Table of Contents
- Starting Point
- Intermediate Steps
- To the War Memorial
- Metaphors and Symbolism
- The Digging Location
- Meanings and Themes
- Special Thanks
The following is my interpretation of the solution to image 11 / Verse 3. I consider this solution to be complete.
General Observations and Thoughts
At first glance, Image 11 raises many questions:
- Who is this red-headed woman?
- Why is there a globe and stand in the image?
- What are the lines in the main circle? Numbers?
- What do the moon and celestial object (star or planet) represent?
- What do the squiggly lines on her dress and the box represent?
- What is her index finger pointing to?
- Why is there a fairy flying away from the box that she is opening?
The answers to these questions are all significant to solving the puzzle. Solutions that do not answer these questions, or recognize their importance, miss out on the author’s clues. While they are not all critical to solving the puzzle, they do add depth and reinforce the correct interpretations.
Before I get started, I would like to point out two general themes in the image. It is important to note the fairy flying away from the box in the woman’s hands. There are 4 references to the fairy embedded in this puzzle. Also note that “truth” has 3 separate references in this puzzle, as I will show as we go. For that matter, Image 11 itself is chock-full of these sort of things. Boston, being one of America’s most iconic/historic cities, has an abundance of possible locations and connections to references in this puzzle. It is easy to interpret meaning and make connections to locations that are not related to finding the casque. This makes it especially important to see the layers of meaning for each step of the solution. They will help assure us that we have chosen the right path. Also each physical location that we arrive at from the verse is roughly 100-200 yards apart. They are evenly spaced and consecutive locations along a walking path.
Connection to Charlesgate and Back Bay Fens
Assuming we have already made the connection to Boston, we have a few clues in the image that we should be in the Back Bay Fens/Charlesgate area. The most prominent is the map and note, seemingly emanating from a crack in the stone to the right of the woman. The pathways of the map bear resemblance to the Massachusetts Turnpike, Boylston St, and the Berkelee College of Music. There is also a more subtle reference to John Boyle O’Reilly in the image. While many people see a ‘112°’ written in the flower petals to the bottom left of said map. I believe that this actually reads ‘212°’, as 212° is the boiling point for water. This is a reference to John Boyle O’Reilly, and the many locations named after him in the area. The position of the ‘212°’ imagery with respect to the ‘map’ is geographically consistent with the John Boyle O’Reilly Memorial, Boylston St, and the Boylston Section of the Victory Gardens, i.e. it is southwest of the other items on the map. Looking more at the image for confirmation, the base of the first ‘2’ in ‘212°’ is visible but the hook of the ‘2’ is not so easily seen. I enhanced the colors of the image and do see a faint but distinct color difference where the hook of the ‘2’ should be, indicating that JJP did intend to paint this part of the image as a number ‘2’. The enhanced color, position of the imagery, and geographical correlation combined make sense as a reference to John Boyle O’Reilly. There is a ‘3’ written into the negative of the woman’s hair just left of the ‘212°’. I think this ‘3’ actually relates to the shape of the docks in Boston Harbor (this can be seen on the pbworks wiki) and is unrelated to the Boyle reference.
The Red-headed Female Columbus
We know the area, now where do we start? To begin to understand this puzzle we must first look at, and correctly interpret, four aspects of the image before we can fully understand the first two lines of the verse. I know, this sounds like a lot, please bear with me. The foremost aspect of the image, the woman, was modeled after the Christopher Columbus statue in the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. Another strong reference to Christopher Columbus is in the lower right quadrant of the image. The sphere (or globe) is held by a stand that forms the shape of his initials: “CC”. The image of the globe itself, is also a reference to Columbus, in that it is/was the popular belief that Columbus proved the Earth was round.
There is a third, more subtle reference to Columbus in the form of his initials “CC” drawn in the lower half of the main circle (shown above), and there is a very small checkmark inside the initials at about 3 o’clock. After weeks of pondering its meaning, I believe it is to be interpreted as “Check or CC” i.e. “Check or Credit Card” – the common question at a point of sale. In other words, it is there to reinforce the interpretation of the initials as “CC”. This is rather cryptic and I am not positive of its interpretation. However, I think this scenario is plausible, and it does make sense toward the puzzle, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek.
While there are many historic places in Boston that commemorate Columbus, it is important for this puzzle to understand who we are looking at. The fact that we are looking at a red-headed female version of Columbus is significant.
