Category Archives: monuments

Stanley Park 2017 (Westfield, MA)

Dates Of Visits: May 31 & June 2, 2017

Location: 400 Western Ave, Westfield, MA


Official Season: Open to the public (7 days a week) from 7:00 am until dusk daily(1/2 hour before sunset) from the first Saturday in May to the last Sunday in November.

Off-Season: Gate 1, across from Westfield State University’s Woodward Center, is open year-round from 7:00 am until dusk daily, weather permitting. Upon entrance, please note gate closing times.

Cost: Free

Parking: During the “official season” from around early May until the end of November, there are two parking areas with ample parking (probably room for 300 or more cars) .  During the off season, the second parking lot is closed.

Size/Trail Difficulty: 300 acres, easy trails

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly:Yes

Highlights: sports fields, play area, pond, trails, flower garden, fountain, sculptures, covered bridge, birds, wildlife, ample parking

Website: Stanley Park

Map: Stanley Park Map


If you read the title of this blog post and thought thought to yourself, “Hey you’ve already posted about this place” you would be correct.  I visited Stanley Park in June, 2015 but I was told, incorrectly, by a park worker that I was not allowed to take photos there with paying a fee first.  So, I was only able to use a few photos from my original visit and I had tp use my camera phone for the remainder of the photos and they did not come out very good.  So, I decided to take another trip to the park last week.  If you do want to see my original post you can access it here:  Stanley Park in 2015.

Named after Frank Stanley Beveridge, Stanley Park, Stanley Park is one of the most popular parks in Western MA.  Throughout the year they hold various memorial services  for veterans, musical shows and even a road race among other events.  But, Stanley Park is also a great to play to visit to get away from people and just have a peaceful hike along the many trails there or to just sit and watch the various wildlife that inhabit the park.

Originally from Pembroke Shores, Nova Scotia, Frank Stanley Beveridge would go on to create the company Stanley Home Products after immigrating to the states and eventually settling in Westfield, MA.  Because of his love if nature and its inhabitants, he would establish Stanley Park of Westfield, Inc. on twenty-five acres of land in Westfield, Massachusetts.  Since then it has grown exponentially but it has still kept the same natural beauty.

The first thing that stood out to me while visiting Stanley Park are the colors, particularly during the spring summer and especially during the fall foliage season.  Whether it is the variety of birds at the park, the colorful flowers and green grass or the Koi fish in the pond, the colors were really popping at Stanley.

One of the things Stanley Park is most known for is its population of black squirrels.  Since they are not indigenous to the area, their origins have often been a matter of curious debate.  No, they weren’t dropped off by aliens nor did they travel to the park as part of a family vacation.

The black squirrels are actually from Michigan.  They were gifts from former Stanley Home Products sales managers, Hubert L. Worell and Alvah (Al) Elzerman.  They were brought there in 1948 and their population has steadily increased.  As you can see, they are very well fed.

There is a soccer/lacrosse field, basketball court and play area for children in the main parking area.  You can also access the Beveridge Nature Sanctuary Trail from the parking area.  The Sanctuary Trail is 229 acres of easy trails with some gentle inclines.

Stanley Park is home to a variety of blue jays, cardinals, ducks, geese and other birds s well as frogs and turtles.

One of the best places at Stanley Park is the area behind the pond at the entrance.  Chipmunks, squirrels, birds and other critters stop by in the hopes of some nuts or other treats from passing visitors.  In fact, when I walked over to the area chipmunks actually came out from hiding to greet me, in the hopes I might have some snacks for them.  They weren’t disappointed.

You can even hand feed them.


Stanley Park also has a garden area with roses, rhododendrons, azaleas and other flowers and pretty trees.

There is also a covered bridge at Stanley Park.  Even though it only allows foot traffic the Goodrich Bridge is still bridge and it is indeed covered.  It is one of the 13 wooden covered bridges in Massachusetts.  I never really considered it an actual covered bridge since it is not on a roadway or sidewalk.  But, it does meet the criteria.

An old blacksmith building is located near the bridge.

There is a mill by the pond and a couple of waterfalls.


There are also several memorials and monuments at Stanley Park.

This Veteran’s Memorial is dedicated to all of those in Westfield who have served.  Black plaques on the ground list the names of the people from Westfield who have died while serving.

