Apologies for the ribbon of pictures at the bottom of the last post, I’ll see if I can make the visuals a bit more stylish to come.
The first few days were a bit rough. A week before the move, I had wrenched my back similarly as I did in November while preparing to play Macbeth. This time it wasn’t nearly as bad, but on top of the move the timing couldn’t have been too much worse. Needless to say, I was still tender for the load and drive. By the time we had unloaded the truck all day on the 15th, I was hurting again. That meant pretty minimal activity on the settling front. Plus, with the school year rapidly approaching, I had to get on the stick looking for a teaching gig. Much to my chagrin, my endeavors to secure a position molding the youth of America have bore no fruit. It took the better part of the first week to even unpack the essentials.
Week two began with some investigation of my new surroundings. So here are some details of local color. We are in Waltham, MA, which is about 10 miles west outside Boston, along the Charles River. Most notably it is known as home of Brandeis University. However, the Waltham Watch Company, started in 1854 and lasting until 1957, made it known as “Watch City.”
For just over a century, the company was a maker of finely crafted timepieces and became particularly innovative in its manufacturing practices. They were so pioneering that after Henry Ford visited their plant he incorporated many of their methods into his assembly-line process for automobiles. More interesting than that, however, is the fact that Waltham was home to the Boston Manufacturing Company. This makes the town essentially the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Imagine that! The Boston Manufacturing Company, a textile company founded in 1813, was the first factory where all processes that carried raw cotton to finished cloth were completed mechanically in a single mill. The building still stands right where the train and bus drop-off is, between the Waltham Common and the Charles River. In fact, there is a dam that is visible from the main drag in the town, Moody Street, which the company once used to power the looms. Most of you know I like to know a little about where I am and such. So, having the opportunity to explore a little was a good way to get my history fix. Plus, since I’ve been free during the day, looking for a job, Ali and her sister Keri have been giving me research assignments. I get to do the dirty work of finding answers to all the history questions they have had and not had the chance to find on their own.
At the conclusion of week two, we spent a good chunk of the day at Crane Beach, up the northern coast on the Castle Neck, in Ipswich, near Cape Anne. Cape Anne is up Gloucester way, the centuries old fishing town and site of Perfect Storm fame, among other well-known references. It was a really nice beach. Named after Chicagoan Richard T. Crane, Jr., no less, he was a turn of the century industrialist who summered in Northern Mass. He was a Yale grad with a lot of New York friends, but apparently was not interested in building in Newport, RI, like everyone else. Apparently, Junior took his dad’s Crane Company from a brass foundry and built it into a giant manufacturer of bathroom fixtures, valves, and steam engines. He must have been a bit of a robber baron. He built one mansion on the property, decided he didn’t like it, and hired then world famous architect David Adler to tear it down and build another one that still stands. After his wife died, she donated half of their 4000 acres to the public. The other half got donated after their son punched out in the sixties. Now it’s all a National Landmark.
Of course I, in all my intelligence, thought, “It’s a cool day. This is New England, and much further north than Chicago. I don’t need to use any sunscreen immediately.” Well, needless to say, that was an extremely stupid notion to have crowded my melon. Despite putting the lotion on a bit later and actually getting out of the sun at some point earlier than Ali and Keri, I paid the price. My back got progressively redder from the burn as the night wore on and by morning I was one hurtin’ dumb-ass! You’d think I would know better. The only good thing was that despite the burn, my back started to feel a whole lot better.