The Sons of Ireland
Next, we take a look at the heart and feather in the circle directly above the woman. The heart and feather (quill pen) represent the Sons of Ireland, “Courage” and “Poetry” respectively, from the John Boyle O’Reilly Memorial, located on the northeast corner of Mother’s Rest at the intersection of Boylston and Fenway. Note that the statues are not visible from Google street view, as they face west-southwest looking into Mother’s Rest. If we were to overlay the face of a clock onto the large circle in the image, then the “Sons of Ireland” would be located at twelve o’clock.
Furthermore, using the homophone of “son” as “sun”, we might think of this as an allusion to solar noon (i.e. when the sun is at twelve o’clock). However, we see a moon and star in the image which implies nighttime (and would make the interpretation of noon a paradox). But if we continue along this same train of thought – twelve o’clock at night is midnight – we get “midnight sun”. Midnight sun (when the sun is visible 24 hours a day) can only be seen from locations within 1 degree of latitude of the Arctic Circle, which defines a very narrow and specific geographical range. The author gives us a hint that this is the correct interpretation by the addition of the image of – 1° – immediately to the left of the Sons of Ireland. The “midnight sun” and 1° imagery also fall within the main circle of the image, which is consistent with a reference to the Arctic Circle. In short, the top of the circle can be read: “One degree, midnight sun, in the Arctic Circle”. For the purposes of this puzzle, the nordic countries of Iceland and Norway are included in this range. Think “Land of the midnight sun”.
A Drag Queen
Taking a closer look at the woman’s face, we can see that she is wearing the makeup of a drag queen. The classic drag queen look involves sculpted eyebrows, flared eyelashes and a distinct dark stroke of blush to promote the look of high cheekbones.
Getting back to the verse, the first two phrases of Verse 3 read:
If Thucydides is
North of Xenophon
Take five steps
In the area of his direction
This text alludes to Horace Walpole, and specifically a letter he wrote to Horace Mann in 1774: “The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at Boston, a Xenophon at New York.” While the text itself is significant in helping associate verse 3 to Boston, it is the author, Horace Walpole, that is the key to this piece of the puzzle. Horace Walpole is famous for coining the term “serendipity” for which he used to describe a fairy tale: “Three Princes of Serendip”. Note the “fairy tale” aspect (fairy reference #1).
Reviewing our hints thus far:
- We have a red-headed Christopher Columbus, along with the 2 other pieces of Columbus-related imagery.
- There is a strong reference to a location where there is a midnight sun.
- We have drag queen makeup, so we know this is actually a man.
- And we have the concept of serendipity.
Who is this person? Leif Erikson. Leif Erikson is the red-headed “Christopher Columbus” from the land of the midnight sun. He was the son of Erik the Red (he had red or reddish hair), sailed from Iceland (land of the midnight sun), and his voyage to, and subsequent discovery of, North America (Vinland as he referred to it) was one of the most serendipitous events in the recorded history of exploration. He was so serendipitous (for this, and other additional reasons) that he acquired the nickname “Leif the Lucky”. The kicker is that our search for Christopher Columbus was, in and of itself, serendipitous, as instead of finding Columbus we found Erikson. We should also note that the storyline behind these puzzles is about the journey of the “Fair” people from the Old World to the New World. It is no coincidence that this fair-skinned explorer, having discovered the New World himself, appears on the cover of the book.
But why is Leif Erikson portrayed as a drag queen? That is where we make the connection to a real place: The Leif Erikson statue in Charlesgate. Here is another link: publicartboston.com The statue is very effeminate with two large circular breastplates and chainmail that ends just above a mini-skirt. His right wrist wrests on his hip. It is certainly in stark contrast to how we normally think of norse explorers of the time.
This statue in Charlesgate is just yards away from the Massachusetts Turnpike. Below is the Leif Erikson statue with respect to our other landmarks. It can be seen as a small dark dimple in the image.
Once we make the connection to the Leif Erikson statue, the second phrase of the verse becomes clear:Finally, after all of that we can begin!
Take five steps
In the area of his direction
The Leif Erikson statue is purposely positioned facing west to represent his voyage westward. Five steps west from the Leif Erikson statue puts us on the curb of Charlesgate East.
From here we can see the path to our next location. The verse says:
A green tower of lights
In the middle section
Unlike the metaphorical and hidden nature of our starting location, this phrase is to be interpreted literally. As we walk up the on-ramp to the Bowker Overpass we can see the “Green Monster” at Fenway Park in the distance.
