Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Friday, August 2, 2013

On Common Ground

This week, I took the boys and their friend Nick, to Atkinson's Common in Newburyport.

One of the things I love most about living in New England, is that I can load the kids in my vehicle, and within a few short minutes, we can visit a park that was once enjoyed by folks from hundreds of years ago. Reminders of these long ago residents are embedded in our environment

Atkinson's Common, Newburyport, MA

Weston and his friend Nick devising a plan

Nicholas with his trusty backpack

Statue of Civil War Soldier named "The Volunteer"
A better view
This Civil War Monument bears the names of all 1500 men who served during the war.
At the time, this was about 10 percent of the town's population
Later the town built this statue to honor soldiers who had served in all wars
Also on the monument,
The Gettysburg Address
The beautiful grounds of Atkinson's Common,
Pretty to behold even on a cloudy day
Toward the back of the park was a basketball court
And playground
Nicholas loved this boat
He told me he was sailing the Seven Seas
(I asked where he heard about the Seven Seas....he told me he learned it watching Dora..of course!)

While Nicholas was sailing, the boys were sweating
Our last exploration of the park took us here
This is the observation tower, quite a hit with the boys
Apparently, this is the last structure within the park in desperate need of repair
The boys were a litle creeped out by the cluttered state inside the tower 
In 1917, a local philanthropist named William Swasey donated funds for a wooden observation tower to be built inside the park
After many winters, the structure fell into disrepair
So in 1935, Mr Fred Kneeland, local administrator of the ERA made plans to replace the wooden tower to brick. The ERA was changed by Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Works Project Administration (WPA) and the brick tower was completed by local men of the town in 1936.
The tower has become a bit of a delicate subject to the city, with tax funds being utilized for more important things, like schools and services. The Belleville Improvement Society, caretakers of the park, are seeking a generous benefactor to help refurbish and make-safe this historical structure.
We finished up our day admiring the many beautiful park plantings
And scenery
And finished the day with a trip to the local pizzeria
Don't know if Nicholas was happier about the pizza or the park

For information about the city of Newburyport, here is a brief description...

Much like the city of Gloucester (remember how to pronounce it?), Newburyport is another New England coastal community. It is located at the mouth of the Merrimack River. This river empties into the Atlantic Ocean making Newburyport a perfect location for ship building, ship launching and import/export trade.

Fishing, whaling and the design and manufacture of clipper ships were the first predominate industries in this seaside community. Clipper ships, also known as the greyhounds of the sea, were swift sailing vessels of the 19th century. They are easily identified by their three or more masts and abundance of square sails.

Newburyport, also known as Clipper City, was the birthplace of the first clipper ship designed by Donald McKay.

Mary L. Cushing 1883
Last clipper ship to be built on the Merrimack River
Image Library of Congress

Newburyport is also the birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Today, Newburyport is known for its brick buildings and sidewalks, a city reminiscent of old New England.
lots of shops and restaurants
And of course, steeples.
The many church steeples towering over the city of Newburyport, emphasize the importance that religion played in the lives of the early settlers of Colonial New England
Old South Church
Rev George Whitefield was an English clergyman who found his home here in the Old South Church. He was a traveling preacher who toured the colonies from 1730 to 1760 delivering powerful sermons that left his audiences spellbound. He was one of the most recognized and famous colonists of his time. According to his wishes, he was buried in a crypt under the pulpit of this church.
BTW...the bell in his church steeple was cast by none other than Paul Revere and still rings today.
(photo by John Sonia 2008)
What do I like best about Newburyport?
It's located right next to our favorite beach.......Plum Island.