Saturday, September 27, 2014

Abigal Adams--Much More Than Fenway (Part I)

Back in the early 1980s, my mom gave me four biographical novels about First Ladies. The ones about Rachel Jackson, Dolley Madison and Mary Todd Lincoln interested me to a degree, but the novel about Abigail Adams totally captivated me! The early scenes of her life in Braintree (such an interesting name for a town, I thought) filled me with wonder, and her amazing devotion to her husband John inspired me. When I moved to the Greater Boston Area in 2002 to marry my own John, I thrilled to live in the same area where she lived. Idolatry? I pray not. But I do  get excited about her.

I enjoyed taking John to Fenway for his birthday last month, but I  admit to struggling with jealousy. I had my "landmark birthday" last year, so this year's birthday promised to be a major let-down. Still, yesterday's weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I expressed a desire to go to Quincy, where John and Abigail Adams set up their post-Revolutionary War home, Peacefield (part of Adams National Historical Park). Immediately (and to my surprise), John cancelled long-held plans so that we could go!

We visited Peacefield back in 2003, but only toured the garden outside. Which satisfied us, though I remember very little of what the ranger told us. Although I hoped a ranger might speak with us briefly yesterday, I prepared myself to simply wander about the property for a few moments. And indeed, I delighted just to see Abigail's house.

Two rangers, Carol and Caroline, met us at the gate, determined to get our wheelchairs on to the property. Once we'd told Caroline about my mom introducing me to Abigail and my love affair with Abigail as a result, she made up her mind that I would have a very special tour!

Both rangers wanted their pictures taken with "Abigal's #1 Fan," presumably because most visitors to Peacefield and the other two Adams houses know little about the Adamses (and certainly haven't read multiple biographies as I have).

Carol left us to  lead a tour group, so Caroline took us around the grounds as she and I traded stories and trivia about Abigail. I enjoyed simply being outside Abigail's rooms. 

Caroline, however, wanted to get us into the Long Room, where portraits of various family  members populate the walls. Time today won't allow me to display all the photos we took in there, but I must show you this one that Caroline took of me and John admiring the famous portrait of Abigail that Gilbert Stuart painted during her time as First Lady.

And time indeed forces me to stop writing today. After church tomorrow, I'll show you the rosebush Abigail brought back from England and the 12,000-book library that John and Abigail accumulated.

At dinner last night, I looked over to John and, with tears in my eyes, said, "That was my Fenway!" John agreed that we knocked it out of the ballpark.

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