This memorial, Our Lady Of Fatima, was dedicated in September 1952 to Otto Bono Calegari, a Westfield native who was killed during the Korean Conflict.  The memorial was handcrafted by Otto’s father, Rocco Calegari.

The Carillon Tower is located near the gardens.  Completed in 1950, the tower tower was dedicated to world peace.  From time to time, the bells of the Carillon are rung at the tower as part of their Carillon Tower ceremonies.  The bronze doors are decorated with 14 relief sculptures portraying various aspects of the Park and Stanley Home Products, as well as profiles of Frank Stanley Beveridge and Catherine L. O’Brien.

The map in front of the tower measures 23 feet by 30 feet, and is composed of multicolored New York slate.

The Angel of Independence was a gift from Stanley Home Products sales persons from Mexico on October 25, 1958. The monument is a Replica of the statue Placido de lareforma in Mexico City which stands for Liberty and Freedom. The base is Vermont Marble and stands 30 feet tall.

I couldn’t find much information about this statue except that it is referred to as the “Children With Umbrella” statue.  It is a fairly new addition as far as I can tell.

There are also dinosaur tracks at Stanley Park.  Tracks that are said to be over 100 million years old.  The tracks are actually from the Carlton Nash Quarry South Hadley (MA).

There are two fountains at Stanley.  They are both located in the garden area and near the entrance by Gate 2.

I saw someone riding this cute bicycle at Stanley and she was kind enough too let me photograph it.  I especially liked the bell she would ring from time to time as she rode it.


There is so much beauty at Stanley Park.  Just the way the trees bend and the views from the upper level where the garden is located to the duck ponds and the bridges that are scattered throughout the park are sights to behold.

Stanley Park is a great place to bring your dog, although he or she may want to chase or make friends with the ducks and geese there.

I met Duke, a 1 year old rescue, while I was walking along the Sanctuary Trail.  He was such a friendly guy!

.Biscuit, or Bubba, a 5 year old Bulldog and Mastiff was enjoying a walk along the boardwalk .  Her fur was so soft!

As the clouds came rolling in, it was evident it was time to leave.

This is video of the hail storm that followed shortly after we left.

To view videos like the one above and other content I do not share on this blog, please connect with me on Facebook.  I hope to see you there!


Agawam Fire Department’s September 11 Memorial (Agawam, MA)

Date Visited: September 9, 2016

Location: Agawam Fire Dept Headquarters, 800 Main St, Agawam, MA

Parking:  There is a parking area for 5 or 6 cars next to the memorial area and off street parking available nearby

Hours: Accessible everyday, 24 hours a day


Dedicated on the first anniversary of the attacks, the Agawam Fire Department’s 9/11 memorial is constructed of two granite blocks.  It is evident that much care and attention to detail was taken in the construction of the memorial.  The towers are spaced accurately with 1 World Trade Center to the left and in front of 2 World Trade Center.  Two benches (one on each side of the towers), more like slabs of concrete, are positioned at the memorial.  it is a place for reflection and peaceful relaxation.  Like all memorials at all of the other fire departments, it is both tasteful and emotional.

A plaque lies at the base of the memorial.


Engraved on the plaque is:








Being from the Boston area and having ties to New York, I know people who were affected on September 11 and I have a personal connection to this day as well.  It is bittersweet to see such beautiful remembrance for such a tragic day.

Normally, I would photograph a memorial closer to my hometown of Boston.  But, since my parents and sister moved to Western Mass it has been like a second home to me.  I’ve spent many holidays, birthdays, vacations and weekends here so it only seems fitting I would spend a special, yet somber, day here to be with my family.

A sign at the flower bed reminds us what is important to remember on this and all days.





Battery Park (Burlington, VT)

Date Visited: May 13, 2016

Location: 1 North Ave, Burlington, VT

Open: 365 days a year, 24 hours

Cost: Free

Parking:  Off street parking when it is available


Located along a busy stretch of roadway in Burlington, Vermont, Battery Park may be best known for its place in the history of American warfare.

Battery Park was named for the artillery stationed there by American forces during the War Of 1812.  On August 13, 1813, American gunners at that location, aided by the naval ship the USS President, successfully defended their position against an attack by a British squadron led by Lt Colonel John Murray.

Since then, the park, which was established in 1870, has taken on a more artistic and more peaceful ambiance.

