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How New England Are You?

65. Raise a Glass
No, it’s not the bar where everybody knows your name, but Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, which first opened its doors in 1882, is the watering hole to go to if you want to drench yourself in Boston political history, the city’s Irish heritage, or, you know, any of the 21 draft brews on tap. Cheers!

66. Speak Like a Regular at Louis’ Lunch
At this New Haven, Conn., institution, birthplace of the burger, tell ’em to “burn one, take it through the garden, and pin a rose on it” (grilled, with lettuce, tomato, and onion). Grab a “stretch” (Coke) and finish up with a “blonde with sand” (coffee with cream and sugar).

67. Grin and Bear It: Bits of Life Every New Englander Has Learned to Contend With
Blackfly season: We know not to wear dark-colored clothes.
May frost: We know not to plant before Memorial Day.
Mud season: We know enough to park and walk down that “quaint” dirt road in March.
Boiled dinners: We just know that we’re supposed to like them. So we do.
Hollywood’s Boston accents: We know that Matt Damon should play all Beantown characters.

68. Start Your Cape Weekend on a Thursday
Beat the traffic and get a jump on a long weekend that may see you take in a movie at the Wellfleet Drive-In, see an over-the-water sunset at Race Point, and head away from land to see right and humpback whales breach the water.

69. Get Your Red, White & Blue On
Since 1785, the historic seaport town of Bristol, Rhode Island, has marked Independence Day with as much spirit and allegiance as Boston holds for its annual Patriots’ Day marathon. Its anchor: the oldest continual Fourth of July parade in the country. The roads are center-striped in red, white, and blue; marching bands wail; drum-and-bugle corps compete; parade floats amaze; the orations inspire; and all the while a little town in a little state comes up big in celebrating our country’s birth.

70. Tour the USS Constitution
The quick skinny on the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat. Launch: October 21, 1797, Boston’s Hartt Shipyard; one of the first six ships commissioned by the new U.S. Navy. Size: 204 feet long; 220-foot mainmast (just 1 foot shorter than Bunker Hill Monument). Crew capacity: 500 (uncomfortable) men. Name game: Earned its nickname, Old Ironsides, after a victorious battle against the British in the War of 1812. Current home: Charlestown, MA.

71. Read a Timeless New England Book (Any of These Will Do)
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
We Took to the Woods, by Louise Dickinson Rich
Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

72. Tour the Bones in Our Closet
We may not be proud of all of our history, but that won’t stop us from putting in a gift shop and charging admission. Morbidly inclined travelers can pick from an assortment of macabre New England attractions, including the Lizzie Borden B&B in Fall River, Mass.; a tour of Boston Strangler crime scenes; and pretty much the entire city of Salem, also in the curiously ghoulish Bay State.

73. Buy the Maple Syrup That Locals Buy
Yes, you can pay more for that Vermont Fancy, but savvy locals know the better deal and a stronger maple taste comes from the Grade B stuff, sold in bulk at food co-ops and small shops around the region.

74. Debate the Cakes
Rhode Islanders have come to blows over jonnycakes for any number of reasons–over how they originated (Indians vs. settlers), over how to spell the name (journey-cake vs. Johnny cake vs. Jonny cake vs. johnnycake vs. jonnycake), over which kind of corn to grind for jonnycake meal (whitecap flint vs. white dent), and even over how to grind that corn (hot and round vs. flat and cool). Of course the most heated arguments occur over the “correct” way to make them: Debates about the merits of South County (West Bay)-style (thick, made with boiling water) vs. Newport County (East Bay)-style (thin, made with cold milk) have even reached the Rhode Island legislature. It’s enough to work up a healthy appetite.

75. Know That Covered Bridges Weren’t Covered to Keep Out the Snow
Joe Allen of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, who answered Yankee reader inquiries for more than 35 years in his “Sayings of the Oracle” column, had a short fuse when it came to questions regarding the origin of the covered bridge. One of his last answers proved to be the hottest: “Jesus for Guard Almighty, we thought all hands knew by this time,” he wrote back to one reader. “Bridges were covered, damn fool, for the same reason women used to wear petticoats–to protect their underpinnings. Ever hear that wood rots when it gets wet? Your asinine suggestion that they were covered to keep the snow off the road is dead wrong. In fact, I recollect throwing snow inside the bridges after a snowstorm so our sleighs wouldn’t grind on the wood.” Rest in peace, Joe.

Updated Monday, August 16th, 2010

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