June 6, 1929:
I have worked quite hard today for I put in three large displays, one of those took me over three hours, the others a little over two, besides making a few calls on several customers.
On a partially foggy mid-September morning, I set off to officially end my 1929 Journey. Finally, the mystery of the Hotel Plaza was solved and I was looking forward to seeing where this hotel was located. The beauty of Sunday morning trips is that when you leave bright and early, there is really no real traffic (and in some cases, other cars at all) to deal with and it is just peaceful. This Sunday morning was no exception to the other Sunday rides.
I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts near my house. While I had seen the mural on the other side of the building next to it, I had not seen this particular side up close. I thought it was a good omen to have someone who had played for the Red Sox when my Grandfather was a boy, and another character who is my all time favorite see me off at 6:33 a.m.
The route I would be taking was very similar to a good part of the route I took home from Westport in August, so it was nice that it was somewhat familiar for about 2/3 of the ride. The first part was even more familiar – Route 27 in Maynard, Sudbury and Wayland. Over Maynard Crossing, the big Harvest Moon sat high in the sky, bidding adieu to the night and hello to the day. On what I call the “Wayland Flats”, the sun was brilliantly golden, rising over the Sudbury River and plumes of fog. After traveling Route 27 through Natick and into Sherborn, I then turned right onto Route 115. Once I entered Millis, there was pretty farmland and horse farms that sat on parallel sides of the road. Norfolk is another pretty little town that I passed through before picking up Route 140 in Foxborough. After passing through Foxborough Center, the road becomes two lanes and a 55 mile per hour road, that passes many shopping areas. This road passes by Great Woods in Mansfield before entering Norton. The Norton Reservoir is a beautiful body of water, and Wheaton College sits right at the intersection of Route 140 and Route 123. While Route 140 continues into New Bedford, my GPS had another route in mind. I passed through a multitude of corn fields and residential areas in Taunton, before heading onto Route 138 South. I took this route from Fall River, but I was only on the route for about a mile before turning left, passing Bristol County Aggie on both sides of the road, and passing over the wide Taunton River on a beautiful bridge. I went through Berkley and then entered a small pretty mill village in Assonet. An almost ten mile segment of road brought me by Freetown State Forest, where many cars carrying mountain bikes were entering.
June 3, 1929: Tena Dear: Well here I am in New Bedford instead of Fall River, for Mr. Hall decided to clean up from the south and work towards Boston, and what he says goes.
Soon, there was a New Bedford sign, which surprised me. I went to college in this area for two years and I was not aware that there was such a rural section of this once Whaling City. Within a mile, things started to look a little more urban and within a few miles, I was on Purchase Street, looking for #965.
Passing an old brick factory type building at 1213. I went a tad further and saw the New Bedford Fire Station at 868. Pulling into an office building on the right, I walked back up towards 1213. I saw an 1155 and decided that I needed to be somewhere between that building and where I was parked. There was a beach umbrella with a lot of discarded clothing and trash and then the perfect spot (and perhaps the spot) appears – a retaining wall of cobblestones, with a few weeds spouting out. The multi-colored cobblestones curved upwards, giving the spot a neat appearance. So, I sat my Grandparents down and then took a seat to survey the view. The weather was gorgeous, about 70 degrees, sunny, with a crystal clear deep sky, very different from what my Grandfather described on June 4th, 1929:
The weather here has been sort of raw and chilly, how is it there in Boston, the same, I presume. I hope that we get some hot weather over the week end so that we could go in for a swim.
Across the street was a credit union and beyond that, it appeared to look rather industrial. It wasn’t the prettiest of spots, but because I had worked really hard finding this spot, it was special. I am sure passerbys were curious to why there was a woman sitting in the middle of the cobblestones, but I didn’t care. The Hotel Plaza was found.
Keeping in tradition of my other trips, I next set out to find a funky coffee shop. While researching this part of the trip, I originally found a more cafe type of place with traditional Portuguese breakfasts and thought maybe I should try something different. But then when I added coffee shops, the Green Bean popped up. Since this looked more like my other stops, I decided to forgo the more breakfast place and check out the Green Bean, which was located further down on Purchase Street. This area of town was older – there were many restored brick buildings and gas street lamps, which gave it a neat flavor.
The Green Bean was just opening when I arrived at 9 a.m. and I was glad to be first in line. To celebrate the last funky coffee shop stop, I “splurged” (not money wise but diet wise) and bought a Vegan Cinnamon donut and an iced tea. The shop was bright and cheery, with two sides of windows, white lights, green walls, tables and couches. The donut was a tasty treat, and the ice tea was also tasty.
I wanted to find the State Theater that my Grandfather mentioned in one of his letters.
June 5, 1929: “Well dear, tonight is the first night that I will be able to go out and Frank and I are going to see “The Man I Love” which is playing at the State in this town. ”
The theater is also located on Purchase Street and it was literally about a one block walk from the Green Bean. While getting there, I noticed that UMass Dartmouth has its school of Visual Arts in an old department store. It looked like a cool place. This area was pretty quiet, but I am sure during a school day, it is bustling with students as Bristol Community College and the New Bedford Global Charter School were also located right near this building as well. And there it was, the now Zeiterion Theater. This theater was originally called the Zeiterion Theater and it was opened in April, 1923. It didn’t do well and closed briefly in September 1923 before re-opening later that month as The State Theater. Originally, this theater showed silent movies. In the 1971, the theater was modernized and in 19 is now known as the Zeiterion.
This building looks wonderful and I imagine that it is a great place to see a show.
I loved the brick buildings and the brilliant blue sky that was shining down on me during my hour on the ground in New Bedford. New Bedford is an interesting case study in that its population has also decreased from 1937 to now. Originally, it was one of the chief whaling cities, until kerosene was invented. Then, it was a major textile center until the mills moved south in the early 1920s, well before the start of the Great Depression. I couldn’t help but wonder if the creation of Route 195 caused people to bypass this city as well. By 2023, there are plans to link New Bedford to Boston on the commuter rail line, so perhaps that will pump up its population.
I wish I could had stayed longer as I would loved to walk around more and see the water. But I was aware that I needed to be home to feed my boy at noon, so at 9:40 a.m., Sage and I departed New Bedford, using the same route as we used to come down to this historic city. On my ride home, I reflected on how awesome this morning’s journey had been. Even though it wasn’t the spectacular ocean ending, I loved my time in New Bedford. I can now say that I was finished with all the 1929 hotels.
Reflections of a Marvelous Morning