We are given a visual hint that this is part of our intended path by the image of the “CC” globe stand (again). Right around the time that we can see Fenway Park in the distance, if we look down over the side of the on-ramp we see Charlesgate Park below. The stone and concrete benches in Charlesgate Park match the “CC” shape in Columbus’ initials. This view and positioning of the “CC” globe/stand in the image is important with respect to our cardinal direction. We are currently walking south across the Bowker Overpass and this feature in Charlesgate Park matches the alignment in image 11 only if we are facing south and looking down. As a side note, I think the actual shape of these benches forms the initials “CG” for Charlesgate, but were tailored in the image to show “CC”. This is the northerly aligned google maps view for comparison.
The next phrase of the verse reads:
Who pass the coliseum
With metal walls
This phrase tells us to use the Bowker Overpass to cross over the Massachusetts Turnpike. The coliseum refers to Fenway Park, and ‘those with metal walls’ are the people (on the Turnpike) behind the metal walls of their cars. It could also mean that the coliseum itself has metal walls, and that we are walking near cars that have passed, or will pass Fenway Park on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Face the water
Your back to the stairs
Feel at home
The word “turnpike” is another word for a winding staircase. This definition comes from Sir Walter Scott, nonetheless, and is first written in The History of Scotland. Scott is a key reference in the NYC puzzle (Image 12). Searchers have been looking for a literal staircase that matches this phrase for years. However, this is wordplay. The reference is a homonym and not a literal staircase. Since we have just passed over the Massachusetts Turnpike, Preiss is telling us to face the water (Muddy River) with our back to the Massachusetts Turnpike. “Feel at home” refers to the song “Dirty Water” by the Standells. “Dirty Water” in this case is a metaphor for the Muddy River. The current intersection of the Bowker OverPass with Boylston Street is different than it existed in 1981. In those days it appears that a pedestrian would need to walk east along the street before being able to cross over (without jaywalking) near Mother’s Rest. This lines us up nicely with the Muddy River and Turnpike and it also takes us close to the Sons of Ireland statue mentioned earlier. I used the satellite imagery at historicaerials.com from 1971 as it is the most clear. However, the 1978 imagery also shows this layout.
All the letters
Are here to see
“All of the letters” in this case refers to the names of the footpaths through the Fenway Victory Gardens in Back Bay Fens. Each path is assigned a letter.
To the War Memorial
Paul Revere and the Old North Church
Lit by lamplight
I have three interpretations of this phrase, all involve Paul Revere, and are valid in my opinion. As with all things in this puzzle the correct ideas are shown in more than one way. The phrase itself refers to Paul Revere’s midnight ride, and alludes to the lamps lit in the Old North Church tower to signal the nature of the arrival of the incoming British army. “One if by land. Two if by sea.” There are four visual clues to let us know that we are to use the church tower in our solution. Let’s take a look at what the image has to offer in this regard. On the left side of the casque there is the profile of the domed tower of the First Church of Christ, Scientist as it is seen from this area of the Fens (credit – Bill Lentz). This is our first ‘church tower’ clue.
Second, there appears to be a bell hidden behind the main tower on the casque. This further reinforces the interpretation of a church tower, or in this case a ‘bell tower’. A third hint comes in the form of a shadow drawn on the woman’s right hand. This shadow resembles the shape of the brickwork on the front of the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum just southwest of the park. Isabella went by the nickname “Bell”, and we can see what appears to be the shape of a bell in the shadow (credit – Sarah Shalek).
In our fourth clue, I believe we are to use the name “Isabella” to mean ‘is a bell’, as the fairy herself resembles the shape of a swinging tower bell.
These four clues come together to be interpreted to mean ‘the hand that rings the bell in the church tower‘.
The lamps in the Old North Church were lit by the sexton of the church, Robert Newman. By definition a sexton is a member of the clergy whose duties include ringing the church tower bell. This is wordplay. Preiss is hoping we will connect “sexton” to “sextant” – as the overhead view of the George Robert White Fund Memorial – Veterans Memorial Park resembles the shape of a sextant. I will discuss this in the next section.
Paul Revere the Bellfounder and the Life Magazine D-Day Issue
The giant clue about bells is not just about the sexton and the tower of the Old North Church. Paul Revere himself (being a jack of many trades) was also a preeminent metallurgist and bellfounder. He built an iron and brass foundry in the North End in 1787. He went on to produce hundreds of high quality bronze bells (“Revere bells“) that were used around the country. It is no coincidence that our fairy resembles a bell, as this is an allusion to Paul Revere the bellfounder. However, there is another large but subtle clue in the image with regard to Paul Revere and his metalworks.
