Yet again I found myself on the road in the month of October, as Dad and I set forth for Boston to attend his thirtieth Harvard Law School reunion. I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to this trip. Busy as I have been this month, with travel and house guests, I was sort of craving some down-time, but my daughterly duties beckoned.
Our first order of business in Boston was to find some lunch, but we managed to start off the trip on a bad foot when we discovered that the restaurant I had selected based on the recommendations of several Bostonian foodie publications was located in the same hotel where Barack Obama was in town and holding a fundraiser. The traffic trying to get there was a nightmare, and we couldn't even get within several blocks of the restaurant, a state of affairs that we were only able to ascertain once we had exited our taxi and gotten stranded in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. We ended up having to walk back to our hotel, and failed to locate an acceptable dining alternative along the entire mile-long walk.
Instead, we had to head over to Cambridge to register for the reunion, and catch the 4:00 tour of the Harvard campus. The cab ride over wasn't as long as we had anticipated, so we used some of our extra time to go see Dad's old dormitory, Ames Hall, where he lived all three years of his time at Harvard. Our luck changed somewhat when we found a girl exiting the building who was willing to let us in to see Dad's old floor, where we were able to locate his old room (and, coincidentally, the handsome young first-year student living there now, and his crew of above-average-looking friends.)
Ames Hall, and Dad in front of his old stomping grounds.
I'm not sure that the tour of the campus had the effect that Dad was hoping for: namely, that I would be struck with the beauty of Harvard and want to apply for graduate school there. Instead, I was mostly surprised to discover that Legally Blonde was not actually filmed at Harvard, such that the actual campus did not match the image I had built of it in my mind's eye. And while the colonial-style architecture was perfectly pleasant, and the copious trees were erupting into a vivid display of fall foliage, I couldn't help but think that the uniform, "collegiate gothic" buildings at Wash U were more to my liking.
Dad and I with the statue of John Harvard, which the tour guide says is the third most-photographed statue in the United States, despite the fact that Mr. Harvard was not the actual founder of the university (just its first major benefactor) and the man depicted in it isn't even John Harvard, of whom no portraits were ever made.
Our last stop for the evening was an alumni cocktail reception and buffet dinner, where we managed to find and socialize with one down-to-earth couple from Minnesota in spite of the oppressive cloud of smug that was hanging over the room. Particularly egregious was one female lawyer we spoke with who specializes in defending white collar criminals. Logically speaking, I know everyone deserves the right to a fair trial, but it is pretty difficult for me to muster any sympathy for people who defraud innocent people of their savings, or defraud investors in their companies, or cheat taxpayers out of money by manipulating the government. There are many lawyers out there fighting the good fight, assisting the disadvantaged and providing pro bono services to non-profits and so forth, but it is people like that woman who contribute to society's negative stereotypes concerning the legal profession.
By the time we left the dinner, it was already raining, the poor weather seemingly having followed us from Chicago. With a day full of showers in the forecast for Saturday, I could scarcely shake my sense of foreboding concerning the remainder of my time in Beantown.