On this very day, in 1620, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England aboard the Mayflower. One hundred and two passengers were aboard that ship headed for this New World. Now, a lot of you might already be yawning and ready to close down this tab on your browser because history bores you. Don’t do it! I don’t have much sympathy or understanding for the history haters, because I myself have always been fascinated by past events. I owe this to my mom, who basically forced my sister and I to love going to Colonial Williamsburg (we’ve been there five times and we live 15 hours away…you do the math) when we were in elementary school. It was there that history came alive for me. So please, if history makes you want to fall asleep, try to picture the events of this day, 398 years ago.
I imagine, that Plymouth, England was windy that day (I have no idea if it was, but imagining helps put me in the Pilgrim’s shoe buckles, if you will) considering it is on the coast. Probably a bit chilly, as fall is about to set in. The Pilgrims were probably nervous and a bit sad, saying goodbye to friends and family who were staying behind. They looked to the Mayflower and wondered, “Will I survive? Will I ever see these people again? What is the place like where I am headed?” And before they thought too much more, they entered the ship. They waved goodbye and off they were. I myself cannot imagine having to leave my home behind in hopes of something better. Also, I cannot comprehend doing something that I might not survive in the end.
Did you also know that aboard that ship there were two dogs? There are historical documents that have proof that two dogs (a Spaniel and a Mastiff) gained their sea legs with the other 102 passengers that day. While in modern society we couldn’t imagine NOT taking our furry friends with us on our journey, in the 1600s these dogs played an integral role in survival for the Pilgrims; protection and hunting being at the top.
Now, if I am imagining Minna boarding a ship with me, I can REALLY see history come alive! Minna would be entertaining that ship with her head tilts, paw massaging demands, and snoring at night. While I have no way of knowing what these two dogs were like on the Mayflower, or how hard life must have been for the Pilgrims during that long voyage, in my mind I can imagine how insanely difficult it probably was.
This past summer, I was able to visit Plymouth, Massachusetts and see the actual landing site of the Pilgrims. Plymouth Rock, whether something that truly was there when they landed or just a tall tale from the mind’s eye of an old storyteller, we don’t know. But isn’t it cool to imagine and see?! Perhaps right where I was standing John Carver himself stood with his Mastiff looking out at the Atlantic.
To end, I would like to share some information about visiting Plimoth Plantation and Plymouth Rock. I absolutely loved going to these historic places this summer. And thanks to my mom, I am a strong believer that all teachers should try to travel to historical places so they can share the stories with their students. Teachers, parents, children, and adults of all ages should make their own voyage to Massachusetts to see the first permanent settlement in the New World and to see history come alive! Plimoth Plantation is not the actual site where the Pilgrims settled, because the actual site is now a city (which is actually kind of cool if you sit down and think about it). Plimoth Plantation is a recreation of what life was like for the Pilgrims during those first years after settling. Everyone at the plantation is dressed in period clothing and their conversations are as if they are really living during the time (if you snap a picture of them they will be very confused!).
Travel just a few miles, and you can see Plymouth Rock and the city of Plymouth, Massachusetts which is the actual site of the Pilgrim settlement. I will let the pictures below do the talking for now. Happy traveling and learning!