Poppins or Bond


The streets of downtown Boston were gray and cold, but the windows of the department stores we had come to town to view were bright and cheery. The evening was all planned out. It was Christmas time and the displays at Filene’s and Jordan Marsh were doing their jobs, collecting hosts of shoppers. Our family among them.

The street vendors were out in full force too, crowding the sidewalks and causing blockages. Despite all that we were able to get in close to the windows.  The fact that we were children, probably helped. In the main, of course, they were desiged to capture our imagination. Models of picturesque villages under a blanket of snowy cotton. Always with something in motion, such as mechanical figureskaters making prescribed movements atop a mirror pond, or circling airplanes, trailing banners with holiday wishes.

I’m not sure if a surprise was planned, but that’s how it turned out.

The plan was to see the sights and then to see the sight.  Mary Poppins was playing first run downtown. It was in a small venue though. And when we arrived it was sold out.

My folks found another spoonful of sugar to help get that pill of disappointment down.

Also downtown was that monster sized theater, with over 4000 seats, called the Metropolitan. Though crowded, there was still room to catch a performance of the current blockbuster – Goldfinger. We made our way up to the balcony, which was Titanic-sized, and like the Paramount in Salem, you couldn’t see the main floor below from there. We sat somewhere on the right, at least I remember the wall on that side, and that side only. It’s strange that I can only remember two sides to the “box” we were in. It was like the other half of the auditorium didn’t exist. Perhaps I noticed it, then turned my head to the screen and stopped and kept my aim there.

The brassy sound of the intro music (and Shirley Bassey) set the tone for the adventure that was to follow. We jump right into the action, as Bond blows up a secret facility hidden in a fuel tank. And then segue into the main story as Bond meets the challenge of a card cheat, cum golf cheat, cum gold smuggler and villain with a plan for world economic domination – Auric Goldfinger. And all with the help of the silent,  heavy (and cool) henchman, Oddjob, who even had his own music motif. But then there was that masterpiece of Q’s lab wizardry, the fully tricked out Aston Martin DB5. To a kid the stuff that dreams are made of.

One way or another we were to spend an evening with a Brit, who was practically perfect in every way.


ET was an Orphan

ET may have left home, but Salem was a recent residence and it had not been “home” for all that long.  Danvers was his most recent abode as mentioned before, according to the 1860 federal census, but it is difficult to know how long he had lived there, though I do have a clue.  I just recently discovered that he was an orphan, and would have been since his mother died in 1853 when he was just thirteen. At the time of the 1850 census he was living in Roxbury, Massachusetts, with his mother and her second husband Calvin Gilson.  His step-father re-married in 1858, so I am guessing that he was apprenticed to the cordwainer in Danvers sometime soon after that.  His mother had married Mr Gilson in 1848, three years after his father had passed away (I’m going to save the topic of his father for another day).
So arriving in Boston, he was not only returning to the place of his birth, but he was also nearby to Roxbury, the place of his formative years.  Though I am sure, those days to him belonged to the past; he had the excitement of the future before him.
Most of the 8th regiment had already reported, all of its companies so far were from Essex County. The SLI marched to the State House and there received overcoats and knapsacks. (ET and the rest of the recruits did not have uniforms. The only thing “uniform” about them would be these items).
While here in Boston the company performed various drills for the curious public.  As a result, the newspapers from this time forward would celebrate them as “The Salem Zouaves.”
They took their noon meal with the rest of the regiment and later received their standard from the Governor.
At five o’clock in the afternoon, after a light supper they “took the cars” to Washington DC with Brigadier General B F Butler in command.  It was April 18, 1861.