July 25, 2013

Greetings from Newport, Rhode Island, where I’m blogging from the Yankee Peddler Inn‘s quaint parlor on a cloudy, breezy morning that smacks of an early late-summer day. There’s something about this town and its history that always touches me deeply whenever I’m privileged to visit here. A couple of months ago I was in San Diego; some call it the west coast version of Newport, but besides the money, the boats, and the beautiful people who flock to them like moths to a porch light, there’s nothing really these towns have in common.

San Diego is a pretty cool place but it has (at least to me) a very modern feel to it. Of course, it’s just as old as Newport is, but as a New Englander and an American its history seems unaccessible to me. Newport, on the other hand, speaks to me in a way I can relate to: tiny streets, old houses, and leafy trees, the romantic, quaint feel of a place where generations of people little known or long-forgotten have passed through on their way from nothing to nothing. People, houses, places, and things that floated in, flourished, declined, and then passed on into history.

From my location I look out the window and see lovely houses along a street that, were the metal light post just outside the window not there, would be just as recognizeable to someone sitting in this very spot in, say, the 1890s, 1920s, or 1950s. Or maybe not, but one can easily imagine sitting in this parlor and listening to a Scott Joplin rag, or big-band music, or Elvis on the turntable. I sit here and the surroundings make my New England bones and blood feel at home, as if the ghosts of times past and I are united at this place and time in a quiet and timeless way.

Just as any other place, Newport has gone through its ups and downs, through Colonial times, through its rough-and-tumble Navy years, through the Gilded Age where its “cottages” served as a six-week playground for the rich seeking respite from oppressive Manhattan summers, to the nouveau riche playground it has become for lots of pretty people. And maybe that’s why I like it and why it attracts me so – it embraces its past but isn’t held back by it, it’s been up and down and keeps moving on, a testament to the passage of time and place. I come here and can recall past visits when I was younger, I remember places I’ve visited that are no more, I see in it the passage of time both here and in me.

Away from the quaint shops and noisy bars and restaurants along its waterfront, a walk along Newport’s quiet, narrow streets with big colonial houses surrounding you on both sides or a tour through Rosecliff mansion makes you feel smaller, a mere player in history, whether it be yours or others. Many of the houses are well-preserved and painted in gay multi-colors, some are in sore need of upkeep. Big houses that used to belong to large families full of life and the prospect of years together are now apartments above first-floor shops, or quaint inns, or condominiums; some have been neglected, or empty, or up for sale. You walk past them and can’t help seeing in their passage of time a part of your own. It’s not good or bad, or happy or sad, it’s just the way it is.

I sense it’s important for me to feel this way – sentimental about times that were never quite as good as I remember them being, hopeful about a future that could turn dark or uncertain by a doctor’s visit or a lab result, or my name appearing on a company’s layoff list, grateful for a life surrounded by loving parents and family, good friends, and the opportunity to travel to places that as a kid I could only imagine seeing. In that way, my life isn’t so much different from that of others – or perhaps it is – but I also know that in the grand scheme of things I’ve been beyond fortunate.

I know not when I will – or even if I will – return to Newport, but if I do have the privilege of visiting again I know things will be different for both of us. Perhaps in small ways, perhaps in ways not so small. But there’s comfort in knowing that, whichever way it is or might be, we have in common the fact that neither of us are immune to the passage of time and that we’re both just bit players in the larger drama of history that will continue to unfold around us.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:53 | Comments Off on Newport and Thinking The Big Things
No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Search The Site

Recent Items


September 2021
April 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006



4 Goodboys Only

Site Info