By: Daniel Otero
My God, what a bone chilling winter, it must have been the night before a minus 27 degrees Celsius (-17 degrees Fahrenheit). Wow! Maybe give or take, since I’m exaggerating! Holy crap, the axle of my car rental had frozen [on this part I’m not exaggerating], as I was about to tour Boston. And I was warned by my friends, Christmases in Boston are cold. I been here before during the summer and as a little boy with family, but for winter this was a first! I thought, am I tough enough for this City? As I called the rental company, 90 minutes later I got a new vehicle. I was ready to view Boston once again…
“Tough but nice”, I agree with the general sentiment. Boston can be tough (not always in a good way), but it is very nice, too (MacDonald, 2013).
Boston is calling it out. A City of sweeping changes, and going back, it was easy to recall by its accent and language. Yes, it was English, but with a strong New England (States in the upper Northeast Coast: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut) accent and some words were kept in from the British imperial days over 200 years before. It was rather swanky to listen around and order some ‘chips’ instead of French fries, ‘rubbish’ for garbage, ‘trousers’ for pants or ‘constable’ for Police Officer. A ‘pint’ that is used for a liter of beer is commonly acceptable across not only Boston, but also the entire State of Massachusetts.
But it was the Irish that deeply made an influence in this town for good. From other terms like ‘parlor’, for the living room, ‘banger’ (headache), ‘bubbler’ (water fountain) and ‘barrel’ for a trash bin or container; these Anglo-Irish and Australian-English terms seeped into the Boston dialect and accent which is known and recognized throughout the world. These all came from Ireland or at least the majority. When over five million Irish people came to America’s shores in the 1840s, during a crisis called the “Potato Famine” and it killed over a million people back in Ireland. Boston was made tough by history and proud of it! Therefore, do not tell any Bostonian to the contrary. Tough minded, but simple, fiercely loyal and proud when it comes to “Boston Pride” with their sport teams, easygoing and friendly–with a mix of stubbornness. The Boston I know and remembered has changed for the best. Younger than New York City by six years, this City was founded in 1630, with the distinctive recognition as “The Cradle of Western Civilization”, but New Yorkers were never that close to history as Bostonians are to theirs.
Taking out a map of Boston, it wasn’t hard to understand why this area was much closer to its history. Names like Harvard, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Tufts, Lexington and Salem would just jump out at you. These names are recognized around the world and it has made Boston iconic for its quant-old city manner, culture and its closeness to nature. It’s a small place, but grand in heart and soul! It’s close to ship-replicas from its colonial past, architecture dating back nearly 400 years and contemporary ergonomics elegantly decorating the City. This is Boston, the one and only! The spirit of the people, well, just as exciting! It can never be compared to any other. Industry surroundings and it’s within the City, but in less than a couple of minutes, it’s a quick drive into the countryside. Boston has the best of two worlds and mighty fortunate to do so!
Boston has also one of the best lagers in the whole country, Samuel Adams Beer and maybe after Brooklyn Beer, the best in the world. Ha, ha, don’t let any Bostonian hear you! Since it is with these two cities, New York City and Boston have always had their rivalries and it is true when they ‘trash talk’ each other! You can’t beat the taste of a Samuel Adams. It goes down smoothly with its lighter versions and stronger-darker impact, for that full punch flavor, if so desired! Nowadays, few of the beers left in America have such great taste.
Expressions that make Boston more desirable and like any slang, for those foreigners outside of America just simply glamorous! Sayings from the street that are the backbone to any society; therefore, Boston has theirs. “Wicked” as in “wicked awesome” (really awesome) and “pissah” as in “I did a pissah job on that.” (I did an excellent/top notch job on that.) (MacDonald, 2013) It’s insanely cool to think of language-regionalism. And to anybody not from this area, it makes them interesting, even sexy when these mannerisms are spoken! There are more [words] and soon enough they shall be exposed… Everything is a learning process, so it is with Bostonian culture and beauty. Unique as the accent is an emphasis on the ‘A’, dropping the ‘r’ for the silent ‘h’. Words like car, yard or garage are pronounced: ‘cah’, ‘yahd’ and ‘ga’age’.
Boston does call out to me in a magnetic and significant way. Therefore, one must come out and see out of curiosity! I think of “Boston’s Tea Party” and America’s War of Independence nearly 240 years before. Call it another form of rebellion. And think about it. It was once a “nice cup of tea” for today a lovely cup of coffee!
More than calling itself, “Beantown” for its large export of beans, it’s better to refer to this New England town as always, “The Cradle of Western Civilization”. Definitely and maybe it sounds a little uppity and arrogant; but I couldn’t agree more with the term. America’s rebellion [began] here against England. And today, as far as we like to think of ourselves as “long-distance cousins” or “…blood is thicker than water” kind of thing, America’s anger also manifested in written English and the way things are said or spoken today. Like the emphasis Americans give to their ‘I’ with words ‘privacy’ and ‘vitamin’ or the ‘A’ in tomato. Not only continuing old rivalries there. It’s further gone into writing: dropping the ‘u’ in our ‘color’ (British way is colour) or switching around our ‘r’ for words like theater (theatre) or center (centre), etc.
