by a fall that shattered the bones in his dominant arm), I hope docs pay more attention to osteoporosis in males. They've been making a deal of it for older women for ages, but maybe older men also need calcium, Vitamin D and magnesium supplements?)
(Another post that is all over the place, courtesy of adult ADD. Sigh.)
2. the only sign of Christmas in the house is a sneaky orange.
Fox would have excoriated Paul and all the other non-Catholic colonists!
As the Revolution begins, the colonists consider celebrating Christmas non-Biblical and something for non-Catholics to be ashamed of, and done only secretively. BTW, there is also obviously some bigotry against things "Popish," so Bill O'Reilly would not have been beloved. Then again, the revolutionaries pretty much drove out the right wing, who fled to England, Canada or secluded places, far from the folks in the population centers. (Loyalist re-enactors at Paul Revere's home and King's Chapel explain all that. History Detectives on PBS revealed a story about a son living on Cape Cod fleeing to England while his parents stayed put.)
FYI: The Bible does contain an express admonition against bringing trees into the home, as pagans of them did. I'm not sure sure if the Biblical admonition relates specifically to the pagan yule log, which has now been incorporated into the Christmas celebrations (as have so many pagan yule practices).
Buche de Noel, a Christmas favorite, in the shape of a pagan yule log
True, the prohibition against trees in the home is in the Old Testament, but, AFAIK, nothing in the New Testament contradicts it. (The apostle Paul said it was okay for converts from paganism to Christianity to stop eating kosher. I have forgotten if he similarly relieved converts to Christianity from Judaism or people who were born into Christian homes. But, suffice it to say that bacon is very popular.)
And certainly, noting in the Bible tells us to celebrate the birth of Christ. Jesus never said to do so and, after his death, there is nothing saying that the disciples did celebrated his birth. So, if you are raised very Biblically to this day, you do not celebrate. In the very fundamental church that I attended until I was about 15, there were no trees or Christmas decorations in or around the church, not even a nativity scene. However, sermons and hymns near year end did rejoice over the birth of Jesus to deliver us from our sins.
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