Friday, January 27, 2012

Minutemen and Magic Mushrooms

Thought for the day:  Massachusetts may be known by some as the baked bean state, but contrary to popular belief, the state's motto is NOT , "Who fahted?" 

I'm not saying this just because of the Boston Tea Party; Massachusetts is thoroughly steeped in the early history of our country. For example, the statue shown at left, located in Minute Man National Historical Park, commemorates the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington and Concord. From the early days of the Massachusetts settlement, all able-bodied men between the ages of sixteen and sixty had to serve in  the militia, which was a part-time citizen army, and I guess you could say the minutemen were like the Special Forces of their day. Drawn from the ranks of the general militia, these dedicated volunteers trained much more extensively, were expected to keep their arms and equipment with them at all times, and had to always be prepared to march at a minute's notice.

Just a quick handful of tidbits before we look at some pictures: Boston Common became America's first public park in 1634, and in 1636, Harvard became the first North American college. In 1789, William Hill Brown published The Power Of Sympathy in Worcester -- the book regarded as the first American novel. Birth control pills were invented at Clark University in Worcester, and the first Dunkin Donuts opened its doors in Quincy. (I suppose prior to the pill being invented, a donut held between the knees would do the trick.)

The Boston Tea Party is reenacted every year on December 16. At left is a picture of the Nathanial Currier lithograph depicting the original rebellion.

The USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, is the oldest fully commissioned vessel in the U.S. Navy. First launched in 1797, it was retired in 1881, and has been overhauled several times since its berthing at Charleston Navy Yard. It was declared a Museum Ship in 1907.

Emily Dickenson's home.

Ralph Waldo Emerson home. (not exactly a starving artist, huh?)

How cool is this? This house is the inspiration for Nathanial Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables. First built in 1668, the house was purchased and restored by Caroline Emmerton in 1908, and has been open to the public since 1910.

This is kinda like the home of the original hippies. In the 1840s, Amos Bronson Alcott founded Fruitlands Farm community, an experiment in communal living in a transcendental Utopian kind of existence. They were vegans, and the idea was to live off the land, and eschew that day's version of conveniences, (i.e. no hot water for bathing) but they found farming too hard, and the winter, too cold. The experiment folded after only seven months, but daughter Louisa May Alcott's book, Transcendental Wild Oats, tells her account of the experience.

Among other things, the Peabody Essex Museum contains 552 original documents pertaining to the 1692 Salem witch trials.

Hingham's Old Ship Church is the oldest church structure in the United States in continuous use as a place of worship, and the only remaining 17th century Puritan meetinghouse.

Robert Goddard, the Father of Rocketry and inventor of the first liquid fueled rocket, was born and spent most of his life in Worcester. Seen in the picture is Goddard with his first rocket, which was launched in nearby Auburn.

I'm as addicted to the newspaper as the next person, but have you ever heard of building a house with it? Talk about the original recycler! Built in Rockport in 1922, other than its wooden frame, floor, and roof, this house is made entirely of newspaper logs. The furniture is even made of newspaper, with the exception of a piano, which is decorated with the small logs. A grandfather clock is made from papers from the capital cities of the forty-eight continental states, and one desk is made of the Christian Science Monitor, while another is made from newspapers chronicling Charles Lindgergh's trans-Atlantic flight. Shown in the picture is the house's sunroom.

Okay, time to see what antiquated laws are still languishing on the books in this fine state. Oh, and a quick reminder: some of you have been baffled by the idiocy of some of the laws listed in past posts. They are OLD laws, some legislated centuries ago. Most are no longer enforced, but for reasons unknown, they haven't been removed from the books, either. I guess our legislators are too busy coming up with NEW laws to worry about the old ones.

