Saturday, 31 March 2007

64 no more

In 1964, my mum and dad and my sister, who was about a year old at the time, moved from north London to Boston for a couple of years. My dad had been offered a post-doctoral position at Massachusetts General Hospital, which I gather is linked to Harvard Medical School. I had always been quite proud of this fact, and so I was pleased we were taking a train up to Boston from New York to collect our hire car. We would get to spend a night in Boston and our road trip across America would officially begin there. We would also see if we could find 64 Kirkland Street, the house where my parents had lived between 1964 and 1966

We thought we might not get to sit together on the 4 hour train journey from New York, as it would seem that Americans have the ‘double-seat’ syndrome even worse than we Brits do. Each double-seat was taken up by a lone traveler with a strategically placed bag next to them. Even when Rachel asked a couple facing each other with their legs and bags on the vacant seats if we could sit on the unoccupied seats, they replied "our bags are there”. So helpful. We eventually settled for seats one behind the other, and I asked the lady (I say lady…) whom I would be sitting next to if she minded switching seats with Rachel behind so that we could sit together as we had work to do (a white lie, I know, but it sounded better than saying we wanted to sit together so we could hold hands).

“Does she have a window seat?”, the lady asked in return. Rachel didn’t have a window seat. “Then I’m not moving”. Cow. I decided instead to try my luck with an elderly Chinese woman (I don’t think it was the same one from Times Square…) a couple of seats back. Bingo. She seemed happy to move so that Rachel and I could sit together. You can say what you like about the Chinese but they do think of others (even to the point of warning you about the the mark of the Beast [see New York Times 2 post...]).

Once in Boston, our short stay (at the Omni Parker House hotel, the oldest hotel in the United States!) included the obligatory visit to the ‘Cheers’ bar, both the bar that was the original inspiration for Cheers, and the newer replica Cheers bar at Quincy market where I even got to sit in Norm’s seat! (Favourite Norm-ism is “Women, you can’t live with them… pass the beer nuts”.)

The next morning we took the T (Boston’s tube) to Harvard. Our mission this morning was to take a photograph of 64 Kirkland Street. Finding Kirkland Street was easy. Finding no. 64 was not so easy. That was because it wasn’t there. 62 Kirkland Street was there. But after that it went to a set of what I guess would be condominiums numbered 70-1, 70-2, up to 70-8. No 64! I tried knocking on the door of no. 62 to find out if they could shed any light on what had happened to 64 but alas there was nobody home.

So that was that. 64 Kirkland Street was no more. My parents' home from when they were here over 40 years ago no longer existed. And I guess that's it... it was over 40 years ago, and time moves on. Today is actually my parent's 45th wedding anniversary. So happy anniversary mum and dad! Here's to the next 45...

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