My dad grew up in Somerville, spitting distance from the Davis Square T next to Tufts. When I was a little boy I would walk the city with him and he would tell me the fascinating story behind every brick and cobblestone. Who drank at this pub, how old this store was, this is where the original Patriots had their first stand, this was the site of a major battle against the Redcoats, this is where I collected empty pop bottles so I could get into the movies … I loved going on those walks.
And I loved watching Schoolhouse Rock, which seemed to always have something to say about Boston. My favorite was (of course) The Shot Heard ‘Round the World. I still have a huge coffee-table paperback on The U.S.S. Constitution. I read Johnny Tremain so many times that I could tell the story of the American Revolution as a bedtime story.
One of the biggest thrills of my life was getting to ride the subway into the city all by myself at the age of fourteen. I told everyone I only went as far as the Harvard and Porter stops, but of course I lied. I went to Fenway Park.
My favorite song — and I can sing every word of it to this day — was about the Boston subway. It begins:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. In the course of our nation’s history, the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened.”
The Kingston Trio, M.T.A.