  • It's illegal to give beer to hospital patients. (I prefer bourbon or wine, anyway.)
  • Shooting ranges may not set up targets that resemble human beings. 
  • Goatees are illegal, unless you pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one. (Think they have to pay more for a full beard?)
  • Taxi drivers are prohibited from making love in the front seat during their shifts. (No biggie. The back seat's much more comfortable.)
  • No gorillas are allowed in the back seat of any car. (Great! While you're getting busy in the back, he can sit up front and serve as look-out.)
  • Children may smoke, but they may not purchase cigarettes. (Of course they can't! Who gives kids that much money for allowance?)
  • Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder.
  • You may not, at any time, defecate on your neighbor. (I really wanta know the story behind this one!)
  • Quakers and witches are prohibited. (A strange coupling.)
  • Bullets may not be used as currency.
  • In Boston, it's illegal to play the fiddle. (Maybe it's okay if ya call it a violin?)
  • And two people may not kiss in front of a church. (Try a threesome. That oughta get 'em.)
  • It's illegal to eat peanuts in church. (Take popcorn. Or fried chicken.)
  • No baths on Sundays. (Gives never on a Sunday a whole new spin.)
  • It's only legal to duel to the death on a Sunday if the governor is present. (Better not get bloody, either, what with that whole no bath thing.)
  • In Hopkinton, although horses and cows are allowed in the common, dogs are prohibited. (Who has to clean up after them? Talk about some serious poop-scooping!)
  • In Longmeadow, it's illegal for two men to carry a bathtub across the town green. (Sorry, ladies. I reckon it's up to you.)
  • In Marlborough, it's against the law to buy, sell, or own a squirt gun. (Real guns, however, are highly encouraged. As long as you don't shoot at targets that look like your ex.)
  • Silly string is also prohibited.
  • And you may not detonate a nuclear device in the city. (Guess you'll have to carry it over to the next city.)
  • In Newton, the mayor must give all families a hog. (Beats a chicken in every pot!)
  • Native son Leonard Nimoy may not like this one. In North Andover, an ordinance prohibits the use of space guns. (Just in case, you know, Martians ever invade. Ya think anyone's told them?)
  • And finally, in Woburn, you can't walk around a bar with a beer in your hand. (Again, go with bourbon or wine.)
Okay, boys and girls, it's that time again. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

***  London may have found the perfect antidote for the winter blues. This week, art collective Greyworld installed a giant fake sun right smack dab in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Commissioned by juice maker Tropicana, this man-made sun is thirty thousand times larger than a soccer ball, and as bright as sixty thousand light bulbs. (Dunno what wattage) The Tropicana Sun rose at 6:51 AM, and set at 7:33 PM, allowing plenty of time for hardy Londoners and tourists to relax on the provided deck chairs to bask in the illusion of warmth.

***  Nice looking car, huh? Only it isn't a car. Not really. You could say it's for taking a body on its final ride from this world. Yup, it's a coffin. It seems some people are interested in a more unusual send-off than the standard wooden box. From January 20 until the 29th, some of these unusual coffin choices will be on display in London at an exhibit entitled Death: Festival for the Living. Some of the coffins look like such things as boats, cars, a big cocoa bean,  and a kite. After looking at the pictures, I've gotta say, some of those things (like the car) are too pretty to bury in the ground. Others? Frankly, I wouldn't be caught dead in 'em.

***  Maybe those hippies of the '60s were on to something. Recent studies show that psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, may actually be beneficial, and may have potential for treating depression, anxiety, and even cluster headaches. What's more,  this psychedelic substance gives healthy people a feeling of extreme well-being, a spiritual connection to the universe, and a heightened sense of empathy, which can last for an amazing year or more. No wonder those hippies were all about peace and love, huh? I found it somewhat surprising to discover that there isn't just one type of these shrooms, but rather a multitude of them. Only one I'd heard about before supposedly grows in and around cow poop. So natch, when reading about these new studies, I immediately thought about politicians. I mean, if you think about it, politicians are the masters of cow poop, right? Not to mention the countless cluster headaches they cause. So I'm thinking, maybe some of our old hippies should visit Capitol Hill and prepare a huge vat of mushroom soup for lunch. ASAP. Maybe it's time for those folks to get off their red carpet and take a magic carpet ride.  Whatcha think?

                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.



  1. magic mushrooms and politicians...couldn't hurt and might help

  2. I think one should point out that the mushrooms you illustrate are Amanita Muscaria; NOT Magic Mushrooms. Eat those and you'd probably end up in the morgue.

  3. But we COULD still feed them to the politicians right?

  4. The effects of the mushrooms could possibly make those debates interesting. Naw, not even magic could do that.

  5. Oh, so close to Rhode Island I could feel the salt spray on my face.

    And thank you so much for spelling fahted right.

    Saturday night baths were all the rage when I was a kid. Had to go to church on Sunday.

    Have a great weekend Susan.

  6. LOL! I think "Who fahted?" would be a brillian state motto.

    Also, I'm with you on the bourbon and wine in the hospital. Save the beer for the bahbecues. ;)

  7. Amazing history. I love learning about the first early settlements there. Those houses... drooooool!

    I wonder if the Mayor really does still hand hogs out, and if you could force him to, if not.