See the woman’s lips? They have always bothered me. They are off-center to her right. JJP was very precise, so if something is misaligned, it is a clue rather than a mistake. Her head is tilted slightly, but you can really see the offset of her lips when you look at her chin. Her lips are also slightly pursed. Why would her lips be to the right and slightly pursed? Well, lets take a look at her right hand. Her hand is in what appears to be a common shape for playing the trumpet (shown below). Notice the distinct spacing between the ring and pinky fingers. This concept is reinforced with the appearance of the note on the right side of the image. Knowing this, we can now say that her lips are an offset embouchure for a right handed trumpet player.
The major clue here is “brass”. Remember that Revere had a brass foundry from which he constructed bells? The fairy is a bell, and the woman is playing a brass instrument. Putting these two together we get Paul Revere again. But let’s take this a little further. Paul Revere was able to make quality brass and bronze because he discovered “the secret” of rolling copper. He used his foundry to aid in the war effort, casting metal for cannons and the navy. This particular quote about “the secret” of rolling copper is used in many publications (e.g. here, here, and here), and comes from Revere himself. But perhaps its most apropos usage is from the iconic Life Magazine 1945 June 12th issue that covers D-Day. The entire issue is about World War II. On page 7 of this issue there is an article called “In the Spirit of Paul Revere“, that describes his contributions to the American war effort. There is another on page 24 title “Why America is still the land of the plenty“. And an advertisement on page 26 titled “America’s Farmers are Fighting the Good Fight“. In our quest to find the casque we have just passed the Victory Garden’s, which were originally constructed to feed Americans during World War II. Our current hint is about Paul Revere (eighteenth day, twelfth hour) and our destination is… the World War II Memorial at the Veterans Memorial Park in Back Bay Fens.
Paul Revere’s Obelisk
The third interpretation regarding Paul Revere and lamplight may not refer to the midnight ride, but to an obelisk that Paul Revere built on Boston Common in 1766 to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act. The obelisk was illuminated from within by 280 oil lamps. The obelisk burned down when it caught fire from said lamps. This is a more obscure reference, but it could be that it is an allusion to the obelisk at the war memorial. In our next step we will be standing in front of the obelisk.
Now that we are at the war memorial, we must tie together several aspects of the puzzle to find our dig site. First, lets take a look at the imagery for the war memorial itself. The overhead view of the war memorial resembles that of a sextant, an instrument used for celestial navigation (sun, moon, stars) – credit Edmund Tannini. While there is no evidence that the sextant existed in the time of Columbus or Erikson, we do have a running theme of sea fairing explorers.
Furthermore, we see the moon, and either a star or a planet behind the woman. This suggests celestial navigation, and reinforces the interpretation of the use of the war memorial as a sextant. The profile of the woman’s head and hair against the blue (nighttime) background also match the overhead layout of the inner circle of the war memorial. We are supposed to gather that we are looking at the moon and star through the telescope lens of a sextant. And the center of the war memorial is our scope. That is, we are to use the inner circle of the war memorial as a line-of-sight guide to our dig site.
If we use the markers of the outer circle of Image 11 to align the celestial objects, and apply this to the layout of the war memorial, a path is revealed (shown below). It shows us that we are to use the path on the left, a westerly path, as a line-of-sight to our final location. I overalyed a 360 degree protractor on the image as there was some debate as to whether we were to use actual measurements in degrees. However, it is highly unlikely that Preiss used such exact measurements from an overhead perspective. I believe the intent was to simply draw lines through the celestial objects.
Note: I believe the celestial object next to the moon is the planet Venus. Venus (goddess of love) was portrayed with red hair in the iconic painting “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli, which is consistent with the hair color of the woman shown. We also see the moon next to this object. This limits our candidates to stars and planets that generally intersect the earth’s plane of orbit. It also exlcudes other well-known celestial objects like Polaris, “The North Star”, as the moon and Polaris are never in the same field of view.
The Rose Garden
Before I reveal our final location, we have a lot more information we can gather from the puzzle to assure us that our path is correct. We know we are to go west from the war memorial, which is in the general direction of the Kelleher Rose Garden. The keyhole shape of the garden itself is the largest piece of matching imagery in Image 11 comprising the overall shape of the painting.
