Jul 262012

Although she was tried and acquitted for the crimes, most people believe that Lizzie Borden killed her father and stepmother with an ax at their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892.

You all remember the song we learned as kids, “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.” In reality, Lizzie’s stepmother Abby suffered nineteen blows from the ax, and her father eleven, but you know how kids exaggerate. Aren’t those wonderful statistics to start your day with?

We spent the day in Fall River yesterday, and after dealing with the traffic, the crazy drivers, the road construction, and everything else, all I can say is, it’s okay Lizzie, I understand. If I had to spend much time there, it could turn me into an ax murderer too!

The home where the murders took place is now a bed-and-breakfast, and for a fee you can take a tour, by appointment.

Borden house

Lizzie’s father, Andrew Borden, her mother Sarah, stepmother Abby, her two sisters and Lizzie are all buried in the Borden family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery, a couple of miles from the Borden home.

Borden grave


Fall River is also home to Battleship Cove, which boasts the world’s largest collection of US Navy warships in one place. These include the battleship USS Massachusetts, the destroyer USS Joseph P Kennedy Jr., the submarine USS Lionfish, two World War II-era PT boats, a World War II landing craft, and the Russian corvette Hiddensee.



We spent several hours at Battleship Cove, watching a video on the role that PT boats played during World War II, touring the ships from stem to stern, and watching another video on the Battle of Midway in the South Pacific. After climbing up and down so many ladders, stepping over high gangways and hatches, and winding my way through narrow passageways below decks, I told Miss Terry that I was glad I was a grunt in the Army instead of a Navy squid. I may have had to walk over half of Vietnam, but at least most of it was flat!

Although I almost changed my mind when I read the menu posted aboard the Joseph P Kennedy Jr. Scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon, and cereal for breakfast? Hotdogs and grilled sandwiches for lunch? Roast beef, lasagna, and hamburgers for dinner? That sure beats the heck out of cold beans and weenies out of a can!

Sleeping and living quarters were cramped, at best, aboard battleships.


But how would you like to have these bunks, in the forward torpedo room of the submarine? Those green tubes below them are torpedoes. There’s nothing like sleeping on top of high explosives to make for a restless night!


I would have hated to have been an enemy sailor looking across the water and seeing the Massachusetts aiming her guns at me. That thing had guns of every size bristling on every deck! Light machine guns, heavy machine guns, 40 mm guns, and her big guns, which fired rounds as big as Volkswagen’s, that cost as much a Chevrolets.



PT boats were like the waterborne version of fighter airplanes, fast, heavily armed, and crewed by fearless men who accomplished amazing things against overwhelming odds.



Battleship Cove is also home to a beautiful working carousel that was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1920, and was located at nearby Lincoln Park until 1986. It has been completely restored and is housed inside a building constructed just for it. The beautiful old carousel is a true work of art.



All of that touring made us hungry and it was late in the day, so we started looking for someplace to eat. The Yelp app on my Droid led us to Al Mac’s Diner, which has been a Fall River institution delighting local folks and famous visitors alike, since 1910. Unfortunately, we visited on Wednesday, and Al Mac’s closed its doors for good on Sunday. I wish we would have come a few days earlier, I’d have loved to have had dinner there one time.


I found another nearby restaurant that looked interesting, but wound up getting lost and confused in the maze of construction zones and one-way streets in Fall River, and the next thing I knew we were crossing the very high, very long Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge over the Taunton River. Since we weren’t in the motorhome, it wasn’t too bad and once we got to the other side we dodged traffic and got back on Interstate 195 to return across the bridge, and then we kept right on driving. I’d had enough of Fall River for one day.

It’s an interesting city with a lot of history to it, and I might go back someday for another visit. But if I do, I’m taking my ax with me, just in case!

Thought For The Day – Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Nick Russell

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  8 Responses to “It’s Okay, Lizzie, I Understand”

  1. I recall reading some where,Nick, that those Volkswagen-sized shells traveled a couple of miles with amazing accuracy. And this was in an era before laser guidance.

  2. That menu didn’t happen to mention the shrimp and lobster we had a couple times a month did it?

  3. 13 & 1/2 months in Viet Nam, 9 months of that in the mountains……up, down, up down. Didn’t see a lot of flat. :>)

  4. Do ya remember the Doonesbury cartoon that showed the navy guys playing cards in air conditioned comfort while the army guys were out in the heat? I was lucky in the Navy in that my ship had a lot of room to spread out in both my berthing and work spaces. And yes, there were times when the food was pretty darn good also!

  5. Nick, we had the fortune of volunteering on the US battelship Texas one winter. Those shells were the weight of a volkswagen beetle not the “size” there is a difference. Thanks for the tour.

  6. Nick please tell people touring ships to turn around and go down the ladders/stairs backwards. Three years ago I was touring an old ship and took a bad fall from about nine feet up. Broke my nose and a bone in my cheek, and my right wrist.

  7. I toured the battleship Alabama and the submarine Drum in Mobile, AL., a while back. That day I learned why, as I expect you did today also, there are no fat old men in the Navy.


  8. Charles, not to mention the rain and the mud and sleeping in it…..and the 14 year old c-rations that we got too.

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