peddocks island, boston harbor
Peddocks Island is where the film Shutter Island was filmed. It's about mental institutions and brain experiments and murdering children and ghosts and fires and ridiculous rain storms and an ending that doesn't really make sense. It's basically a promotional video for the real Peddocks Island.
Which is great! Except for the millions of devil mosquitoes. Other than that. Speaking of, have you read about the thing where they are breeding poison nectar plants to kill the mosquitoes? I think that's what is going on, I only read the subhead, because I'm very busy with jobs and school and hanging out on an island all day, but that seemed to be the gist of it. And, on the one hand, I can see how it would be like, maybe that's a bad idea, playing with nature and killing a species and breeding poison plants and Little Shop of Horrors. But, on the other hand, I think I had 40 bites on EACH LEG that day. And they were mutant mosquitoes who were very hungry because they live on an island. And we didn't bring the bug spray because bug spray is unnatural chemicals, just kidding, we forgot.
So, to get to Peddocks Island you have to take a ferry from Boston to Georges Island. Then you take the Tropic Cat to Peddocks Island (well first you stop at Hull, where you can be jealous of the high school that is on the end of the peninsula - the football field is surrounded by water on three sides). And as you are approaching the island you can play that weird foghorn song from Shutter Island in your head. BWAAAAAA. BWAAAAA. If you want.
Peddocks Island is home to the abandoned and decaying Fort Andrews. You can spend the day wandering through the ruins, thinking about history, getting eaten by mosquitoes, hearing wild turkeys calling in the distance and being creeped out. There was one turkey in particular that would not shutup. On the day we went there were probably 30 people on the island, which is one of the biggest in the Boston Harbor Islands system, so we basically saw nobody all day long. It was fantastic.
When you first get to the island, you walk past the old guardhouse, the old parade grounds, the old barracks and the old ruins of the old administration building. Down this road, which is lined with rusty (old) fire hydrants, takes you to the old gymnasium. The windows and doors are boarded up on most of the buildings, because of asbestos and danger, but a door that opened to one of the batteries led to dark, wet rooms. If you head through a few dark passages you can see Battery Whitman, named after Major Frank Whitman of Kansas, which is now choked with plants and vines. I want to have a birthday party there, if I didn't think that throwing oneself a birthday party was ridiculous. There are still old pipes, electrical boxes, washing machines and kitchen equipment scattered about the area.
Towards the far end of the island is a large building that may have been the POW camp. The Fort was home to tens of thousands of Italian POWs during World War II, although it sounds like they mainly watched movies, gardened, ate big meals with the vegetables they grew and took weekend trips to the North End. As the Boston Globe reported, one POW who had returned to the island in 2001 was asked about his treatment: "[he] spread his arms wide and beamed. 'Benissimo.'" Apparently being a prisoner of war is my dream life.
Sadly, a number of the buildings were recently torn down due to dilapidation, including the old hospital and a number of the officers' quarters. They are currently trying to rehabilitate the island and make it more popular, with talk of a bed and breakfast and more established camping facilities and other nonsense. Right now you can camp on the island, but there is no electricity, no running water and you have to carry everything on and off both the ferry and the shuttle boat.
Speaking of camping, there are 30-something privately owned cottages on the island, a couple inhabited year-round, others collapsed in piles of driftwood. Portuguese fishermen built the shacks in the late-18/early 1900s, paying a yearly rental fee to the island's owners. When the Metropolitan District Commission bought the island in the 1970s, residents started paying a $400 yearly fee, but with the stipulation that the cottages revert to the state when the owner dies. Today, a few of the residents get by on well water and solar power, but the rest are mainly summer weekend homes. Or prisoner of war camps. Same thing, I guess.
Sadly, Hurricane Irene took out the dock recently, so they have closed Peddocks for the rest of the season. It's a beautiful island, with the longest shoreline of any of the islands in the Boston Harbor system, although very rocky. We had a picnic on a small isthmus, watching the sailboats and playing a very fun game where you try to throw a rock at another rock. Before we had to get back to the dock we took a nap on a large wooden barge that had washed onto the shore, watching out for the rusty nails.
Speaking of getting back to the dock, we missed our boat - the last boat of the day. We were actually on the deck, in that little boathouse in the picture at the very top of this post, when apparently the boat came and went. I saw the boat pulling away and thought, "That looks like the Tropic Cat." So I went back to the island and asked the ranger, who said they didn't think anybody else was on the island so they let it go early. He got on his walkie talkie: "Peddocks to Tropic Cat, we have two stragglers on the island. Peddocks to Tropic Cat." The boat came back and we got on while everyone stared at us. Oh well.