Statues, memorials and other works of art are scattered along the sidewalk and grass off North Avenue.


This statue was made by the renown sculpture Peter Wolf Toth.  Toth specializes in sculptures of Native American people.  He has sculpted dozens of statues and has one statue in each of the 50 states in the U.S. as well as in other countries.  This statue above is a monument to Gray Lock’s War veteran chief Gray Lock.  The statue, carved of wood, was dedicated June 22, 1984.

At first glance, this tree may seem rather nondescript, just a tree in a sea of other trees.  But, this is no ordinary tree.  his tree was planted in memory of the September 11 terorist attacks.

Another monument at Battery Park is dedicated to Worker’s Memorial Day (April 28th) which has been designated by the AFL-CIO to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs.

There are also these unique structures which I still haven’t figured out.

Lake Champlain provides the perfect the backdrop to the park.



The monuments and statues do not end there.  In the background of the park you can see what have been described “winged monkeys” (from the Wizard Of Oz film).  To really get good photographs of these figures you have to be closer to Champlain College.  The figures are actually on top of some of the buildings in the area of the school’s campus.  But, you can see the distinct figures of some of the characters.  Specifically, it looks like the witch’s guards to me.  I didn’t have the time or energy at that point to (I started traveling and photographing at 7 and it was close to 6 on this day when I photographed Battery Park).  But, it’s also fun trying to see the hidden statues.


Rudyard Kipling is said to have noted that Battery Park has one of the two finest sunsets in the world.  As the photos demonstrate, I was unfortunately not able to photograph the sunset this particular evening due to the rain and clouds.

In addition to these statues and monuments, there is a statue dedicated to American Civil War General William W. Wells and other local luminaries.

There is also a playground area at the end of the park with swings and slides.

Dogs love Battery Park too.  Gus, a 2 and a half year old, Great Pyranese


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The Statues of Salem (Salem, MA)

Salem, MA and the people of Salem are known for more than just the well publicized witch hysteria.  While the city remembers this somber time with memorials, they also have other monuments, statues and other decorations, particularly during the Halloween season.

This is probably the most recognized statue in Salem.  It is the statue of Roger Conant, the founder of Salem.  Because of the dark, foreboding image of the statue and the fact that it is located directly in front of the Salem Witch Museum, it is often at first glance considered a monument in tribute to the victims of the witch hysteria.  That was my thoughts when I first saw it as a younger person.   As an fyi, it is very hard to take a photo of the statue without throngs of crowds nearby doing the same thing, often times ruining your photo.  I had to arrive very early Halloween day to get this photo without a lot of people or car traffic.  It is a very popular stop for tourists.



While we’re all familiar with people like Nathaniel Hawthorne, there are other people who were pivotal members of Salem that are less noted than Hawthorne like the reverend Theobald Mathew, an apostle of temperance, according to the script on the statue.  Even if you’re not familiar with people like Mathew, the artwork and of the statues is enough to impress anyone.


Speaking of Hawthorne, just farther down the road on, you guessed it, Hawthorne Boulevard is the Nathaniel Hawthorne statue.


One of the things you have to love about Salem is they don’t try to sweep the past under the rug and they try to educate others about tolerance.  This sign for the Witches Education League is an example of this.


There is also a memorial to the The Blue Star Memorial Program which is dedicated to all of the men and women who serve in the United States armed services.


Salem has another memorial dedicated to a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, John Phillip Riley.  Riley is one of 5 Medal of Honor recipients from Salem, dating back to the Civil War.

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This memorial is dedicated to the Boys of the Immaculate Conception who served during World War I.

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This monument, located in Salem Common, is a tribute to those who died during World War II


The Salem Fire Department has two memorials at their Ladder 2 station.

One memorial is a memorial to the victims of September 11.The metal in the middle of the monument is from the rubble at Ground Zero.  The two concrete beams in the background represent the North and South towers at the World Trade Center.


There are two ceramic angels in a cup placed on the memorial.  People leave pennies in honor of the victims.


The other memorial at the fire station is in honor of the firefighters from their station who have paid the ultimate price


Closer to the heart of the city, there is also a monument with a quote from Eli Wiesel.

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During the Halloween festivities, the original water pump was displayed in the main drag of the walk way on Essex Street.  This is the original pump the people of salem had to use before they had indoor plumbing and other amenities we take for granted.

