For my final experience of Major Fun on this trip, I visited the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library in the Christian Science Publishing Society building, which is part of the sprawling Christian Science Center not far from Fenway Park.
The Publishing Society building is a great example of the economic clout of publishing in the 1930s, with grand marble-floored entryways and globe lamps that function as a clock and a calendar.
The actual publishing is done elsewhere now, and the first floor of the building is given over to a presentation of the life of Mary Baker Eddy, with interactive video displays and films and inspirational quotes.
The Mapparium itself is a giant stained-glass globe, with countries and borders as of 1935. The globe is inverted, so the layout appears normal from the inside. The globe was restored and enhanced in 2002, but they kept the original 1935 layout, which is good, because how else could you see Chosen, French Indochina, and Königsberg?
There’s dramatic audio about how seeing the world unifies us or something, but it doesn’t really add anything. The globe is really very impressive on its own. Unfortunately photos weren’t allowed, due to “copyright issues,” which I’m starting to suspect is just an excuse.
I tried to take a photo on the sly, but it didn’t turn out well. You can see better photos here.
Mark Twain wrote quite a bit about Christian Science, although I didn’t see any of his writings in the Library. They must be in one of the rooms I missed.
I arrived in Boston to find out that my Airbnb room wasn’t ready. Workmen were glazing the bathtub (or something like that) and it wouldn’t be done until the next morning, but they had another room for me that night in the same building. The room was considerably smaller but no big deal for one night.
The next morning the workmen still weren’t done. After a lot of messaging back and forth, they finally left the keys for me at the pizza parlor in the same building. I dropped off the other keys in the Keycafe about a half mile away.
The new room—the one I originally rented—was perfectly positioned to be the noisiest room in the building. The pizza parlor seems to be a gathering place, and when it closes at 2:00 AM, people stand on the sidewalk in front of it for another hour or so talking as loudly as possible. The same for the two adjacent bars. Also, everyone in Boston honks their horns at all times to indicate displeasure with what everyone else is doing, or possibly just for the sheer love of honking.
The room was in a good central location, though, about a block from Boston Common. It’s a beautiful park, dating to 1634, and the only park I’ve ever seen with a cemetery in it.
The adjacent Boston Public Garden dates to 1837 and is even beautifuler.
I also followed the Freedom Trail, which starts at Boston Common. It’s a relatively short path that contains significant sites of the colonial and revolutionary periods, including the Old State House, Old South Meeting House, and Granary Burying Ground (where Sam Adams and Paul Revere are buried). Colonial and revolutionary sites are most of what I wanted to see in Boston, so it was thoughtful of Boston to locate them near my Airbnb.
And Roadside America sights there were a-plenty, including a teapot from 1873, a plaque commemorating the creation of the gerrymander, an ether monument, and an Irish famine statue.
Salem was a whole lot cheesier than I expected. Lots of tarot reading and chakra balancing and stores with names like Coven’s Cottage. Even the panhandlers know how to market themselves.
The more historical spots were still attractions, and more focused on presentation. I almost went to the Salem Witch Museum, but you have to buy tickets in advance, so I wouldn’t have been able to get in right away.
But at least I got to see the Bewitched statue.