Her skirt has another match to the rose garden – an ornate pattern of sections and squiggly lines which has previously been identified as being visually similar to stonework in the Kelleher Rose Garden (right). Looking closer at the design on her skirt (below), we see a distinct pattern used in tying a clove hitch – a type of knot (shown below). Taking this reference together with the uses of the Kelleher Rose Garden and all of the rest of the interwoven lines, we can interpret this to mean ‘tying the knot’ or ‘getting hitched’, as the Rose Garden, with its scenic setting, is a common place for weddings.
Further analysis of the pattern on the woman’s skirt reveals similarities with the overhead-views of the war memorial in the 70’s and 80’s. Note the clove-hitch pattern has a second use as it represents the shape of the hedgerows at the war memorial during this time period.
Please keep in mind that this is a photo from 1971, a full decade before the casque was buried. The 1978 photos of this location show the same features, but the resolution is very poor.
Continuing the analysis on the pattern on her dress against the 1971 satellite imagery, a map of the location at that time is revealed (shown below). Note that the mapping of these objects on the woman’s dress is not to scale or proportionately accurate. The objects’ placement is mostly accurate with respect to their relative position to each other. If JJP had painted an accurate-to-scale map of Image 11, this puzzle would have been solved long ago. However, the image obscures the map enough that it is really only visible to those that study the location. It is important to see that the location of the trees with respect to the walkway is consistent, as is the position of the mini-garden above the rose garden. The clove-hitch-styled hedgerow is not between any of the trees, but it does sit at the southeast corner.
- Rose-red: The large sphere in front of her right leg (to our left) represents the circular shape of the north end of the Kelleher Rose Garden.
- Blue: The right and upper borders of the pattern represent the concrete walkways/sidewalks.
- Green: We see several small leaf-like nodes hanging off of the lines/vines. These are elm leaves. Elm leaves are asymmetrical, obovate to ovate, abruptly pointed, and toothed. There are other trees in the area but Preiss has labeled the elm trees for us in the map.
- Darker Green: The top-most leaf/node on the map is outside of the border. It represents an elm tree that stood on the north-side of the sidewalk, near the street. It has since been cut down.
- Orange: In the top left corner of the pattern on her dress there is a small circle with a line going through it. This represents a small garden patch just north of the Kelleher Rose Garden.
Many of these features still exist today.
The symbols running downward along the sides of her skirt are also part of a map of the surrounding area. The most ostensible are the double ‘A’ shape, which represents the shape of the walkways west of the Kelleher Rose Garden. Along with the two checkerboard patterns representing the bridges across the Muddy River to the southeast and southwest of the KRG. Below is a complete interpretation of these symbols with an associated legend.
Two other elements of the image are part of the map. The semi-transparent rectangular sheet at the bottom of the image is a sheet of glass. This represents the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston after the Glassell School of Art in Houston (glass for Glassell). The Glassell is the solution to the first phrase of the verse in the Houston puzzle. The globe resting on a bridge in the bottom right corner represents the Agassiz Road Bridge named after Louis Agassiz, geologist and Earth natural scientist.
Metaphors and Symbolism
In Truth Be Free
The last phrase of Verse 3 “In Truth Be Free” identifies the dig site. This too has layered meaning. First, lets look at the fairy flying away from the box. She has been identified as representing “Faith” In the painting The Red Cross Knight by John Singleton Copley (fairy reference #2). This is a depiction of a scene from the epic poem The Faerie Queene by Sir Edmund Spenser. The Red Cross Knight himself represents “Truth” (truth reference #1), while the other woman, in blue, represents “Hope”. With respect to Image 11, Faith (the fairy) is flying away from the box as if she is being freed. The overall keyhole shape of Image 11 reinforces the verse, in that the keyhole shape represents a lock. In essence, Truth (the knight) unlocks the box that sets Faith (the fairy) free.
There is an allusion to a second story embedded here. In the story of Pandora’s Box all of the evil flies out of the box leaving only Hope inside (fairy, albeit indirect, reference #3). If we have already made the connection to Faith through The Red Cross Knight, then it is noteworthy that the character Hope is not seen in the image. We might think of Hope as still inside the box. As such, the image of the casque itself is a reference to Pandora’s Box. I think the illustration of the woman opening the box, and the light emanating from within, illustrate this conclusion.
