The Alexander Home Page presents
Alexander's New England Odyssey
Plymouth, Massachusetts

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 at 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.

Aboard the Mayflower II Alex and his mother aboard the Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship.
The Mayflower II
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.

Aboard the Mayflower II The Mayflower II in Plymouth
Above, Alex and his mother can be seen with the Mayflower II in the background. At left, Alex and his father discuss wind propulsion.
The Mayflower did not survive the 17th Century. It was scrapped just a few years after its historic voyage. However, the memory of the ship has lived on in the hearts and minds of Americans over the course of the following centuries. By the middle of the 20th Century, a movement arose to build a replica of this much-celebrated ship. While nobody knows what the original Mayflower looked like, historians made a best guess based on what they knew of other ships, and of the recorded size of the Mayflower. The Mayflower II was built in England, using the tools and methods that were in use centuries earlier. The completed replica sailed into Plymouth Harbor on June 13, 1955, and was greeted by Vice President Richard Nixon, who would later go on to greater fame as a failed California gubernatorial candidate.

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."

Plymouth Rock
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
Plymouth Rock. It is not easy to get a toddler to pose for a picture in front of Plymouth Rock.
maybe, just maybe this rock was the one the Pilgrims set foot upon. And from there, the legend grew. Soon, souvenir hunters began chipping pieces off of the rock. (One has to wonder at the potential value of a chuck of Plymouth Rock autographed by Mark McGwire.)

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
Alexander and his parents parked the car not far from the temple, and walked over to see the Rock. Alex brought along a little rubber sea gull that he picked up several days earlier in Bar Harbor, Maine. This sea gull was, at least that week, one of Alex's favorite toys. He enjoyed simulating flight by throwing the gull backwards over his head. As his parents were looking down at the Rock, Alex did his thing. The sea gull arched high into the air, Alex's father made a desperate, but futile, lunge, and the sea gull plummeted into the pit, bounced off Plymouth Rock, and landed on its back. Alex's mother gazed into the pit, and solemnly pronounced, "The sea gull is part of history now."

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.