Boston has the old world flavor. With the Irish influence came “Guinness” (dark-Irish beer) ‘guzzled’ down constantly after the three minute serving period. Boston’s Pubs are improved in their taste of beer, ‘wicked’ indeed.
Let me show you
For many, this area, Boston and the State of Massachusetts is where everything began. The pilgrims came all the way from England, puritans in fact to practice freely their religion. Sadly, their own lack of intolerance caused the Salem Massacre and witch hunts of the 17th Century. Boston in particular started the whole bloody mess with the English in 1776, to get rid of their yoke and from the 13 colonies began the United States of America. The City also has Harvard, which is over 350 years old. One of America’s oldest Universities and It is a center for the best minds in the States and all over the world to come study law, finance, economics and business. Can’t beat that! We have not only one of the best universities in the Americas, but four in the city of Boston and as a gift to the world! And America with only 237 years of foundation was always an entrepreneurial place, where the spirit of innovation was born!
Boston has had its negative past. In the 1970s it dealt with anti-segregation bus laws against minorities, especially African-Americans. The Irish mob ruled in the 1980s and later began shedding its bad reputation to rebuild a city in high quality of life. Closer it is to the green of trees and forest, for that exceptional beauty. Expensive and gorgeous! In part a City of over 600 thousand, give or take. Excellent place for a new start and young professionals…
Seafood here is another part of life. Give me the clams, oysters and chips, surf and turf, prawns and crab with sauce. Now, I’m in seafood heaven! A metropolis close to the sea, Boston has its own share of lighthouses and fishing areas for the tourist and local alike. As I mentioned the pilgrims before, I will again mention Salem. This town is less than 16 miles away (27 kilometers) and it is a good drive there to either enjoy these magical-witches with spells and incantations or again, some good old “fish and chips” at the lunch or dinner table. Salem has had a tragic history. Sixteen people here were crushed, burned and hung! Mostly this was caused by false accusations, religious intolerance and ignorance during the 1600s. Much of what most pilgrims were escaping from back in England, they just repeated it here within this ‘new world’ and their communities.
In their majority, also Native Americans did suffer from the intolerance of these new comers. Whom [white men] called them ‘savages’ and treated them like low class citizens in their own land, and the story repeats itself. You see, it was in these parts and especially New England that began with traditions of Thanksgiving. This holiday was a time of sharing and being thankful for the blessings of harvest! Pictures and drawings in history books try to show Pilgrims and Native Americans sharing as equals. These images couldn’t be further from the truth. Less than three hundred years later, the Native American people had been nearly wiped out and destroyed. For these reasons, many Native Americans refer to Thanksgiving with sarcasm as Thanks-taking—what the white men took from them in food, people, possessions and life!
Back into Boston, the best thing is to take a walk or boat tour along the Charles River and Esplanade. On a sunny day the wind chills are still at a minus. It just shines in beauty across sparkling waters, white boats and the rippling river. Some parts already frozen, ‘icebreakers’ come and go to allow the fluidity of the river shipping. “Rowes Wharf” would be a perfect idea if you’re a marina fan and love replicas. This is what Boston is best known for, replicas in fashion of boats and buildings to model those from the late 18th Century, pre-Industrial Revolution era. The Massachusetts State House shines with its golden-dome, a natural envy in architecture and few buildings are made like this anymore. Center of Boston politics, I’m having fun and don’t want this experience to end. I’m wrapped in a warm coat and having a coffee, but still freezing my butt off!
Boston is a city for the young, hip and it has a high population of students from all across the country. It has the top four Universities after all. It has energy unique only to this area in learning centers, its financial district, bars and discos. Young people are jogging through the center in the morning, “tough but nice” indeed. Jogging, it’s a bloody cold morning! People, it’s a minus Celsius day!
Boston has recently held its own share of tragedies. The bombing of the Marathon (2013)
was tragedy that killed three people! One of them an eight-year old boy, Martin
And one thing will never change for this city. This town is full of hope. It will always look for a brighter day! Boston has had its share of problems and always through willingness and spirit, it comes out on top. Great town, small in size, big in heart!
Boston continues on changing its image to a positive one. Presently a police series began about Boston. “Boston’s Finest” is a reality T.V. show intending to change the image of the Boston Police Department from negative to positive.
Riding up and down Boston, I think of trekking up that hill and recall again that cold winter morning. Being careful for “black-ice” on the road! I just decided to drive a little slower. As the sun is rising up [between warm and super cold] and what a great feeling! The air is frosty. I view the obelisk and what a beauty, Bunker Hill stares back at me. Cruising through Boston’s Charlestown I’m proud of its Revolutionary past, although I’m not from this City. I’m from rival New York and I try to keep that low and quiet. Feeling groovy, happy to have revisited and be here once again! Then secretly I tell myself, “I’m a Bostonian at heart!” Feeling the surge of a well done tour and I was awesomely ‘pissah’ about it.
*Photo is a reference from Wikipedia.org, used solely as a promotional tool for education and tourism.