Sunday, September 2, 2012


While in Boston, I called several of my old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades. We got together at a local saloon and revisited old times. Back in the mid-70s, we all worked for the same company.


You’re probably thinking that this collection of old farts used to make buggy whips or Victrolas. But we were cutting-edge, working in the music business making keyboard synthesizers back when they were designed using analog circuitry. To this day, those instruments are prized by audiophiles and often sell for more than they cost brand new.

One of these guys was a design engineer, one was a circuit board designer, one was a production engineer, and one was the janitor, who later worked his way up to general manager (no kidding).

We closed the bar and then hung out in the parking lot for a while, reluctant to say our goodbyes.

I was awakened the next day at some absurd hour of the morning, and dragged out of the house by my wife and her friend (who I call Prudence) to take a ferry boat to Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. I was in full hangover mode, cringing at the sunlight, ill-tempered and non-responsive. When I asked why we were taking this trip, Prudence used two words you should never say to a man in my condition: “Hiking trails.”

We drove down to the waterfront, where real estate prices are sky-high. But not for this resident, moored at a wharf in a tiny houseboat:


At the other end of that same wharf were huge mega-yachts:


Once on the ferry, we passed the end of the Logan International Airport runway, and large jet aircraft passed only a couple hundred feed over our heads. We arrived at Spectacle Island, which we were told was so named because it resembles a pair of spectacles. But I thought that it was because the view of the Boston skyline is spectacular.


Boston Harbor has undergone an amazing transformation. In the 70s, it was a sewer, and the waterfront was a rat-infested slum. The Big Dig opened the waterfront to foot traffic by removing an elevated highway, and a massive sewage treatment project has resulted in clean water for the first time in a hundred years. Spectacle Island used to be a garbage dump, but it has been sealed over by dumping the earth removed from the Big Dig. Now it’s a park.

My friends declared their interest in hiking to the top of a hill to “get a better view.” I elected to lie down in the shade of a Scotch Pine and wait for their return. This was my view:


I lay there in the shade, drifting in and out of sleep, marveling at the number of sailboats that were cruising around. Like me and my old buddies, they seemed like curious relics of a bygone era.



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