Tuesday, April 19, 2011
April 19 is Patriot's Day
You might want to write this down.
NOBODY Outside of New England knows from Patriot's Day.
Here's the skinny: The American Revolution began with the Battle of Lexington at dawn on April 19, 1775. Seventy-seven "minute men" stood up against 500+ advancing British troops who were enroute from Boston to Concord. (The were in boats, by the way. It was "two if by sea") There was an arsenal in Concord the British meant to seize. Now, the good people of Concord, and I love many f them, will tell you that the American Revolution begin in their attractive hamlet. It's true there was a full scale battle at Concord bridge, but with love to those deluded Concordians who insist otherwise, the American Revolution began on he town green in Lexington Massachusetts at dawn on April 19 1775.
I wasn't there. Growing up in Lexington April 19 was a huge holiday. Schools and businesses closed. There was the 6 a.m. reenactment of the Battle of Lexington, with uniforms proudly worn by the rapidly aging soldiery, who turned over in favor of sons and younger brothers every few years. Of course there were no female soldiers. Jeez. This was the monolithic age. A hapless teen was drafted to play Johnathan Harrington. He was mortally wounded that April morning, but managed to crawl across the Green to his house, where he looked up at his wife...and died. Why THAT hasn't been made into an opera yet is any one's guess.
The parade had floats, town selectmen, the occasional elderly Red Sox pitcher, and every high school marching band within thirty miles, complete with chubby majorettes and pimply tuba players. If you had to pee while watching the parade, and many of us did-you repaired to the yard of one of the stately homes lining Massachusetts Avenue and hid behind a tree--or not.
There were pancake breakfasts, neighborhood cookouts, fifes and drums out the wazoo and enough beer to float the saddest Irish wake (There is no such thing as a sad Irish wake, unless the potato salad is lousy) It was a wonderful community day, withal, and I miss it. Ninety percent of us wouldn't have known Captain Parker from Captain Crunch, but with all respect, who cared?
Today Lexington is awash in ethnic restaurants and banks. All the charm is gone. The beautifully maintained green and surrounding houses still look lovely, but Mass Ave is now a jumble in a town trying to be if not Cambridge, then maybe Monte Carlo. I wonder what date Princess Grace celebrated Parrot's Day?