Trampoline & Tambourine


Trampoline (noun)- a piece of equipment that has a sheet of strong cloth attached by springs to a metal frame and is used for jumping up and down

Tambourine (noun)– a percussion instrument resembling a shallow drum with small metal disks in slots around the edge, played by being shaken or hit with the hand

Trampoline and tambourine sound so similar to my ears. They both have the same ring and rhythm when spoken. This blog entry is about the former. Or rather, it’s about a Thanksgiving tradition.

For the last four years, I spent every Thanksgiving in Rockport. In addition to stuffing ourselves with a home-grown bird (more on this later), we also enjoyed a post-feast walk or waddle. When the weather permits and we’re up for a long stroll, we often opt for a visit to Dogtown.

Before the turn of the 19th century, the area later known as Dogtown was an inland settlement on Cape Ann inhibited by families who sought protection from pirates. It was also the only direct land route between Rockport and Gloucester. After the development of coastal roads, the demographic of Dogtown gradually shifted from reputable citizens to widows and vagrants to witches to abandoned howling dogs. Most of the land today is densely wooded and held in trust by Rockport and Gloucester.

A couple years ago, we went to Dogtown on a trail that had a side path leading to three large trampolines. Above one of them was a small deck built around a tree with an attached rope ladder. Jumping on a trampoline inescapably brought out the childlike and goofy nature of anyone. The automatic and immediate reaction felt like a less patronizing version of “Just smile, you’ll feel better!”

We continued the trek, walked past two famous granite rocks Whale’s Jaw and Peter’s Pulpit, and arrived at Dogtown Square. During the Great Depression, a Gloucester native and millionaire Roger Babson, the founder of Babson College, hired unemployed quarry workers to carve inspiration slogans onto 40 stones in Dogtown. Most were one-word virtues: Courage, Integrity, Kindness, Truth, Loyalty. Some were more nagging: Be Clean, Get a Job, Help Mother, Keep Out of Debt, Use Your Head. A few were more abstract: If Work Stops Values Decay, Prosperity Follows Service.

It was fun trying to find all of boulders with mottos. It was also worthwhile to sit on the edge of Babson Reservoir and watch a commuter train zoom by. While the winter sun still hung low on the horizon, we scrambled to our feet and quickened our pace on our return journey back to Rockport.

Old boundary walls in Dogtown
A motto rock
Babson Reservoir

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