Thursday, July 15, 2010


It's one of my regular walks: downhill through downtown to The Point. And it's one of the games I regularly play with myself: what's the oldest thing I can find?? In the process of looking, I invariably find things that make me think — about age, of course (although certain things, even certain people, are of indeterminate age). But more about legacy; it's interesting to see what people choose to announce or preserve. As highlights. Literal labels. Or what their descendants (the kids?? subsequent property owners??) choose to say about them when doing so as succinctly as possible, after the fact.

Age alone??

I'm talking about all those plaques affixed to Colonial structures. It's downright addicting (to me, anyway) to walk around reading them, relating this time to that time, trying to piece things together — such as the location of the coffee shop (very important, speaking of addictions). Or the fact that Caleb was a popular name in the mid 1700s. It's a nice name (isn't it??); maybe it'll stage a comeback. And it's just a short leap from there to other sorts of legacies ...

I'm partial to things like the initials — just three letters! — of a long-gone mason carved into the bluestone of a crosswalk. Why can't we preserve more of these crosswalks, despite their bumpy natures?? They've stood up far better and far longer than any pavement or paint job I've ever seen.

And the big black "C" (for Coddington) I'd never noticed before, on a gate I'd never noticed before, marking the entrance to a small stone-walled cemetery on Farewell Street I'd never noticed before, despite the fact that it houses so many Newporters whose names appear throughout town and local history.

I'm partial even to things like the three-word comment scribbled on an electric pole beneath a flag for the Secret Garden Tour, which took place last weekend, and which (regrettably) I missed, as it's impossible to do it all, to take it all in.

I realize I'm rambling. That's what happens whenever I get started about The Point. I just keep walking and walking and talking and talking — to myself at times, to the point that it can get downright alarming. Really, that's the thing: as wonderful as it all is (all this old stuff, leading inevitably to thoughts about one's own age and potential labels and legacy), it's downright alarming ...