Almost without exception, I inform people the amazing things that I have discovered about Newburyport’s “Romantic Era” 1764-1864; and they pipe up, “You ought to give tours”!” or “Do you give tours?”
Taken aback, I’ve never really given it some thought. If I did it, it would definitely be done commercially because I could be working somewhere else making money rather than traipsing about for free.
We’ve had others give tours. Unfortunately, some were more thin in their presentation rather than substantive. Somehow giving the impression that no one could possibly know the facts in the blurry past – and leaving the tour guide to use his active imagination. It doesn’t take long before most realize they’re being taken for a ride. Others thought it would be a year-round proposition and after getting started went financially dry.
Newburyport IS a mystery. Visitors can sense history all about them – the buildings and streets literally wreak of it. And when they visit our museums to try to get some sense they are literally overwhelmed by our expanse of centuries.
The day I discovered Newburyport, I was 17 years old – rode my bike over from Haverhill where my family just moved in – after being impressed by the downtown, I rode up to Cushing House Museum. Three old ladies literally trapped me with exhibits after exhibits, stories upon stories – I was overwhelmed and fled after three hours…but happy to have experienced it.
But most who come just want to understand the highpoints.
THEY WANT ENOUGH SO THEY CAN WRAP IT UP IN THEIR MINDS WHAT NEWBURYPORT IS ALL ABOUT. WHAT’S IT’S FAME!?!
Most don’t get it, and they drive away unsatisfied – the back of their minds nagging them – there must be more than a tasty burrito at Agave’s or a great pizza at Oregano’s.
More than the blur of exhibits at the museums or the merchandise at the funky shops. More than the pretty boardwalk and lovely architecture.
THEY CRY OUT, WHAT’S THE THEME!!!!??????!!!!!!! SOMEBODY TELL US!
AND I’LL BE FRANK – NO ONE IN NEWBURYPORT IS WILLING TO ‘WRAP IT UP’ OR TO REVEAL THE THEME – MOST BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO EMBARASSED TO ADMIT THEY DON’T KNOW!
Most who now live here obviously weren’t around during the Romantic Era and many of the longtime residents had ancestors who moved to Newburyport long after that time and have closer connections with our rather bland, boring Industrial Era. They have no more an idea than a brand new visitor.
Well, I have the themes – and every bit of it is documented – still mysterious and most of it just crazy. To hear the telling of it – you’ll know it is not known anywhere else – no TV show, no library book, no you tube video and not even found in school textbooks or universities and yet all true– and yet, to hear the knowledge for the first time is to fire the imagination and to experience the thrill of an Indiana Jones unveiling some long lost relic.
* I am not telling you now – more later on a possible tour outline!