I grew up in a little suburban town about 25 minutes south of Boston called Weymouth. Like so many suburban towns in New England, it was established sometime around 1635 and has gotten progressively worse ever since. You could go there now, but I’d advise you to lock your car doors and tell you not to expect much. It was nice enough in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, but as white flight really escalated during those decades, more city folk moved in and I guess you could say they brought a lot of the city to this town.
The reason why I bring this up is to tell you that the three most popular things among the teenagers growing up in Weymouth were (in no particular order) sex and drugs and rock and roll. For me, a late bloomer and a real wimp when it came to dangerous drugs, it was mostly rock and roll. One night I heard that a group of cool kids were making the trek from Weymouth to Boston to go see Dave Mason, who performs in Detroit tonight some 40 years later.
Yup, a group of real losers were traveling from that shithole of a town in some shitbox of a car INTO THE BIG CITY OF BOSTON. Bright lights, big city. Whoa. For me, even if I had been invited I probably wouldn’t have gone. I remember finding out the next day that on the way home, these punks – stoned on pot, whiskey and who knows what else, had actually sideswiped several cars and kept going. Not really my idea of a fun time, for me. But the funniest thing was watching silently from the sidelines as these kids made a huge deal about going into Boston. I think for some of them it might have been their first trip into the city. And it was only 25 MINUTES AWAY!!! Talk about a boring life.
See to me, Boston was already an old friend. Whether it was going to Harvard Square to hang out and watch the street performers or going to a Red Sox, Bruins or Celtics game with my dad, Boston was definitely not intimidating. I’d hitchhike to where I could pick up a bus that would take me to a train. And then the Red Line would have me in downtown Boston in a matter of minutes. I made the trip so many times, it had become a bit rote. I still got a thrill about being in the city, but I sure wasn’t going to brag about it.
The last time I was in Weymouth it seemed so small, provincial and ugly. It seemed as if somebody had gone in and taken all the really cool parts and moved them further south along the coastline, leaving behind a ratty little town with ramshackle houses and stores. It’s amazing how much a town can change in just 3 or 4 decades. Usually not for the better, by the way.
I read a book on the Mayflower and the pilgrims by Nathaniel Philbrick not long ago and had to laugh when I discovered that Weymouth was a failed colony – literally a place where all the ruffians from Plymouth Colony were exiled to fight and scratch each others eyes out.
Maybe things don’t change very much at all.