The box itself has the same squiggly/knot pattern as the one that appears on her skirt. We can assume that this pattern represents marriage (or a place where people get married). To the right of the knot we see a castle with the sun peaking out over the top right (north northeast). The castle itself has been identified as a reference to The Castle at Park Plaza, while the sun has been identified as the circular pattern in the walkways of Statler Park – across the street to the northeast. If we look at a map of the area and attempt to line up The Castle and Statler Park where Statler Park appears just over the Castle to the north northeast, we see that these locations align on Columbus Ave. From this vantage point, the knot pattern aligns with the Boston Public Gardens. This makes sense, as it, along with the Kelleher Rose Garden, are two of the top public wedding venues in Boston. In the image below the left section marked ‘A’ is a color coded image of the box. The middle section ‘B’ is the colored box being held by the woman. And ‘C’ is a color coded map of the area. The colors represent the matching elements between each section. See the legend below.
- Bright green: The squiggly lines, representing Boston Public Gardens (where people get married).
- Blue: The castle, representing the Castle at Park Plaza.
- Yellow: The sun, representing Statler Park.
- Red: The woman, representing Columbus Ave, our vantage point to align these locations.
The woman herself (our red-headed Columbus) represents the Columbus Ave vantage point which we are to use as our “north”.
What is she pointing at?
If we look closely, the woman’s left index finger is pointing at part of the knot on the box. It appears to be at the lower region of the box, which would represent the lower region of the Boston Public Gardens from our vantage point. The most prominent feature in this area of the gardens is the George Washington monument.
Taking this into consideration we look for clues that this in indeed a reference to George Washington. A closer inspection of the squiggly knot shows a distinct pretzel shape just above the woman’s fingertip. This shape is a representation of George Washington’s signature. The image below shows the highlighted area of the knot that doubles as the ‘G’ in Washington’s signature. Note the distinct and recognizable pretzel shape at the base of the G. Keep in mind that this was a very small portion of Image 11, and I have increased the size 500% to highlight this feature.
The Washington Elm
There is a second visual indication of George Washington in the image. If we examine the perched falcon, we find the bird’s shape matches the the roads and sidewalks around Flagstaff Park, Cambridge Common, and Massachusetts Ave. The pig outline is to identify Harvard’s Pig Club which is right at the base of the bird in the profile of its claw. The Pig Club (Porcelain Club) is located at 1324 Massachusetts Ave. The ‘T’ is the Red Line Terminal nearby. The square table top is Harvard Square. The bubble is the circular Revolutionary War memorial next to the Washington Elm. The bird’s tail splits at the end just like Mass. Ave splits in two. There is also a tunnel that goes down underground in Flagstaff Park. The long straight feather in the birds tail is similar to the shape of the road as it goes into the tunnel.
The Washington Elm in and of itself does not really stand as a hint for this puzzle. But! The Washington Elm was first popularized by the American writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow wrote Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, The Masque of Pandora, and The Evening Star. These three stories are all major pieces of this puzzle. So by placing a bubble in the image that represents the area adjacent to the Washington Elm, Preiss is hoping we will make the connection between Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the Washington Elm, and the themes of this puzzle. That is how we know this is a critical hint. This hint also ties George Washington to a tree, which will come into play later. There are elm leaves in the map on her skirt as well.
The Sheraton Commander
Just north of the Washington Elm is the Sheraton Commander. Its large sign can be seen from all around Cambridge Common, and is very visible from the Washington Elm.
The Sheraton Commander was named after the event in which George Washington took command of the American army under the elm tree. So George Washington is the “commander” that it is referring to. Knowing this we look to the image to see if we can find something referencing this iconic location. In image 11 at about 7 o’clock in the main circle there is some hidden writing. We can make out “SHE” and “CAMBR” for “Sheraton Cambridge”
I realize that this is very hard to read, and for about 3 years I thought it was gibberish. However, as the pieces started to fall into place with George Washington and the Washington Elm I have recently realized this was also part of the map around Cambridge Common.
Taking everything into account:
- The sextant at the war memorial, and the line-of-sight perspective from the war memorial itself
- The map of the area west of the war memorial on her skirt
- The contextual map of the elements around the Kelleher Rose Garden
- Pandora’s Box
- George Washington’s pretzel shaped ‘G’ signature used in Boston Public Gardens
- The Washington Elm in Cambridge Common
- The Sheraton Commander (named after Washington) in Cambridge Common
- “In Truth be Free” Truth is needed to solve the puzzle
We find that our dig site is a cherry tree of the species Prunus ‘Pandora’*, which is visible directly after the westerly concrete walkway from the war memorial. Why a cherry? There is the old myth about Washington and the cherry tree. The story goes that Washington, as a boy, chopped down a cherry tree. When confronted by his father Washington said: “I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet” (truth reference #2). Instead of punishing Washington, his father praised him for telling the truth. The phrase “in truth be free.” is also a line in the song Ode on Washington’s Birthday “Let our land in truth be free.” (truth reference #3). Furthermore, Washington D.C. is well known for its cherry blossoms in the Spring.
