Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Search of John Adams' Books

I have, unfortunately, come to Boston and fallen madly in love with the Boston Public Library. I can hear my kids yelling "Dork!" from here, but I don't care. It's an immense building, with a gorgeous central courtyard and fountain, marble staircases, fabulous frescoes, and a reading room that I would cheerfully live in, if I could. I was in heaven.

I went there because it's the first stop on my tour of literary Boston, and it houses John Adams' personal library. Should you ever need to FIND John Adams' personal library, let me give you this easy series of steps.

1. Go into the Boston Public Library and lurk by the main stairs. Watch for an elderly man who looks as much as possible like the late G.P. Winship. It helps if he is wearing an old sweater and a preoccupied expression.

2. Follow him up three flights of marble stairs, through a gallery of some French guy's political cartoons, past two abandoned letterpress printing presses, and through a room full of storage shelves and ancient card catalogues, wherein six men in turbans will be looking assiduously at musical scores.

3. Turn left past the display of creepy marionettes, and go through the book-thief-detector.

4. Stop in the display room, even though your unwitting guide will be waltzing through to the reading room. You CAN have access to any of Adams' books, but you'll have to think of a plausible reason, and that's hard to do on the spur of the moment.

Seriously, the Adams' collection was amazing, if only because it's so easy to imagine him holding those leather-bound volumes. I spent a LONG time at the BPL, exploring the building and reading histories of Boston in the reading room. I may have to move to Boston just so I can be near this place.

After I tore myself away, I bought a DMD at a drugstore, and drank it on the steps of Trinity Church, where I also made friends with a Great Pyrenees named Letty, and her owner. I have found Bostonians surprisingly friendly. The only experience I'd had with people from Massachusetts was in San Francisco, where our little pension also held six cranky and and pushy people from Cambridge. Turns out, they must have been anomalies.

From Trinity, I went to the Public Garden, where I sat on a bench and sketched, while my aching hip rested. Remembering the monster sketchbook that I made Kathy lug through Longwood Gardens, and not having her here to lug this one, I packed lighter. It came in immensely handy, though, for keeping notes and making small drawings. I pretty much wrote out the AmLit blog in it while I was at lunch (pizza at a bar called Uno).


Suzanne said...

I've been to an Uno in NYC. It was very good.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to Boston or NYC, so now I'm jealous. I'm also jealous of the library trip! I like cool things too!

Janet said...

Wouldn't it be fun to do a trip to, say, celebrate your graduations from grad school!!?