On our first day in Massachusetts, we (Peg and I and dear friend Al Burrage) had a council of war and planned where we wanted to go and what sites we wanted to see. Peg’s main concern was to see Quincy, Massachusetts. Ever since she had seen the mini-series on television based on John Quincy and Abigail Adams (and read the books of course), and attended a history class with her mom at a local community college, Peg has wanted to visit the Adams’ homes. Visiting Quincy became our number one goal.
“Just minutes south of Boston awaits one of New England’s most captivating destinations, the City of Quincy (“quin-zee”). Called the ‘City of Presidents’ and ‘Birthplace of the American Dream’, Quincy is the birthplace of the second and sixth U.S. Presidents, John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. Rich in historic treasures, Quincy’s impressive past remains vibrant today as the city lays claim to an exciting future.”
Although our number one goal was to visit Quincy, Massachusetts and visit the home of John Quincy and Abigail Adams once we drove up from West Dennis out on Cape Cod, our immediate goal was lunch. We saw many pubs and restaurants that looked interesting, but upon further investigation we found them to be closed. One even advertized twin lobster dinners for $16.95. I parked the car and walked over to the restaurant only to find a sign that declared their opening hour at 4:00 PM. I wept at their locked door.
Walking back to the car I saw a Brazilian restaurant, Terra Brasilia’s. They advertised a lunch buffet. We walked in to investigate. The buffet looked inviting. Peg decided to pay for her buffet by the weight, while Al and I decided to try the full buffet for only $13.99. I was a little familiar with dinner from South America. On a trip to Seattle, we discovered the Buenos Aires Grill, where we have dined three times now.
After serving ourselves side dishes and salads, we were able to choose our meats. Since Peg was paying by the weight, she could only go to the kitchen once for a cut of lamb. Al and I were issued a “Yes” and “No” card to place next to our plates. As long as the card read “Yes” the cook would continue to bring skewers of meat and cut off sections at the table. Our only problem was with the lamb. It was overdone for our tastes. However, the fillet, the rump roast, the sirloin, the pork loin, the bacon-wrapped chicken breast, and the sausage were all cooked to perfection. The beef was all served moist and rare. All said, “I’ve died and gone to meat heaven.” For about fifteen minutes I joined him there.
After lunch, we drove to the Adams National Historic Site. Peg signed up for the two-hour tour. Al roamed around the gardens, and I put the seat back in our car and took a nap. The historical site was beautiful, and I did enjoy what I saw.
“Located just eight miles south of Boston, this site commemorates the public careers and literary contributions of John Adams, the second president of the United States, and four generations of his family, including John Quincy Adams, the country’s sixth president. It is the only place in the nation where the story of two presidents can be told from their birth to their final resting place.
The park is on 13 acres and has 11 historic structures, including two modest saltbox dwellings that are the oldest presidential birthplaces in the United States. Begin your tour here. John Adams was born in the north house in 1735, and some 75 yards away to the south, stands the house wherein 1765 he brought his new bride, Abigail Smith. Their son, John Quincy Adams, was born in that house in 1767.
John Adams and his family were living in the second house when he drafted the Massachusetts Constitution, the forerunner of the U.S. Constitution, and this is where Abigail wrote many of her famous letters during the Revolutionary War, reminding her husband to ‘remember the ladies.”
The family’s mansion with its beautiful gardens is the start of the tour. Known as the “Old House,” John Adams bought this dwelling from the Vassal-Borland family in 1787 and moved in shortly afterwards with his family. The Old House was home to four generations of the Adams family: two presidents, statesmen, authors, and scholars. It remained in the family until 1946, when the Adams Memorial Society donated the house, along with its contents and grounds, to the federal government.
While peacefully rocking on the porch of the mansion and waiting for Peg to finish her tour, I received a call from a client, Harry and David, the gourmet condiment people. We laughed and talked for a while . . . and I promised to eat three lobsters during the trip for my contact. It was difficult, but I did.
“The Old Households a vast collection of decorative arts, objects, furnishings, and memorabilia acquired over nearly 150 years by different family members at various times. Adjacent to the Old House is the Stone Library, which was constructed in 1870 by Charles Francis Adams, John and Abigail’s grandson.
Considered this country’s first presidential library, today the beautiful building houses 14,000 volumes accumulated by several generations of the family.”
