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It’s Personal in New England

Every time I visit New England, it reminds me of my grandfather.

Malcolm Jewell was born in Rhode Island and spent most of his early life there, earning a degree at Harvard before marrying an Indiana girl (my grandmother) and taking a faculty job at the University of Kentucky. He loved Kentucky and raised his family here, but he was always a New Englander at heart. A few years after he retired from the university, he moved back to Connecticut, where he lived with his second wife.

My first trip to New England was a family vacation that we spent with them one summer when I was in high school. I remember my grandfather being excited to introduce me to a proper lobster dinner for the first time. I also remember him taking us to see a fireworks display on the coast for the Fourth of July. To this day, it remains the greatest fireworks show I’ve ever seen.

Years later, once I had begun working as a travel writer, I took a fall foliage tour of New England. This trip included a city tour around Boston, and our local guide could have been a stunt double for my grandfather.

A few years ago, I made a trip to Rhode Island to work on another story. Here, in my grandfather’s home state, the reminders were all around me: From the historic homes and libraries I visited to the people I met, everything made me think of my grandfather. It was on that trip that I realized that New England made him who he was. Everything there reminded me of him because that is where he came from.

New England was my grandfather’s homeland, and its people were his people. And in a small way, that makes them my people too.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.