Axe-murderers, Bad Art, and Old Beer

20 Apr

by Kristy and Kristen

We make good travel partners because we both like to (lightly) research weird things to do and then commit to them 100%. Inspired by the oddities of New England, we recently planned and executed a day trip that began in Fall River and ended in Boston.  Here were our picks:

If the tour leaves you wanting more, book a room!

1. Lizzie Borden House, Fall River 
Fall River, Massachusetts, is a depressed factory town with a telling motto of “We’ll Try,” although it honestly doesn’t feel like anyone has in quite some time. It is most famous for the 1892 murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, of the kid-friendly jump rope rhyme, “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.” We took a tour of Lizzie’s home, led by what appeared to be a 16-year old girl with a heavy Boston accent and a to-go cup of soda she never put down. Don’t judge her! She is incredibly well informed on the history and mysteries surrounding the murders, and she is working on her mortician certification. So, we guess that answers the question of whether working at such a place leads one to odd life choices. During the tour we were encouraged to recreate the death scene in the living room, and to guess whether Lizzie really was the murderer.  If you haven’t had enough of the Borden saga, you can spend the night at the B&B, visit the cemetery where the Bordens are buried, or try to gain entrance to the historical society which contains many Borden-related relics.

Yes, this art is at the entrance to the loo.

2. Museum of Bad Art, Dedham and Somerville 
The Museum of Bad Art, or MOBA, asks tough questions such as “Are those ice creams or mountains?” and “What would Mary Todd Lincoln look like with poinsettias on her head?” We visited the Dedham location, which is next to the men’s bathroom in a local theater (the website claims, “the nearby flushing helps maintain a uniform humidity”). Whoever wrote the captions to the found and donated pieces in the collection deserves a Pulitzer.

3. Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery, Dedham 
If there is a line between heartwarmingly uplifting and devastatingly heartbreaking, this place straddles it. You’ll laugh at the pet names: Boobalina the Cat, Popcorn Weiner (in the Jewish section, yes, you heard me right), Odin Son of Thor, or Mr. Goodboy. You’ll cry at the epitaphs: “If love could have saved you, you never would have died” and “You were always momma’s little girl.” Either way, you’ll be planning what to do with your pet when he or she passes (Kristy: taxidermy, Kristen: freeze in carbonite).

4. Candy and Pastries, Chinatown
By this time you’ll be starving and Chinatown in Boston offers all sorts of treats. Given the opportunity, Kristen will always chose a candy dinner, but there are many things to nourish you in this part of town. Due to a disappointing Portugese lunch we found in Fall River after scouring the town for an interesting meal (where we dined on ‘authentic’ Tiki cocktails and wedges of cheddar cheese), we were ready for some excitement. Chinatown bakeries lured us in with unidentifiable beige-colored treats in the windows (made all the more appealing given the duck carcasses hanging in the neighboring windows), and the Chinese groceries were stocked with interesting candies (kiwi! lychee in a tube!! colorful bag that we can’t read!).

Suum Cuique: latin for, drink what you like

5. Old Pubs, Boston
By now you’ll be needing a cocktail, but there is no reason to get off the culture train while drinking! We visited Jacob Wirth’s, Warren Tavern, and the Bell in Hand (we really needed a drink). Jacob Wirth (1868) is in the heart of the theater district and features a large old wooden bar, with the words Suum Cuique (to each his own), great tidings when you’re about to order a drink.  Wirth’s is also a German establishment, so try the brats, the soft bavarian pretzels, and the fried pickles with your beer.  The Warrern Tavern (1780) bills itself as the oldest in Massachusetts, and is located on the winding streets of Charlestown.  While this place had the most impressive history, the atmosphere of college kids and the disappointing food/drink made it only a quick stop. There are amazing historical watering holes in the Boston area, so check out Kristy’s Best Old Timey Bars in Boston.

On our list for the next New England Adventure:
1. The Museum of Burnt Food (Arlington, MA) (Runners up for most unusual museums: Thermometer Museum, Beer Can Museum)
2. Learn the Trapeze at a Furniture Store
3. Overly obvious choices: historical oddities in Salem, Plymouth,

Recommended Resources for finding weird things to do in the area:
– Book: Weird Massachusetts

– Book series: Maine Curiosities, Massachusetts Curiosities
– Book: Strange Maine

Roadside America website
Eccentric America
Strange New England
– New England Oddities A to Z
– A great list of Bizarre Travel Guides.


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