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Some of the monuments, statues and signs are more lighthearted like the Bewitched statue in Lappin Park.  Little known fact: some of the Bewitched shows were filmed in Salem, MA.



This placard reminds us that even ghosts like bacon.


I also met some very cute dogs during my travels.

There was Massie




And Harley.  Harley didn’t like my camera.  But, he felt safe when he was with his dad.

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and this cute fella whose name I didn’t get.


As these monuments, statues, memorials, signs and dogs have shown, there is more to Salem than just the Halloween festivities.  My next blog will deal with the impressive architecture of the homes, museums and other buildings of the Salem area from my recent visits.

Haunted Happenings (Salem, MA)

Since it is Halloween is imminent and Salem is so well known for its Halloween attractions, I will be posting a series of blogs from the Salem, Massachusetts, area from my recent visits.  If I took a photo of you or your dog and I haven’t posted it yet, I promise I will post it very soon. Also, I want to thank everyone (4 legged and 2 legged) and their folks who agreed to have their or their children’s photos taken. If you’re reading this, I greatly appreciate it.

Today’s blog features some of the sites, people and dogs of historic Salem.

There is something about Salem, or really any busy town or city, in the early morning hours.  There’s a certain serenity in the early morning hours, especially when you contrast it with the throngs that will soon descend upon the town. While the city is still sleeping and the roar of vehicles seems a distant memory, street vendors prepare for a busy day and other early risers take to the empty streets.  In a scant few hours, these city streets will be jammed.

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There were some other early  risers on the streets of Salem as well.  I ran into Quincy while I was roaming the empty streets.


One of the things about Salem that attracts a lot of visitors, apart from the Halloween attractions, are the memorials and structures in the area.  This particular structure in the heart of downtown Salem is the East India Square Fountain.  In the warmer weather seasons, they often have water flowing in it.  Designed as an abstract map of Salem, the two levels represent the pre-Colonial and contemporary shorelines of Salem.

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A little farther down the road is the Revere Bell, a tribute to the citizens of Essex County which encompasses the most northeast section of Massachusetts, who have served in the armed services.

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There is also a pretty arch near the Revere Bell that with overgrown foliage.


There were lots of people dressed up for the season





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I also saw Chica


and Stanley during my visit


More photos from Salem and the Salem area to come…

Witch City (Salem, MA)

When people think of Salem (MA), they often conjure thoughts of the witch hysteria, ghosts or a litany of other things that may go bump in the night.  But, this isn’t fair nor accurate. No, Salem is more than “haunted houses” and stores that sell kitschy souvenirs. Nor is it only fun to visit during the Halloween season. Still, it did feel a little odd wandering around Salem without a Fall chill in the air or leaves crunching beneath my feet.  But, it wasn’t any less fun.

Salem, being an important port for trade in early colonial days, is rich with tradition and history.  One of the main ports of trade is at Pickering Wharf in Salem Harbor.



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Anchored in the wharf is The Friendship.  The Friendship is a reconstruction of a 1700’s trading ship.  Tours are available, except today as they were renovating the ship.



Stately, rustic buildings dot the coast line. The ornate building with the dome atop it is the Custom House.  It is sandwiched in between the Salem Maritime National Historic Site (to the left) and the Simon Forrester House.


There is also a lighthouse located at the end of the pier.


Ducks and other birds frequent the harbor.

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Pickering Wharf has a variety of restaurants where you can enjoy fish, lobster and, well, fish.  It is also a hub for tour groups (whose favorite past time seems to be getting into my photos) and the occasional dog walker.  I found this dog who is all black, except for her front left paw.  DSC_0467

I could spend all day at Pickering Wharf.  But, in the interest of time, I began my journey to some of the other attractions in Salem.  The best part of visiting Salem is noticing the attractions and sites while you’re walking to each destination.

There was this house that caught my eye.


There was this display outside the Salem Witch Museum.


Irzyk Park, named after Brigadier General Albin F. Irzyk, has this retired Army tank in the park.


Saint Nicholas Church stands out against some of the more drab buildings.DSC_0600

I also bumped into Aida


As well as Simba and Jasmin


Eventually, I found my way to Winter Island.