Both George Washington and the story of his cherry tree are in the book. They are in the chapter about “Devil Dogs”. The relevant text is below (credit: Bill Lentz)
When George Washington was inaugurated, all the nearby fairies invited each other to attend—except the Sugar Plum Fairy. The attendant good spirits wished George luck and courage and truthfulness—but then the enraged and unwanted Sugar Plum Fairy appeared, cursed President George and all Americans with a sweet tooth, and set a pack of Devil Dogs upon them, to hound them forever. (As a boy, Washington, overcome with sugar-lust, ate all the cherries from a tree in his backyard. This, naturally, rotted the teeth out of his noble head, but the resourceful lad then chopped down the tree, to fashion from it the wooden false teeth for which he is famous. The rest is history.)
*Note I am still waiting on confirmation that the cherry tree is of this species. Prunus Pandora were widely planted as ornamental cherry trees on streets and in parks in the past. Nowadays, they have been replaced by other cultivars, but the age of this tree is at least 47 years old, and lends it to being within the time period that they were popular. I will update this post when I get confirmation.
The tree can bee seen below in the 1971 view from historicaerials.com
John Simmons and The Simmons College
We have made it this far, found Leif Erikson, crossed the Turnpike, passed the Victory Gardens, decoded the use of the war memorial, and found the tree. But there is so much more. The box/casque the women is holding has two more meanings embedded in it. If we look at the tower and castle, they are strikingly similar to the Emmanuel College field house and the tower of Simmons College when one is standing in front of the field house and looking west – credit Bill Lentz. Notice how the tower is just offset to the left.
The tower at Simmons College on its own is not significant. It is the founder of the college, John Simmons that is the hint. He made his fortune in the 1800s manufacturing ready-to-wear clothing. Making clothing of standard sizes was a new concept at the time, and while he originally manufactured suits for men he realized he could make ready-to-wear clothing for women. Upon his death he willed his wealth to found Simmons College – a university for women. He believe in empowering women through education so that they could live an “independent livelihood”. So when we think about John Simmons with regard to this puzzle we might think of practical women’s clothing. I will tie this back in in just a moment.
John Simmons (the founder 1796-1870) had a contemporary namesake (John Simmons 1823-1876) a British man famous for painting “ethereal fairyland scenes, often illustrating Shakespearian or other literary works” (fairy reference #4). His work was influenced by Edmund Spencer’s “The Faerie Queene” – already a critical piece of this puzzle. This brings us full circle back to the fairy. We have just made the connection between the Simmons College tower on the casque, John Simmons (the founder) and John Simmons the fairy painter. To validate this connection we take a closer look at what the fairy is wearing. Remember that John Simmons (the founder) made ready-to-wear women’s clothing. The fairy’s dress is a single piece, plain white summer dress. It is not ornate or flashy.
I do not know if the women in this photograph are wearing clothes designed by John Simmons. It is unlikely since the college was constructed some 30 years after his death due to a fire that destroyed much of the properties that he willed for the college’s payment. However, I think this photo serves well to illustrate the simplicity of the fairy’s garb, and to prove that Preiss intended for us to make this connection.
Four in the leaves
So why are John Simmons and the fairy so important? Because the seal of Simmons College is to be used to find the correct vantage point on our cherry tree. The seal features a tree (representing the tree of life) with several distinct branches in it. Our cherry tree has the same structure if we look at it facing west (shown below). Note the distinct fork in the trunk, and a second fork in the main branch on the left. There is also an arched branch that matches a branch in the cherry tree (yellow). Whats more is that this main branch and arch are represented in image 11 in the top right corner. There is also a “four” shape just below this arch in image 11. This “four” shape can only be seen when we are on the correct line-of-sight to recover the casque. Looking for reinforcement of this concept, we look to the puzzle. We know that the fairy represents John Simmons, and John Simmons represents Simmons College, and the Simmons College seal represents our tree. So transitively speaking, our fairy represents our tree. Notice the four-leaf clover in her wing? The “four leaf” clover can be interpreted to mean “four in the leaves.”
