One might think that Plymouth, Massachusetts is one of those quaint
New England villages, full of charm and history. While it is certainly a
historic town, it is surprisingly devoid of charm. On Main Street, you
are more likely to find a CVS drug store than an interesting little shop.
And Plymouth provided Alexander and his parents with one of the worst
restaurant meals they ever experienced. We won't post the name of the
establishment here on The Alexander Home Page. If there's any
justice, they are out of business by now. But if you're going to
Plymouth, and you want to avoid a horrendous meal, write to us
and we'll give you the name of the place.
Plymouth, though, is worth visiting if you're in the area, as it is the home of two American icons, Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower, and the very interesting Plimoth Plantation.
The Mayflower! It is, perhaps, the most famous ship in American history. Every school child knows the story of the Pilgrims' voyage, which is commemorated every year on Thanksgiving, America's favorite pagan holiday.
While many of the facts of the Pilgrims' voyage have been lost to history, what is known is this: The Mayflower arrived in Plymouth Harbor in 1620, bearing a load of Pilgrims seeking a new life in America, with the freedom to worship as they pleased, and to wear big metal buckles on their hats. They landed at Plymouth Rock (more on that in a moment), were greeted by friendly natives (whose descendants surely must regret that hospitality) and feasted on turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and Stove-Top Stuffing.
While Richard Nixon is long gone, the Mayflower II was still sitting in Plymouth Harbor on September 12, 1998, when Alexander and his parents came to see it. While Alex was a little uneasy aboard the ship, he did listen intently as his father pointed out some of the features on the ship, and explained how "the wind pushes the sail, and the boat moves."
It's one of the most enduring legends in American history. The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. You can almost see Miles Standish on the Mayflower, peering through his spyglass, and saying, "There! Upon yon boulder shall I set mine foot!" or something equally corny. And once the ship was docked, each and every Pilgrim reverently stepped onto this magnificent rock, this Plymouth Rock!
Someone visiting Plymouth, Massachusetts for the first time might expect Plymouth Rock to be an imposing boulder, with a size and stature befitting its legend. Such a visitor would be dismayed and disappointed.
Plymouth Rock is about the size of a large potato. (Okay, maybe it's a little bigger than a potato!) It is unlikely that any Pilgrim ever stepped on it, or even noticed it. For over a century and a half after the Pilgrims' arrival, it was just a big dumb rock, sitting on the shore, with nobody paying it the slightest bit of attention. Then, in the late 18th Century, it occurred to somebody in Plymouth that
Anyway, around 1920, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims' landing, a large, Greek-style temple was built over the rock. Inside the temple is an iron fence surrounding a pit. Within the pit is a rather unimpressive, and essentially insignificant, rock. Plymouth Rock.
The Story of the Sea Gull
Alex's father did not want to give up that easily. He resolved to find the person in charge of removing rubber sea gulls from the pit. However, it was after 6 p.m. on a Friday night, and all the visitor services were closed for the evening. While Alex's father was pondering his options, and Alex was screaming for the gull, a Good Samaritan happened along.
"Is that your son's bird in the pit?" the tall stranger asked. When told that it was, the man heroically vaulted over the fence, landed in the pit, deftly scooped up the rubber gull, quickly climbed up out of the pit, handed the gull to Alex's astounded father, and disappeared into a crowd of tourists.
The Alexander Home Page would like to thank this noble stranger. The sea gull was restored to its rightful owner, and was able to safely complete the journey back to Alexander's house, where it was soon buried at the bottom of Alex's toy box.