Lately, we’ve had a resurgence within popular culture of a real fear of facts. I personally think it has been a reaction to another popular movement propagated by people like Steven Hawkings; and others like him that the Universe is nothing more than a huge mindless machine; doing what huge, cruel, heartless machines do best – just plowing along. No heart, no meaning, no kindness.
They would look at a sport’s car and explain ad nauseam of the motor and the aerodynamics and the science behind the engine forgetting the way that car looks and feels to an admiring onlooker and denying the designer who’s vision became reality.
Life itself is a wonderful miracle – all the components may, if examined through the cold eye of a microscope may be explained and catalogued; but it doesn’t take away that it’s happening and happening in such an amazing way. These excitement stealers would attend a Shakespearean play and rattle on about the costumes, and the props and even the stage as if the actors had no other role as to be paste board figures.
These dull people would look at a Newburyport artist’s painting and prattle on about the canvas and the pigments used, and the technologies applied. Ugh. I would not invite these kinds of people to the next Newburyport Art Association gala event!
So too with prattling historians who go on about historical facts as if there were no heart and soul behind them. The participants’ ideologies, their spiritual states and their vision of the future are totally ignored, making them cardboard figures stuck on an event! Or worse, they try to infuse some contemporary issue into the past as if that was even on the minds of the participants.
Okay, enough. I’ll get off my soap box and focus on what should be focused upon when it comes to Newburyport. Our city is soaked in historicity but what kind of historicity. The fact is that from 1764 to 1864, this community was involved in a period of time that was filled with romance. It was saturated with a magic in the way the citizens behaved doing heroic deeds as if it was the most natural thing to do for the day. And leaving their achievements for us to decipher, mysteries that endure right into the 21st century and which we must with much effort reveal so the light of day can see it and the rest of the world can know it.
When I say Romantic, of course; I’m not saying pleasant – but it was definitely not boring.
There was frontier living, pirate attacks, witch trials, the Great Awakening, the American Revolution, , Privateering the New Republic, the Federalist Party, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Embargo Act, the Great Fire, the War of 1812, Smuggling, Shipbuilding and the Clipper Ship, the Abolitionists, the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.
After 1864, came the soul-killing era of the Industrial Revolution in full swing. These patriots turned into tidy producers in material-consuming factories with regular hours and regular family life and regular bills and mortgages. For social stability it was great but for romance?
Read a novel about some far away place – it wasn’t happening here.
Our heritage tourism needs to focus on the first 100 years – for it stirs the soul, inspires one to mimic their attitude and deeds and makes one proud of the real American story.
People come from all over the world to pick up that emotional and spiritual inspiration. While they are shopping, eating in our restaurants and yes, licking down an ice cream cone; they can feel it all about them. They walk up and down our streets and wonder what events lay behind these historic houses, large and small. That sense of history has been lost to those who live here as daily drudgery makes us blind to what our visitors feel so sharply.
P. Preservationist will do what ever is possible to promote those factors that make our city so attractive. (regardless of the weather) I vigorously promote our museums which allow our visitors to satisfy that itch for meaning from all that history. I actively make aware those events and tours that explain those first 100 years. And I also make aware to as to many who will listen of threats from those who thru failed ideologies or just plain ignorance want to snuff out what makes Newburyport special.
PS. I blogged during the Tom Ryan years. I blogged during the Liberator years and I blogged thru waves of issues and threats to the city. I have been blogging since 2009. So for those newcomers who wonder who I am – I count for nothing. The “P” stands for poor with little resources – but what I am rich in is experience, facts, historical substance and power of presence. I know what is going on in the city – do not discount my statements! And though I may be a Jeremiah at times because I have been ignored (Remember when they said there was no such thing as a Newburyport Historic District? Now it’s codified in our city ordinances and zoning.) – my warnings of future consequence by doing so are well-documented and give credence to more warnings for the future.