April, 1958. We had a family vacation to Washington DC during school vacation week. Most states have vacation in March, but Massachusetts and Maine have it in February (the week of Washington’s Birthday) and in April, (the week of Patriot’s Day. Why Massachusetts? Patriot’s Day is a holiday because of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. “One if by land, and two if by sea, and I on the opposite shore shall be…” The Boston Marathon is held on Patriot’s Day. Thus the title for Mark Wahlberg’s movie about the 2013 bombing. And why Maine also? When Patriot’s Day was established in the 1800’s Maine was still part of Massachusetts.
Back to 1958. The whole family…my parents, older and younger brothers and younger sister…drove down. I-95 wasn’t around back then, so we were on US Route 1 pretty much the whole way. Pretty slow going. When we gout out of Baltimore my father got on the B-W Parkway, a four-lane expressway with no stop lights. He tromped on it and hit 60 MPH. My mother announced that we were going “a mile a minute” which sounded like jet propulsion.
We visited all the DC stuff…a tour of the White House, the Smithsonian, Ford’s Theatre and the Peterson House across the street, the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the FBI, the Capitol. We rode in a special subway that goes from the Capitol to the Senate Office Building. Dad took us up to the office of US Senator Leverett Saltonstall (D-Mass). My father went in and talked to the Senator for what seemed like an hour, we sat in the lobby, bored to tears. When Dad finally emerged from Salty’s office had had front row tickets to Opening Day at DC’s Griffith Stadium, where the Washington Senators were hosting the Boston Red Sox.
We stayed at the Statler Hilton (now known as the Capitol Hilton, which turned out to be the same hotel where the Red Sox were staying. My bother Hugh and I were running around the lobby hoping to get an autograph or two…and we did get pitchers Tom Brewer and Frank Sullivan. And then….and then…whom do we see in the middle of the lobby but Ted Williams. He looked like he was eight feet tall. Of course, I was only 9 at the time and way less than four feet tall. Hugh and I wanted to get a Teddy Ballgame autograph, but he wanted no part of it. We wound up chasing him down a hallway where he rushed outside and hopped in a cab.