I celebrated Thanksgiving 2016 in Plymouth, Mass. This was a trip of a lifetime –13 lifetimes, in fact. My amateur attempts at genealogy, enhanced by the power of Mother Internet, turned up something very cool: no fewer than four ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. What to do but celebrate Thanksgiving 2016 in Plymouth, Mass.?
Some people thought I was brave to attempt a family road trip from Michigan with two aunts and two teenage cousins. “I’d rather be on the original Mayflower,” was one reaction. Have you SEEN the replica of the actual Mayflower? You’d violate Admiralty Law, Coast Guard regulations and probably the Geneva Convention trying to cross the North Atlantic in that today.
Yet, 100 Pilgrims (they called themselves Separatists) and a crew of 50 braved the North Atlantic as winter was coming. One of my ancestors was named John Howland, who was known for several things. He was the thirteenth signer of the Mayflower Compact, despite having been an indentured servant (he inherited from his childless masters when they died in the terrible winter). He was one of the last surviving original settlers.
And, he almost didn’t make it. The captain had ordered the passengers to stay below-decks due to harsh weather. Howland, doubtlessly needing a breath of fresh, 30 degree F air and some 44 degree salt water, went on deck –and promptly was washed overboard. (Yes, these are my people…) There is a beautifully illustrated and lightly fictionalized children’s book about John Howland available. Maybe in 13 generations, someone will discover this blog and write a children’s book about me? I haven’t fallen from any historical vessels, though E-2 prop wash almost knocked me off the flight deck of the TR, many years ago in a past life.
Planning on making a Thanksgiving trip?
What to see: Plimoth Plantation, a reconstructed version of 1627, is south east of the modern town. The tour starts with Wampanoag Village, where you can see how the native people lived around the time when the Pilgrims landed.
Pilmoth Plantation serves Thanksgiving dinner. The buffet style is less expensive than the served meal, but it is well-orchestrated and the same food. It’s probably much tastier than dinner in the 1620s, too.
The only contemporaneous structure in modern Plymouth is the Jabez Howland House. It was continually inhabited until 1912, when it became a museum. The tour of the restored house shows how lifestyles evolved. In the 17th century, the family pretty much shared one multi-purpose room, while by the late 18th century, living spaces looked more modern.
Where to stay: if you have DoD base priveleges, the CG station at Bourne rents out townhouses. This is a big summer vacation area, so you’ll have the place to yourselves in November. Some of the seasonal shops and restaurants are closed, but enough are open to enjoy yourself.
What not to see: The Plymouth Rock. First, it is a weeny-looking lozenge of a thing, which crushed my childhood imaginings of the Pilgrims standing on this massive granite cliff in their funny hats, leggings and bonnets. Second, there is no evidence that it had anything to do with the actual Pilgrims who actually landed in 1620. Daniel Webster made a big deal of it in a speech in 1820, and its reputation grew from there. It is like a geologic Kardashian: famous for doing nothing.
Unrelated Massachusetts trivia: If you aren’t interested in Pilgrims and Wampanoags, did you know that Masschusetts has not only a state poem –but a state polka? [scroll to bottom of page]
Corey is not quite an international woman of mystery, but is hard at work becoming a regional person of interest. Previously both a Classics Major and an Army Major, she is currently travelling where the road will take her and leaving digital footprints at www.greensunla.wordpress.com. Upcoming reports may include improving trails in Muir Woods, diving from a liveaboard in the Bahamas, flying military Space-A across the Pacific Ocean, and taking a month long cruise to Antarctica on a refitted Russian research ship. You may also check out some older writing at https://coreyschultz.contently.com/ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.