2020 Life Logs, Day 315: Visiting the Mayflower II and Plimoth Patuxet
Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Weather: Overcast, Misty Rain Late; High 63, Low 47 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, Falmouth, MA
On a normal Veteran’s Day, I would have spent my morning downtown at the Veteran’s Day observance. But, as we all know, nothing is normal these days. Instead, I spent my time mowing the tons of oak leaves in my yard. Then Upper Cape Septic came to put the new lid on my septic tank, so I had to stop mowing. It was just as well, as it was almost time to go pick up Ollie. I had told him that I would pick him up at 12:30 to take him to Plymouth to see the Mayflower II. Sam and Jonah had an afternoon Scout project, so it was just me and Ollie.
We arrived in Plymouth and started our ‘tour’. We walked by a statue of William Bradford that stated that he was the Governor of Plymouth Colony. Ollie agreed, but said he was not the first. He told me that would have been John Carver. Why was there not a statue of John Carver? I was getting a history lesson from my eight-year old grandson. Next, we stopped to view the Plymouth Rock which is not nearly as big as one would expect. Then it was on to tour the Mayflower II. It left Plymouth in November of 2016 for a total restoration and just returned in September. Ollie had only seen a glimpse of it as it left the Cape Cod Canal and headed out to sea. So, he was anxious to get a closer look. We had agreed to just look at it from afar if there were too many people, but there was no line and only four families aboard, so we went for it. When I was buying the tickets to tour it, the gentleman asked me if I wanted to buy the combined ticket to also tour Plimoth Patuxet, formally known as the Plimoth Plantation. Ollie said he would really like to do that, so I say okay. We didn’t spend long on the Mayflower, but long enough for Ollie to explore all of the decks and get a first-hand look at the rigging. We stood on the main deck and looked back into the forecastle or fo’c’sle that housed the crewmen. Then we headed down to the tween deck where the 102 passengers lived with their farm animals during their 66-day trip across the Atlantic. Ollie just couldn’t imagine how that many people existed in that small space for two months. But then he turned his attention back to the ship’s details. The main mast, the capstan, the ship’s helm, and again the rigging. He was fascinated by the rigging and kept asking me to take more photos of it. But once we had seen it all, he didn’t want to hang around. He was very aware of being in an area with other people during Covid and didn’t want to be there for long. So, we traveled on to Plimoth Patuxet. This is the new name for what has been called Plimoth Plantation in the past. The Plimoth part is the 17th century English village built by the Pilgrims. The Patuxet part is the Wampanoag Native American Homesite, close to the Pilgrim village. And if you are like me, you are wondering why I keep switching from Plimoth to Plymouth. Plimoth is the Old English spelling that eventually became Plymouth. Some things are labeled ‘Plimoth’ and others are labeled ‘Plymouth’.
On this day 400 years ago, November 11, 1620, the Mayflower set anchor off Provincetown. It wasn’t until December that they finally anchored the Mayflower in Plimoth Harbor. There were 102 people aboard the Mayflower, but only half of them made it through that first winter. But more people came and they persisted in establishing a lasting village in Plimoth. The Pilgrims had an interesting relationship with the local Native Americans, not always respecting the fact that they were settling on land that did not belong to them. But without the help of the Wampanoags, it is doubtful that they would have survived. When Ollie and I arrived at Plimoth Patuxet, he wanted to head to the Wampanoag Homesite first. He got to see wetus (homes) covered and uncovered, and a number of different mishoons or dug out canoes. Ollie also noted the way they grew their corn in hills of dirt.
From the Wampanoag Homesite, we walked to the 17th century English village built by the Pilgrims. Crude clapboard homes with thatched roofs, packed clay floors, clay and wood fireplaces, and furniture they brought from England. You walk through the fort and then down into the village on a wide path. There was a movie being shot today and that involved Pilgrims firing muskets. Interesting to watch. I told Ollie that I knew he was distantly related to a couple of the Plimoth Pilgrims on his Grandma Marti’s side of the family, but unfortunately, I didn’t know which ones. But he enjoyed meeting the guides dressed in period costume and wondering which ones might be relatives. We met Governor William Bradford and later we found out that he is one of the relatives through one of his daughters. Ollie enjoyed watching a woodworker making legs for stools, and he really enjoyed the sheep and the one cow. Ollie wants to return sometime with his mom and dad, but he was so excited that he got to see what he has been studying and writing about for the past month. And since I had never been aboard the Mayflower and had never visited the Wampanoag homesite nor the Pilgrim village, I was delighted with the afternoon. As we walked out of the village, Ollie was ahead of me and I really wanted to know what he was thinking as he walked up the path. But I didn’t dare interrupt his quiet time. He likes to process things and then talk about them later, so by the time he got home, he was talking non-stop to Heather about everything he saw. I learned a lot today and I’m certain he did as well. Great day.