A New England Odyssey

Tuesday, August 22, 1995

     Since I hadn’t gotten a nap the day before like George and Pam did, I managed to get up last. While I was getting ready, they went downstairs to eat waffles and sausage. When I finally was ready, I went downstairs to have some cereal and then walked over to the John Hay Library to briefly meet up with Dave, S.T., and the guys. They were ready soon after I arrived, so I followed them outside and bid everyone adieu as they left on their trip back to New York.
     On my walk back to the B&B I took some videotape of a few points of interest, including the Fleur-de-Lys building on Thomas Street, the building where Lovecraft’s funeral service was held, and the Shunned House, directly across the street from us. Going back up to the room I found that George and Pam had done little besides lounge on the beds. The beds at The Old Court are especially comfortable and you simply don’t want to get out of them. Determined to find out the make of the mattress, I lifted ours up and found that it was a Spring Air Osteopedic-Backguard III. I’ll have to get me one of those when I get home!
     While Pam and George sacked out, I decided to get caught up on these updates, so I spent over 2 hours typing away. When they finally got up, we thought we’d go back to the Arcade, where they went yesterday, so I could examine the back issues of Games Magazine that they’d seen. Once we got in the area of the Arcade, we drove around the block until we managed to find a parking space – and it was directly in front of the Arcade. They had been right about the Arcade; it was a dying mall. The lower level was filled with food shops that had plenty of patrons from surrounding businesses, while the upper two levels had only a few shops here and there.
     The Arcade itself is a beautiful structure, with Doric columns, wrought iron railings, and a skylight that runs the entire length of the building. The Game Keeper was on the third floor, and a quick look through their back issues revealed nothing I didn’t already have. With that done, we took a trip down to Wickenden Street and Rocket Dog Studio, Inc., a store which has “Gothic Designs for the Home & Garden.” We went there because S.T. had been wearing a black T-shirt which had printed on it a facsimile of Lovecraft’s tombstone, which he bought at Rocket Dog. Unfortunately, they were closed for remodeling, but the woman there gave us some business cards so we could write later for a catalog. Besides the T-shirt they also have tombstone replicas, statues, and gargoyles. I told her they better be open for the convention in Providence in ’97.
     With nothing else in mind, we drove around College Hill for a bit going to various Lovecraftian sites. Among them, the Halsey Mansion which served as the home for Charles Dexter Ward; the “little white farmhouse” mentioned in the same tale; and Lovecraft’s last home, moved in 1959 from 66 College Street to 65 Prospect Street. By now, we had all grown hungry and I suggested an Egyptian restaurant that I’d seen on Thayer Street the night before. The name of the place was King Tut, and I was pretty happy with my meal, although George and Pam found theirs rather average. They had the Shish Kebab Pocket and Cous Cous with Chicken, respectively, while I had the Tut Special: a Shish Kebab (beef), a Shish Tawook (chicken), and a Kofta Kebab (“minced beef meat, mixed with finely chopped parsely [sic] and imported spices”). The latter was my favorite, although all three were pretty good.
     Since the restaurant was on Thayer Street we decided to hit a few stores up and down the street. There are an inordinately high number of record stores on the street, and we visited at least 4 of them. Also on Thayer is the Brown University Book Store, in which I found (and bought) the Skoob editions of both The Necronomicon and The R’lyeh Text. Then, we went to Au Bon Pain, and found that, like yesterday, they still had no shortbread cookies. Not satisfied with just the one bookstore, we decided to drive north on Main to a bookstore we’d visited two years ago. When we found it, it had been closed for half-an-hour.
     Without any real destination in mind, we drove around Providence. We headed out to the northwest, doubled-back, turned onto Atwells, and stumbled across Mexico, a restaurant suggested to me by several people on alt.rhode_island. George and I dashed in for a moment to get a menu, and verified that it was much like the Mexican food restaurants back in Phoenix. We’ll definitely return tomorrow. We continued back on Atwells towards downtown, coming to Sutton Street, where St. John’s Roman Catholic Church once stood. The church was Lovecraft’s inspiration for the Starry Wisdom Church in “The Haunter of the Dark,” and was partly demolished two years ago. Now, St. John’s Park is in the same location, and the fence that was once around the church is now around the park. We all felt a bit disappointed to see the church gone, but a woman passing by indicated that she and other residents were very proud of their little park. As much as they appreciated the park, I hate to see historic buildings disappear.
     Further down Atwells we finally reached the center of town and drove up towards the Rhode Island State House, which claims to be the second largest unsupported marble dome in the world, the first being St. Paul’s. We circled around the State House and also drove past Providence’s new Water Place Park, which apparently involved moving a portion of the Providence River. After this, we headed back to the B&B to watch my videotape thus far in the common room. George and I worked on the television and VCR for some time without any success. Finally, George asked a young man who works at the B&B if he could help. A minute or two later, he came in, turned the TV around and swapped some cables. Apparently, they don’t have the remote for their VCR, so they watch television directly (since it has a remote), and swap cables to watch videotapes...
     Anyway, we watched my videotape and enjoyed seeing all the sights over again, or for the first time, in George’s case. My tape’s almost two hours long at this point, so it was almost 10 p.m. by the time we were done watching it. Pam was of the opinion that she hadn’t had enough for dinner and George wanted a small meal, so we walked down the street to Checker’s Pizza to give them another chance. This time we ordered a small white pizza with spinach, garlic, and tomatoes. It was better than our last one, but still not as good as the pizza we had two years ago. I played a couple of games of Arkanoid and did really badly, partly due to a bad controller.
     Tomorrow, we’ll be wrapping up our Providence travels, visiting the John Brown House (considered by John Quincy Adams to be, “The most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on this continent.”), the Swan Point Cemetery (final resting place of Lovecraft), the Ladd Observatory (where Lovecraft spent a great deal of time in his younger years), and several other places of Lovecraftian interest. Although we’ll finish up with Providence tomorrow, we’ll be staying on an extra day, using Providence as our base of operations for our trip to New Bedford and Mystic. See you all later!