    Mushrooms in Capitol Hill... can't hurt!

  8. Delores- Politics can't get much worse! (She said hopefully ...)

    Cro- You know more about mushrooms than anyone I've ever known. Poisonous, huh? Sure do look pretty.

    Delores- HA! Works for me. On second thought, we'd better not. There may still be a couple worth saving. Somewhere. Really.

    Arleen- I think the mushrooms would make the debates a LOT more interesting!

    Anne- Getting closer. Glad you liked the "fahted". Made we giggle when I wrote it. You have a wonderful weekend, too.

    Linda- Yeah, me too, but I don't reckon the Bostonians would much appreciate it.

    Y'all take care.

  9. Carrie- I found pictures of a lot of amazing houses, but alas, I think they're all out of my price range. And I'm definitely thinking a little bit of mushroom magic might make things more mellow up on Capitol Hill. Maybe we're onto something here.

  10. I think this is the first time I've actually been to one of your Friday places that I've read. I have family in Massachusetts and have spent many summers visiting there, I love it. Loved this tour and the pictures. I don't think I'll be able to return though as I won't be able to have my gorilla in the back seat. Damn! Who knew?

    Hope you have a great weekend, Susan!

  11. Whoa, I worked in Woburn a few times, but never went to a bar there. LOL
    I saw the USS Constitution when they sailed it into Marblehead harbor back in 1997. It was really cool.

  12. Those crazy laws always make me wonder what the story behind them is. I mean, who tries to pay for their beer with bullets? How does that even come up in conversation? You know, I think we oughta pass a law about not using bullets for cash. So weird.

    Have a great weekend!

  13. Julie- Well, bummer I guess you'll just have to leave the gorilla at home the next time you visit.

    Jennifer- It must've been amazing to see the Constitution under sail. I've seen the Constellation many many times, but never saw her under sail.

    L.G.- Some of these laws are definitely crazy. I'm glad most of them are no longer enforced. You have a great weekend, too.

    Take care.

  14. This is especially fun because are a year (ending just this past November) I worked right across the street from the Old Ship Church. In fact I dove by it today. I've lived in MA all my life an never knew they reenacted the Tea Party each year. Thanks for the scoops.

  15. Liza- Well, how cool is that??? I hope you've had a chance to visit that house made out of newspapers. It sounds like something I'd love to see.

    Happy weekend.

  16. Now I want to read L.M. Alcott's book. Thank you. Sounds interesting.

  17. These posts are very interesting.We had a resident at the nursing home whose family would bring her booze, and she was already on extremely strong painkillers. She was always falling out of her wheelchair. The home had to take her to court to get rid of her.I would love to go to Emily Dickinson's house. A poem of hers starts "There's a certain slant of light . . . " My favorite professor wrote his dissertation on Dickinson. He visited her home and was allowed to sit at her desk. He said that at sundown, there really was a certain slant of light across her desk.Magical!

    Janie Junebug

  18. Thanks for bringing up the Alcotts, and all of this. Mass is our downstairs neighbor and it's where my family landed from NS so I'm forever connected. And, my husband proposed to me in Salem. If you ever go to the Seven Gables, duck and watch your head every step. Those people must've been shorties!

  19. I feel sorry for the taxi drivers who must forsake front seat follies while driving in Massachusetts! I like the idea of using some politicians to experiment with psychedelic mushrooms. Another great post Susan! Julie

  20. Skippy- You're welcome. If you find the book, I hope you enjoy it. (To tell the truth, I'd never heard of it before.)

    Janie- It's strange the things some people think are good to bring to someone trying to recovery in a hospital. One of my husband's "pals" smuggled a six-pack to him in the hospital once. Just what he "needed" after surgery, right? Needless to say, after wresting them away from my hubby, (just kidding!)I sent the dude on his merry way. Cool story about Dickinson.

    Austan- Yeah, the people must have been shorties years ago. Have you ever seen the size of the beds in the old forts and ships? Either the guys slept in the fetal position, or they weren't much over five feet tall.

    Julie- Nah, I don't feel bad for the taxi drivers; they probably don't want to hassle with the gear shift and steering wheel, anyhow. But I'm psyched at the idea of force feeding our politicos some empathy with those shrooms.

  21. What about brandy? Hasn't that always been medicinal.

    Very neat buildings you posted. Lot of authors from there, it seems.

  22. Shannon- There ya go. Brandy sounds like an excellent choice. (But I have a sneaky feeling the hospital will still poo-poo it.)