Minute people

April 15, 2012

As in Minutemen, only families of them.  There were some in front of my house this afternoon, reenactors for the Patriot’s Day parade.  They got out of a yellow school bus, musket in hand, toddler in a wagon-like perambulator.   That mixture of old and new, bus and old-fashioned clothing, is what’s particularly startling to me.  When there’s a whole company of them marching down the street and shooting off their muskets, they sort of create their own reality, but only a couple of them against the backdrop of modern transportation creates dissonance.

But I was pleasantly surprised to see them at all this year (not so much the traffic back-up on my street, due to the detour), since they’ve moved the parade start location about a quarter mile away down Mass. Ave.  Used to be they’d march down my street on their way back from Lexington reenactments early in the morning on actual Patriot’s Day, muster down the street at a home I think Revere stopped at for a cup of water, and then fold into the parade a house-length from there, where my street merges with Mass. Ave.

The section of road I live on was actually part of the Country Road from Cambridge to Concord back then, the road bed down the hill where the corresponding section of Mass. Ave. now lies apparently wasn’t there yet.  A battle did take place down there on April 19, 1775, though, across the street from what is now a Dunkin’ Donuts, at a location known as the Foot of the Rocks.  The town was called Menotomy back then, later it became West Cambridge (in 1807), and then Arlington (in 1867), but now there’s a movement to rename the center of town “Menotomy Village” because Arlington gets so little attention on Patriot’s Day, and with tourists all season long, despite the battles that occurred here (and the Jason Russell House and the Old Schwamb Mill) — using the old name will help people recognize its name in historical accounts, I think the thinking goes.

In any event, Paul Revere and William Dawes will ride by my house tomorrow, surrounded by modern police on motorcycles.

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