The last day of my 36th year of teaching was Thursday, June 2.
That made the first day of my summer vacation yesterday, Friday, June 3.
I spent the celebratory day – and a glorious, New-England-in-June day it was – in Boston, with my cousin, Jack, on our 3rd Annual “Eric-&-Jack-Go-To-Boston-and-See-the-Red-Sox Day.”
Through my daughter’s connections with a generous season ticket holder, I was able to buy two tickets (Grandstand, First Base side) to a Red Sox night game vs the Oakland Athletics. Thanks to Jack being able to take the day off from his job, we were eager to make a whole day of it and thus caught the 8:30 am, C&J bus from Dover into Beantown.
From South Station, we first took the “T” to the North End in search of ravioli and cannoli for lunch. We found both – delicious ravioli at “Rabias,” on Salem St.; justifiably-famous cannoli at “Mike’s,” on Hanover St. – and then started our day long saunter towards Fenway Park.
Along the way, I was struck by how often we encountered music.
In the Downtown Crossing subway station, deep under ground, a steel drum player bounced his metallic melodies off the dingy walls. On the Boston Common, a bearded fiddler enlivened a grassy corner. In the Public Gardens, a saxophonist, wearing a Berklee School of Music sweatshirt, serenaded on the foot bridge over the Swan Boat pond. On Newbury St, at the Mass. Ave. end, another saxophonist played and swayed in a patch of shade against the wall of a vacant store front.
On Lansdown St. and Yawkey Way, music, both live and recorded, is a major part of the Fenway Park Experience.
From the still-chill-inducing strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” (sung on this occasion by an excellent, local, adult a capella vocal group) to the victorious (yes, despite a horrendous top-of-the-first inning, the Sox won, 8-6!) clangor of “Dirty Water” by 60’s hometown heros, the Standells, music is constantly being played at Fenway when the game isn’t.
For example: at the start of the second inning, the thunderous riff of “Voodoo Chile” by Jimi Hendrix caught my ears. I’m not sure who it was being played for – the coming-up-to-the-plate Oakland batter or the beleagured Boston starting pitcher, Clay Buchholz as he worked on the mound taking his warm-up throws – but it ceratinly implied that someone needed to get serious about the task at hand.
Fenway Park maintains the wonderful tradition of the singing-along of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch (complete with electric organ accompaniment by Josh Kantor) and no Red Sox baseball game would be complete without the every-voice-in-the-house rendering (or rending) of Neil Diamond’s 1969 hit “Sweet Caroline,” halfway through the 8th inning. (“So good, so good…”)
And then, since the score of last night’s game was close going into the ninth, the portentous and threatening opening chords of “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys (lyrics by Woody Guthrie) filled the stadium and announced the arrival of the Red Sox closer, Jonathon Papelbon.
There are few more definitve moments of the power of the perfectly placed piece of music.
What a day!
If every day is as filled with music and fun as the first one was, this is going to be one incredible summer!