Winter Island is a hidden jewel within the outskirts of Salem.  A mile from the downtown Salem area, it is used as a RV/trailer park as well as a place to launch boats and hold functions.  I walked the mile to Winter Island from downtown Salem. It is pretty much a straight walk or drive from tge downtown area.  But, if you choose to drive. there is ample parking outside of Winter Island.  There are an array of flowers and a pond (more like a reservoir) with a power plant adjacent which gives a nice touch.  Geese and ducks are abundant there.

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There is also a beach and an area for bird watching on Winter Island (it’s not really an “island” (it is more like a peninsula) but I will let it slide.  It was the beach, Waikiki Beach, that was most impressive.  Rocks are scattered along the beach and make shift trails on the hills behind the beach offer private views of the beach.  Since it was low tide, I was able to walk along the rocks for better views of the harbor.  A lighthouse gives a nice touch and birds and flowers are abundant.


A closeup of one of the many flowers on Waikiki Beach.


The lighthouse (Winter Island Light,),not the photographer, is tilted.DSC_0704

A bee pollinating.


The rocks at Waikiki Beach give the beach a unique landscape and offer a chance to get better views.  It also attracts a variety of bird life.

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There is also an area for bird watching at Winter Island.  Although they are easily scared away, I did capture these images of a Robin and a Red Winged Black Bird.



There is also an old ammunition bunker in the bird watching area at Fort Pickering on Winter Island.


It’s a shame that Salem is only remembered for the more commercial aspects and urban legends.  It isn’t all about being scared in Salem.  In fact, this is the scariest thing I saw all day.


Of course, no visit to Salem would be complete without a photo of Roger Conant, the founder of Salem, and a visit to the World War II Memorial at Salem Commons.


You can keep yourself quite busy just visiting the parks, beaches and assortment of other attractions in Salem all year round, not just during Halloween.  But, of course, I’ll be back in October anyways.

Pompey (Portsmouth, NH)

“The Granite State”, “God’s Country”, “The Mother of Rivers” and “The Live Free State” are just a few of the nicknames associated with New Hampshire and for good reason.  The lazy, slow paced lifestyle mixed with postcard views, New Hampshire is the ideal place to visit.  The only question is which part to visit first.  For me, it was an easy answer.  Portsmouth (whose motto is “Heaven’s Light Our Guide”).  Hands down.

One of my favorite areas to visit, Portsmouth, New Hampshire has always incorporated just the right amount of quaint, sleepy town with a modern, new city feel.  Yet recently, it has felt like perhaps it is incorporating too much modern feel.  Previously unscathed land is littered with cranes, earth moving tools and other construction equipment, even to the point of marring otherwise perfect landscapes. This is not your parent’s Portsmouth.  That being said, Portsmouth still has a plethora of attractions and sites to keep you busy all weekend.

While it is not exactly clear how Portsmouth got the nickname “Pompey”,  some of the leading theories include that it is the nickname of the football club in Portsmouth and a variety of theories based on legend and tales.

The scenic drive, mainly on Routes 1, 93 and 95, was a breeze coming from Boston.  Just watch out for the Exit 3 to Portsmouth.  It comes up pretty quick after the fork in the road on 95 . And, of course, there are the not so inconspicuous state troopers lying in wait.  The driving only gets tricky when you get to Portsmouth.  It’s an old town so there are lots of one way streets, narrow roads and the parking can be sparse if you don’t get there early.  The good thing is everything is within walking distance and, if you luck out, there is free parking at the parks.  Parking enforcement workers were prevalent throughout.

I began my trek at Prescott Park, the main hub for entertainment as it is the venue for the summer arts and festivals for the area.  Prescott Park offers benches, well kept grass, flowers, monuments and scenic views of the Piscataqua River.  When you first approach Prescott park, you will be greeted by a monument, a common theme in Portsmouth.  An over sized anchor dedicated to Billy Juse who, with Tim Nordeen, died working on the Deer Island Sewage plant stands near the center of the park.  This is one of the appealing things about Portsmouth.  The town has strong ties to their past and they remember those they have lost.  They don’t forget.


Prescott Park also has a vivid array of flowers.  Petunias, “Black Eyed Susans”, Saxifraga and “Goldliocks” are just a few of the flowers you will find here.