Looking in my rearview mirror I saw Peg get off the trolley and walk toward the car. She was tired, however, I was refreshed. We left the historical site and headed to Harbor Express, which is next to the site of the U.S.S. Salem. The USS Salem CA-139 is now the world’s only preserved heavy cruiser. She is moored at her birthplace, the former Fore River Shipyard.
“Ordered by the US Navy on 14 June 1943, USS Salem (CA 139) was laid down on 4 July 1945 at the Bethlehem Steel Company’s Quincy Yard in Quincy, MA and launched on 25 March 1947. She was commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 14 May 1949.
U.S.S. Salem served a distinguished 10-year career as flagship of the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Second Fleet in the Atlantic. During her career she served as host to such notables as the US Ambassador to Spain, John D. Lodge; the Honorable Thomas S. Gates, Undersecretary of the Navy; Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; the Shah of Iran; the President of Lebanon and the King and Queen of Greece.
Although Salem never fired her mighty guns in anger, her very presence served as a stimulus for peace during those troubled times that came to be called the Cold War. She served as a Lady of Diplomacy, rather than as a means of exerting brute force.”
Before Al and I were kicked off the cruiser, we stepped inside one of the main turrets. I can’t imagine the massive damage that must have been done to the inner ears of anyone inside the main gun like that. There is even an alarm bell inside. When that went off it had to deafen anyone inside. These guns fire eight-inch shells weighing about 240 pounds at a distance of up to 18 miles. It was fun turning some of the controls inside the turret, but during a time of war, I bet the walls seemed to get closer and closer. I could almost feel the pressure . . . and we still had the door open. We said goodbye to a friendly volunteer working on the deck (the volunteers are building a haunted ship for Halloween to raise money for the Sea Scouts).
We stepped onto the gangway and were surprised to see a German submarine sitting next to the Salem. Boarding the cruiser all our attention was focused on the heavy cruiser. It was a shock to see a two-man submarine. I wasn’t even aware that the Germans had such a thing during World War II. I knew the Japanese did, but I didn’t know about the Kriegsmarine.
We walked all around the sub and when I got to a computer I checked out the information on the internet about the mini-submarine, which would have carried two torpedoes. During WW II the German Navy constructed a very small submarine, designed for two crewmembers. The general name for that size u-boat was “seehund” which means seal. The technical equipment for the small submarine was nearly the same as that of larger full-size boats. In addition to the boat in Quincy, you could visit one at Munich’s technical museum: Deutsches Museum. Most of the “Seehund” survivors joined the Verband der Seehundfahrer – the association of SEAL-Sailors. Klaus Mattes wrote Die Seehunde an interesting book about the technical matters and the operations of the German mini-submarine.
“The U-5075, a training kleinst-u-boot, was brought to the US for testing and evaluation in 1945. Then parts of it (the periscope, passive sonar and torpedoes) were removed for further evaluation. Our ”075” was then put on display at the Groton Submarine Base (SuBase), in front of the administrative building. It sat there for about 50 years being ignored and neglected. Then it was moved to the USS Nautilus Museum just outside the main gate of the SuBase. In 1997 it was given a marine survey (a professional damage/deterioration evaluation). A few years later, our museum in Quincy got the Seehund. This was because the Nautilus Museum needed the Seehund’s space so it could display the US Navy’s 50-foot X-1 four-man u-boot. Incidentally, the X-1 also needs restoration.”
Al and I played with a gun emplacement on the dock as well as a mine. Even though I used my shoe I couldn’t get the mine to work. There was a jeep there as well, but it was missing the seats, so was a little uncomfortable for sitting. Al and I finished our games of make-believe and returned to the car. Peg was a little grumpy. She only had a short nap. Peg expected us to be gone for hours. The cruiser was actually closed, so we only played for about half an hour . . . and part of that was checking on the ferry departures the next day for Boston.
We really enjoyed our day in Quincy, and the next day we really enjoyed our day in Boston, but when we get the opportunity to return to Massachusetts I think we will stay in Quincy for several days and take the ferry to downtown Boston. That way, we can enjoy both Boston and Quincy. It will also stretch our budget by staying in Quincy rather than the higher-priced hotels in Boston.
Don Doman is a published author, video producer, and corporate trainer. He owns the business training site Ideas and Training IdeasandTraining, which he says is the home of the no-hassle “free preview” for business training videos. Don and his wife Peg also travel in the Pacific Northwest writing about their fun and adventures. You can read their stories at NW Adventures NWAdventures.