Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I was walking down William Street not long ago. If visitors stop me "uptown" for directions, I often suggest William as a good way to get "downtown" rather than walking down Memorial. There's just something about walking down the hill — down that or any number of side streets, as opposed to main streets — and seeing a sloping panorama lined with so many tidbits from the past: old houses in assorted colors, big chimneys dwarfing small structures, minor exhibits of perennial patriotism. Perennial gardens, too.

Then, of course, there are air-conditioners, modern street signs, parked cars. (Nothing's perfect.) And those old, chipping murals on the backside of the long-gone East Side Marketplace portraying things that no longer exist — but I consider those a history lesson. The Stone Villa?? That stood where the shopping center now stands. Bath Road?? That was Memorial. Why did they change the name, I wonder. Bath Road sounds much more interesting (to me). It even had an electric railway; how charming. And green (!!). Far preferable to present-day realities of traffic jams and jammed parking lots ...

And don't forget Newport Chocolates. That's a present-day reality making a walk down William Street worthwhile all by itself. (I'm partial to dark-chocolate covered blueberries and cranberries.)

Anyway, as I was walking down William Street — the last mural being of a somewhat puzzling enterprise on a utilitarian back corner (it is the backside of the shopping center) — I looked up (or maybe down, or maybe out, from my spot atop the hill) and saw a cruise ship. It's an obvious statement, to the point of absurdity, but cruise ships are big.


They tower behind Goat Island in such an otherworldly way. And they bring so many visitors from out-of-town asking directions from uptown to downtown and vice versa.

Only later, when I was driving home from somewhere (I can't recall where) through the Point, did I realize there were in fact two cruise ships. They sat silently, at anchor, looming over the Washington Street Pier, assorted fisherpeople, scads of sailboats, the Goat Island lighthouse, the whole scene ...

Skies were gray that day. Not unlike today. But, toward the end, things cleared up. And, when I found myself downtown, down the hill, for the third time that day (it happens), there was even a nice sunset. I failed to capture it clearly — when I tried to focus, it became fuzzy — but that's okay (with me). The impression is/was sufficient. There's so much to see, and it's so hard to make sense of it. Why must everything be clear??

I never knew this, but the derivation of "bonanza" (from Spanish, with Latin and Greek influences) is "calm sea" ...