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DSC_0366Prescott Park also has a water fountain dedicated to Ensign Charles Hovey.  Envoy was a Naval Academy graduate who was commanding a detachment of men when his men and he was ambushed, leaving Hovey mortally wounded.  I’ve always wondered why some receive honors and others dies in anonymity,  Not to question Hovey’s and his men’s bravery, yet so many, even from the Portsmouth area, have lived, fought and died courageously with little, if any, appreciation.


It being a seasonable New Hampshire day, with low humidity with a cool breeze, I decided to continue on my walk all the way to the center of town, aptly named Portsmouth Center.  Portsmouth Center is only about a half a mile walk from Prescott park.  But, along the way, there were many attractions and sites to detour you.  There was the City of Portsmouth Fire Department’s memorial, Vigilance.   The two sided monument is dedicated to all of the firefighters who risk their lives protecting others.


As impressive as the monument is, some visitors were more interested in the water flowing in the monument.  Well, it was a warm day and Lulu and Seka couldn’t resist the watery goodness.



Further along my jaunt, the Praying Hands sculpture at Temple Israel caught my eye.


The “crown jewel of Portsmouth”, Pierce Island is another must see section of Portsmouth.  Who wouldn’t want to live on that island?  The photo below is only one of the gems of the area.

DSC_0478Pierce Island is also host to Four Tree Island (or Three Tree Island, Five Tree Island – maybe they had a hard time counting all the trees).  A peninsula shaped picnic area, Four Tree Island has a wide variety of bird life and other types of critters.  I was lucky enough to run into this guy.  Woodchucks like this are common to the area and generally aren’t very dangerous.  And, no, I don’t know how much wood he would chuck.

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There is also a diverse group of bird life on Four Tree Island.  I caught this bird in flight.

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There were also a few ducks floating out there as well.


A remnant of the past, a fishing trap lies on some rocks.


Two comorants huddle on a rock.


Portsmouth is a dog-friendly town.  Everywhere you go you are sure to see someone walking their pooch and seemingly ever other vehicle has a canine passenger, their head excitedly thrust out the open window.  There are also many parks, some hotels (provided they meet certain height and weight limits) and parks that allow dogs such as, South Mill Pond.  Not only are there pretty flowers and scenic views (it must be especially pretty during sunrises and sunsets), there are also ducks for Fido to play with.



One thing Portsmouth does not lack is memorials and monuments. One of these memorials is called, fittingly enough,Memorial Park.  Memorial Park is a fairly new addition to the monuments in Portsmouth, having been constructed in 2013.  A tribute to all of the veterans who have served, the Memorial Park  The bricks on the ground surrounding the memorial have the names of veterans and others who have passed away.  “Honor”, “protect” and “remember” are emblazoned on the stones in the  from the original Memorial Bridge which are stacked in the middle of the memorial.  Flags were at half staff in tribute to the victims of the Texas floods.


Another memorial is the New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial on Pierce Island that remembers all of the men and women who have been lost fishing the waters of New Hampshire.  The monument, which was dedicated in 1987, states “In Memory Of Those Who Fished And Were Called Away.  With Prayers For Those Who Fish Today.”   It’s hard not to think, even briefly, of how much the area has changed.  A once vibrant fishing community has now evolved into a modern economy.  Like many seaport towns in New England, the fishing industry has dries up for many people and the modern era of commerce has prevailed.  Although you will see the occasional palm reading den and mom and pop shop, office buildings, financial institutions, bars and construction companies now chiefly make up the economy.

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And, in Portsmouth Center, you will find another fountain.  This one is dedicated to former Portsmouth Mayor McEachern Keenan,


New Hampshire, the Portsmouth area particularly, being a historically important area, has many historical houses and museums that are open to the public.  In the interest of time I was unable to view them, except from the exterior.  Posted below is the Governor John Langdon’s House.  Langdon was, among other things, the second Governor of New Hampshire.


I’m not sure the frog is an original part of the Langdon’s estate.

DSC_0446The Treadwell Jenness House is another beautiful mansion I put on my “things to next time I am in Portsmouth list”, which may be sooner rather than later.


There are many other attractions I didn’t have the time for such as The Portsmouth naval Shipyard Museum  The Isles Of Shoals Tours and The Strawberry Banke Museum.

Despite the congestion and having too much to do to fit into one day trip, the hardest decision I had to make for this trip was to leave.