Published on March 9, 2009
For the second episode in a row, my plans got thwarted by facts. Bad Jobs #1 was supposed to be about these boys who sat in the dark in a tunnel dug into the seabed beneath Narragansett Bay between Newport and Jamestown, Rhode Island. The boys were working for the Navy during the War of 1812, sitting in the muddy tunnel in the middle of the night listening for subtle shifts in sound inside the narrow passage. If the sound changed there was a British Ship trying to slip into Newport Harbor under cover of night for a sneak attack. This story has fascinated me for at least a decade, since a friend told me about the boys one beautiful afternoon tooling around Fort Wetherill, an abandoned WWII gunnery on Jamestown (where they once looked for ships trying to slip into Newport Harbor for a sneak attack). Problem is, the story’s not true at all. Total fabrication, according to the folks at the Fort Adams historic site (well, not a total fabrication; it’s actually a couple of less-interesting phenomena conflated and enhanced with a healthy dose of freestyling). That’s the long way to say: tip of the hat to my friend Mose, who had an entirely true tale of other kids in tunnels at the ready while sitting at the movies the other day, waiting to be disappointed by The Watchmen.
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