Marjorie LaRue-Britt and I decided to “discover Boston” Saturday, after breakfast in the hotel. As an aside, I would not recommend the corned beef hash. It was overdone and came with baked beans. When the waiter asked if I would order it again, I honestly had to say, “No.” Marjorie’s omelet seemed, with hindsight, to have been a much better option. Having said that, I must tell you I received a call from the food and beverage manager of the hotel after I got back to ask in more detail what the problem was, and to apologize.  Now, that’s service!


What better way to begin a walkabout than with a pedicure.  After all, happy feet make for a happy walker.  That was our story and we’re sticking to it.  The concierge recommended a spa on Newberry Street and off we went.  There was lots to see on Newberry.  Many high end retailers have shops there, and there are many architecturally interesting buildings, along with a number of beautiful old churches.  At one point there was a mini craft fair, with vendors selling jewelry, art, scarves and music.  The sidewalks were crowded with folks strolling, taking in the sights, and enjoying the lovely weather, which seemed tailor-made for walking.  We’d walked a fair distance down Newberry when we arrived at the spa.  After waiting 20 minutes, the receptionist told us the first available opening would be in 4 hours (so why did it take 20 minutes to figure this out?) and with that we left after sweetly telling them they’d been so highly recommended by the hotel that we were disappointed.

But, there were adventures to be had, so onward we went.  When we got what appeared to be the end of the shops on Newberry, we asked for directions to the T (Boston’s metro) to Faneuil Hall Marketplace (which is also known as Quincy Hall so don’t be confused, as we were).  By the way, an MBTA day pass is only $9.00 and is a good idea if you’re going to spend the day travelling on public transit.  It is good on the subway, bus, and some commuter rails systems. We’d been told the Faneuil Hall area was a fun place to stroll andto  people watch, and even better (for me) that there was a Harley shop there. The crowds on Newberry were nothing compared to the throngs at the marketplace.  Their marketplace is not too far from the water. It houses, just about every kind of shop you can imagine, along with a number of restaurants, and it is enlivened by creative, high energy street performers.  You can also pick up a number of tours there, including the double-decker bus, trolley and the duck tours. It’s also very close to the aquarium and nearby you can select one of several boat tours.

We strolled along keeping an eye out for the Harley shop, taking in all the sights and sounds of the marketplace. Unfortunately, when we did find it the shop was a disappointment.  We were never greeted, heaven forbid offered assistance, and the selection of t-shirts was limited and neither interesting nor attractive.  Although I like to pick up shirts from different places, this one was a pass. After an hour there, it was time for us to head to our next stop, Harvard University.

 The trip from Newberry Street to the marketplace required us to take two different subways, connected by long walking tunnels, but that was nothing compared to the trip to Harvard.  If my memory is correct, we started on the blue line, then transferred to the orange line to pick up the red line (and I may be leaving a color out, I’m not sure).  Each transfer stop was like a scavenger hunt. There were clues leading us to the platform we needed. We went up, down, around and under.  Marjorie cracked, “It’s a good thing we can read.”  To which I replied, “Yeah, and that we’re not in a hurry.”  At one juncture we pushed the “ask for assistance” button and a disembodied voice came on telling us in a nearly incomprehensible accent where to find the train we sought. I do have to say, however, that the subways were clean and quiet, and fellow passengers were friendly and helpful.

The transfers took longer than the ride out to Harvard, once we were on the red line.  The train was fairly crowded and many of our fellow passengers exited with us at Harvard Square in Cambridge.  The first thing I thought about when we came up from the subway was Click & Clack, the Tap It Brothers on NPR’s Cartalk.  They always mention being on Harvard square during the show, and many times I’d pictured what it looked like, so it was really fun to be there. An entrance to the campus is right across from the T station.  We walked through the large gate, and onto the older part of the campus.

For some reason, I’d expected to see grey stone buildings covered with ivy, but that was not the case.  The majority of the buildings we saw were red brick.  There were very colorful chairs on the lawn everywhere and people were picnicking and reading.  We wondered if that were typically the case or if there were some special event going on that drew so many people to campus. We wandered for a while taking in the beauty of the campus and came across the statute of John Harvard and learned that the custom is to rub the statue’s left foot for good luck, but “rub at your own risk,” as Harvard undergraduate students have a longstanding tradition of urinating on the statue at night.

  We decided to look for the law school and began asking for directions.  It turned out everyone was a touris but on our 5th try we asked a young man pulling a suitcase and he gave us directions. The law school was more in line with my expectations of what Harvard would look like. It was grey with massive columns.  The Latin inscription, “Non sed homine sed sub Deo et lege” was carved over the entrance to the building. We Googled it and found that it meant, “Not under man but under God and the Law.” As anticipated, we could not get in to take a look around. For a moment, though, I wondered if there was someone on the faculty who we might call to open the door.  Of course that was a long shot and as Marjorie reminded me it was, after all, a Saturday.  After taking a few more pictures we headed back toward the gate through which we entered to go to the Coop, a famous Cambridge bookstore.

We used the “Around Me” app to locate it and started on our way.  We were the blue dot, and Coop was the red dot.  We walked in the direction indicated by the map on Marjorie’s IPhone.  Before too long, Marjorie said,”We’re off the path.  It doesn’t look like we’re going the right way any more.”  Lucky for us, we looked up and saw Officer Friendly of the Harvard P.D. giving directions.  We walked over and asked how to get to the Coop.  He told us we’d really have to keep an eye out because it was easy to walk past if you didn’t know what you were looking for.  Then he did a remarkable thing.  He told us he’d walk with us.  On the way we began visiting and he told us there had been a big fight the night before on the square after a church gathering.  He said, “All hell broke loose.”  “Ha! Pun intended.” I quipped, then I added, “I bet you guys were saying, Holy crap. I suspect the devil made them do it.” “Oh, I see,” he said, “You’re one of those.” “Nope, I said, I am an angel.” “Uh huh, yeah I can see that,” he answered skeptically.  Marjorie just shook her head.


