July 31, 1913

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The Tower

I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. Today I am twenty years old, and it’s my last birthday as a single woman. I get married in one week! Each day going forward is a countdown. The last Monday, the last Tuesday . . .until August 8th when I become Lady Gold, wife of Daniel, Lord Gold.

Not that English titles matter in New England. I’ve decided to present myself simply as Mrs. Gold.

Daniel had a special day planned for me. Lunch in Little Italy—I’d become a fan of Italian food since my first encounter with Pizza, and I looked forward to trying Eggplant Parmigiana—and of course, a big party tonight at our townhouse on Beacon Hill. But first, he said, a surprise.

I couldn’t imagine what it could be, but whatever it was required a cart and driver. Our driver Mr. McDoogle had the horse and carriage ready.

I was glad we were going in the morning while the heat and the humidity that can so often characterize a summer day in July in Boston were still at a tolerable level. Indeed the sun felt merely warm on my face and the breeze felt slightly cool as our made our way down State Street.

My arm was linked through Daniels and we sat very close together indeed. 

“Where are we going?” I asked. “You simply must tell!”

He only smiled, his eyes twinkling, before he set his gaze on the city structure that had been the talk of Boston for months—another modern marvel in our very own town. 

The construction of the new Custom House Tower could be seen from any point in Boston. It truly was a marvel.

The tower’s steel girders and partially finished exterior were clearly seen, even from three blocks away. It already stood more than twice as high as any other building around it. I felt a sense of awe, staring at it.

Wherever it was that Daniel was taking me, it became clear that it would take us right past the tower. 

Oh my, what a sight! The steel girder infrastructure already stood 20 stories high while the finished exterior had reached 15 stories. It made me woozy just looking at it. What kind of a mind conspires to design such an incredible ziggurat? What kind of bravery did it take for men to walk upon those lofty girders? I even spied what seemed to be men sitting on one of them drinking coffee.

“It’s like our future, Daniel,” I said dreamily. “We’re building our lives together. Floor by floor, until one day, a long time from now, it will be completed.”

Daniel’s grin deepened. “Beautiful and strong.”

I didn’t think I could love him more than I did in that moment. 

Eight foot high wooden barriers erected around the entire construction site so, imagine my surprise when Daniel asked Mr. McDoogle to bring the carriage to a stop.

“What are we doing?” I asked.

“A cricket chap of mine from London is a foreman. He agreed to give us a tour.”

My jaw almost fell to my feet. “Is that allowed? Isn’t it dangerous?”

Daniel wrapped an arm around my shoulder. “Love, I wouldn’t dream of putting you in danger. Consider it an adventure.”  The first of many, I was sure.

Mr. Greer waved when he spotted us and let us through a side gate.

He and Daniel greeted each other heartily, then Mr. Greer stared at me. 

“My God, Daniel. She’s a beauty.” I felt myself blush at his praise. He took  my hand and made a show of kissing the top of my glove. With a mischievous glint he added, “I hope he proves worthy of you, milady.”

“I’m sure we will prove worth of each other, Mr. Greer.” 

He motioned for us to follow him. “I’ve told the fellas you are potential investors, so don’t let on that you know me.” He led us through the Custom House. It had been vacated, but remained in much of the same condition as before the construction of the tower began. We took the elevator to the rooftop, where Mr. Greer gave us time to look over the city.

“I dare say,” he said, “if you think this is something, just wait.”

A new elevator shaft had been constructed and he opened the doors for us to step inside. “This lift only goes to the fifteenth floor so far.” 

It was a bit of a jerky ride and I think my stomach stayed behind on the roof of the custom house. The sensation of going up, up, up, was dizzying. I held on tightly to Daniel’s arm.

The elevator doors opened to a framed in but unfinished open space. Daniel kept a hand on my lower back as we navigated the construction debris.

“Watch you don’t step on a nail,” Mr. Greer instructed.

Soon we were standing near the edge, looking at the glory of Boston’s North End spread out below.  The harbor was directly beneath on the east side, with the long wharf stretching into the distance. It amazed me how a magnificent structure such as this could be built on the edge of the water! 

We moved along to the north and west sides and I gaped as a I picked out so many well-known sites: Faneuil Hall, Hay Market Square, Copp’s Hill.  I could even see the golden dome of the State House and the roof top of our townhouse facing the Common.

“This must be what it feels like to be a bird,” I said. “From this perspective, I feel like anything is possible.” I smiled up at Daniel. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

He kissed my forehead. “Happy Birthday, love.”

I kissed him on the lips. “To our life’s tower.”

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