VALENTINE'S DAY IN WORCESTER
It's Valentine's Day, so naturally people's thoughts turn to Worcester. Although many people think of Worcester as a wicked cool Central Mass. town that's home to the Centrum concert hall, the better-informed know that it's also so much more.
Worcester is the lovingest place on earth. In honor of Valentine's Day, FM decided to give you a guide for that wicked awesome Valentine's Day Date in God's Country. The date will start on the bus ride, which is short, cheap, and generally painless: a mere forty-five minutes from Boston's South Station, and even the stingiest suitors will admit that the $7 price tag is wicked cheap.
Still, what to do on the ride down? Try impressing your date with your Worcester Knowledge. In the spirit of the season, drop Esther Howland's name. She was the first person to mass produce Valentine cards in the United States, in 1848.
By now, you hope your bus ride to God's Country will be getting a little hot and steamy. Just the time to mention the invention of the birth control pill by the Worcester Biological Foundation. Its approval by the FDA in 1960 undoubtedly led directly to the next important Worcester invention, the yellow smiley face, designed in 1963 by Worcester artist Harvey Ball.
As the bus pulls in to the bus stop opposite the neon Coney Island Hot Dog sign, your date sighs, as s/he begins to be filled with a feeling locals know as Worcesterpride. You hail a cab, whistling a romantic tune by onetime Worcester resident Cole Porter, and you and your date (who by now is so impressed s/he is destined to become your lifelong mate as well as fellow Worcester resident), head to phase I of your Wicked Awesome Valentine's Day Date, dinner at the Boulevard Diner. As the saying goes "Ain't no place finer than the Boulevard Diner!" The Boulevard is an example of another fine Worcester tradition: the Worcester Lunch Car and Carriage Manufacturing Co. was the leading builder of diners in new England until it was forced out of business in 1961.
You are now ready to move on to phase 2 of your Wicked Awesome Valentine's Day Date, the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure portion of the evening. You could check out a concert or sports event at the Centrum. You could go dancing and drinking at Ralph's Diner, a popular local bar. Or you could move directly on to phase 3, provided that you, like Worcester, are wicked cool.
Phase 3 begins with a leisurely ride through town. On the way you regale your date with tales of famous Worcester personalities such as Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Revolutionary War (wicked cool); Abbie Hoffman, founder of the Youth International Party of the 1960s (wicked, wicked cool); and Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve as a member of a presidential cabinet and the namesake of Frances "Baby" Houseman, the Jennifer Grey character in Dirty Dancing (wicked cool lady, wicked cool movie.)
You could go on, but you see you are reaching your destination, so you decide to hit your date with the most impressive information of all: the Dead Sea Scrolls were at one point housed in Worcester, in a cabinet in a red brick house on Aylesbury St. As every good Worcester resident knows, a Lebanese family who lived in Worcester had possession of part of the Scrolls in between the discovery of the Scrolls in Jordan and their eventual return to Israel.
By now you've got your date right where you want him/her--at Bancroft Tower. With this medieval tower that was built in the 1940s behind you and the city in front of you, you are in a prime location for some Valentine's Day parking.
You ask your cabdriver to wait until he starts getting embarrassed, and then you finally leave, wistfully reciting poems by an old Harvard student who had a girlfriend in Worcester--e.e. cummings. As you head back to Satan's country (the greater Boston area) you hear your date whisper, "This was a great date, honey. I love Worcester." Yes, Worcester is wicked awesome. And so are you.