 By that time, you might say (as I would) we’d established a great rapport so he asked, “Where are you from, and what do you do?”  He very pointedly included Marjorie in this question figuring I guess, that birds of a feather….  So we told him and he said, “Wow, my cousin is the dean of UDC law school. We are all so proud of her.”  “Shelly Broderick?!” we said in unison.  “Yes, we know Shelly, she’s great. Let’s take a picture together and I’ll FB it to her. Well, she isn’t my FB friend so I had to send her an email (how quaint). “By the way,”I said,” we can’t just call you Shelly’s cousin.  What’s your name?” “John Melia.  It’s a good Gaelic name.”

So that’s how I ended up emailing Dean Shelly Broderick a picture of me with a police officer.  While I was doing this, several groups of tourists came up and asked for pictures with Officer Melia.  He turned to me with a wry smile and cracked, “Now see what you started?” But, he was pleasant to all his new fans and ended up in several pics.  When Shelly got my email she immediately wrote back, “I’ll represent you.  What do they think you did?” She hadn’t recognized her cousin from the picture, so I wrote back and told her who it was in the picture and she wrote back, “That’s ok.  I’ll still take the case.  How in the hell did you meet John Francis? Where are you?”


When we got that all squared away, Officer Melia asked whether we’d seen the new law school. “Huh?” “Oh yeah, there’s a beautiful new building on Massachussetts Avenue past where you were.  Tell you what.  I’ve got a few minutes, come with me and I’ll drive you up there.”  “Really? Uh wait. Not in a police car?” “No I’ve got my vehicle.”  On the way there, he explained that the recently completed building cost $50 million.  If there were someone near the door, we’d bang on the glass, explain who we were and get a quick look inside. Unfortunately we couldn’t rouse anyone so we had to content ourselves with pictures of the outside and peering in through the windows.  After that, Officer Melia was kind enough to drop us off at the Coop.  We gave him a big hug and shook our head in astonishment at the joyful surprise of meeting him.

The Coop is a very, no, mega-large bookstore, full of activity the day we visited.  It felt almost overwhelming in size.  But I thought if anyplace, the Coop would have the book I was looking for, Luther on Vocation, which the bishop mentioned would be a useful resource for an article I was working on.  The very bookish sale clerk peered at me over his glasses.  “Luther?”  “Yes, as in Martin Luther.” “Ah, there it is, but we don’t have it.  Is it for a class?” “No, a paper. Well, we could have it in two days.”  I explained that we were from out of town. “Sorry about that. Good luck with your paper.”

After we left there we decided to look up a pub named (we think) New Science that Officer Melia told us was owned by Dean Broderick’s niece, Bea.  We couldn’t find anything by that name, but we did find a Miracle of Science Pub using Around Me, and we took a cab to check it out.  When we got there we asked for Bea, and were told that there was no such person and, “all the upper management of the pub are men.” “Humph!” We sat there enjoying our refreshing beverages, searching again in vain to find the New Science pub, and finally gave up.  We wondered just how many colleges and universities were in Cambridge, as we’d seen a number on our adventure including some we’d never heard of.  It turns out that there are 9:  Harvard University, Episcopal Divinity School, Hult International Business School, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Lesley University, Longy School of Music, MIT, Teleosis Homeopathic Collaborative, LLC, and Weston Jesuit School of Theology

By then it was time to start thinking about dinner.  We’d been so busy exploring that we hadn’t thought about lunch.  Fortunately, social media came to the rescue.  Alumnus Peter Sullivan FB’d me to tell me about a terrific Ethiopian restaurant, Addis Red SeaEthiopian food sounded good to Marjorie, and we headed over there. Our server seated us by the window and we people watched as we waited for our meal to be prepared.  We ordered a ($26.95 for two—very reasonable) combination platter which included, lamb, chicken, beef, salad and greens. We added a side order of lentils, and I opted for an Ethiopian beerMeta, which was quite good.  As you may know, the meal is also served with Injera bread, which is used as a utensil.  By that, I mean you tear off pieces of the spongy bread to pick up the different components of the meal.  It is a meal best enjoyed with good friends, for that reason. The food was terrific and we were grateful to Peter for the recommendation.

The ride back on the T was easier because we only had to take the red T to the green and walk a few blocks.  Along the way we passed Boston Commons (“Oh, that’s where it is?”).  While we were walking back to the hotel, we decided to end the evening with a show, since the hotel was in Boston’s theater district.  Why not?  The concierge informed us that we’d missed the start of the Blue Man Group, but that there was a hilarious show, Shear Madness, that we might enjoy. When we got there (a bit frazzled, because I’d forgotten the map) we were seated right next to Dean Kent Syverud and his wife Ruth, yet another joyful coincidence.  They’d been to an Afghan restaurant in Cambridge and enjoyed their meal too. I took out my camera for a picture of the set and the stage manager came over to tell me photos were not allowed, but he’d take one of us on the set after the show.

I’d heard of Shear Madness, but experiencing it was something else.  What a riot!  I loved all the puns and malapropisms.  It was clear too, that the cast updated the script with current events which made the dialogue relevant and much funnier.  The night we saw it one of the main characters ad-libbed so much and was so hilarious, that the cast had difficulty holding it together.  It is an interactive who-done-it play during which the audience was asked to help solve the mystery.  Great fun! I definitely recommend it. As promised the stage manager took our picture, with my camera and his (for FB) and with that we walked back to the hotel, enjoying the beautiful evening and each other’s company.