In the photo above multiple different concepts come together to show us a single view of our tree. The tree in the background is a specific tree that creates this alignment as the base of the “four”. The image gives us a hint as to which tree we are to us by identifying the 4 trees at the top of the rose garden as lines. The arched line on the top right of the image is bolded. This lets us know to use the second tree on the right from the top of the KRG. The tree in the background is also a cherry tree. There is a second tree that can form the stem of the “four”. It is the third tree counting clockwise from the top of the KRG. However, Preiss shows us a logical not symbol next to the line that would represent that tree, which tells us “not” to use it.
Another hint to use visual alignment is hidden in the loops on her skirt. If we “thread the needle” through the loops around the cursive ‘C’ for cherry we can interpret our visual alignment from the cherry tree to the other tree on the perimeter of the rose garden. In this particular example the moon can represent either the cherry tree itself or the top circle of the rose garden. The star (or planet) is the casque. In the New Orleans puzzle the tree near the casque is represented as the moon.
Feel at Home
We have a line-of-sight but what are we missing? A distance measurement. For us to gather this information we have to look (yet again) at the box/casque she is holding. Check out her fingers. They are positioned as if she is measuring something. If we take the GW pretzel to represent George Washington and the Emmanuel College field house to simply represent a “field house” we can determine the distance on this line-of-sight with the following logic:
- George Washington was a “field” marshal. This, by definition, is the highest ranking officer of an army, even above other generals. He was posthumously promoted to a rank of 6 star general so no other person will ever outrank him.
- Field is a synonym for combat. For example: “field artillery” and “field marshal”. We also have terms like “field of battle”. All of these relate to war.
- Essentially, by using the position of her index finger and thumb we are to place George Washington in the ‘war house’.
- George Washington lived in, and planned his field operations from his headquarters in Cambridge during the Revolutionary War.
- Today we know this location as the Washington Headquarters, or the Longfellow House. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived in this house several decades after the revolution. Here is where Longfellow finally makes his debut, not just as a theme, but a linchpin piece of the puzzle.
- Washington lived in, and operated from this house for 9 months.
The “four” in the image also doubles as a “nine”
Ok, 9 what? feet or yards? I see a foot in the image just above and to the right of the 9. This is extremely faint. I inverted the color scheme and tried to enhance the image here. If you really zoom in on the shape, you can see that JJP traced a line around it. Don’t look so much at the dark areas at the top but the distinct pencil-thin line that forms the shape of the foot. I can see this without enhancement, but I am colorblind, and in some cases I can see things that color normal people cannot. This might be one of those things like the photo of the blue and brown dress that circulated the internet 😉
9 feet from the tree, while we see the “four in the leaves”.
As with everything in this puzzle, the correct interpretation is reinforced. The 9 feet can also be seen in the puzzle in her sleeves. If we look at the shadow below her left sleeve (shown below) it looks like a shadow of her left hand holding the casque, except it is reversed. This implies that we need to reverse (or flip) the image to see the actual meaning of the shadows. When flipped we can read the hidden message. There is a ‘9’ next to the fairy’s feet in her sleeve. And just above that ‘9’ are two feet that are hidden in the folds near her shoulder. Below the ‘9’ character is a sphere. Spheres are used throughout this puzzle, but in this case the sphere represents our the ‘field house’ or ‘home’ (since that is where her thumb is in the non-shadow version).
Furthermore there are directions for us to measure the distance also hidden in the shadows on the woman’s dress. Just under her left breast is a shadow of a right triangle. The shadow arches to a point just over her left shoulder. This arch looks very familiar. Following the arch down we see that it intersects the ‘4’ in her bracelet. This line in the shadow is our arched branch above the ‘four in the leaves’. This tells us that we need to triangulate the tree and the ‘four in the leaves’ branch at a distance of 9 feet from the tree. A second clue of this nature is on the band of her right sleeve. We see what appears to be a triangle partially obscured by her forearm. I believe this is to be interpreted as ‘right arm triangle’ or simply ‘right angle’. We must make our measurements with the right angle to triangulate the ‘four in the leaves’ and our tree.
Bow-vine Yard as Depth
Preiss also hid information about the depth of the casque in the image. If we look closely at the map on her skirt again we see three squares and vines. We know that Preiss originally said that the casques were buried up to 3 feet underground, but later revised it to 3 and a half. If we take the 3 squares as representing feet, then we can say that the whole container is 3 feet or a yard. When we add in the fact that this yard contains vines, we get “vineyard“! Combining this with our clue about George Washington and we get the “Washington Vineyard”. The Washington Vineyard is a garden at the Washington estate in Mount Vernon. Washington setup a garden divided in to four squares. Three of the squares were dedicated to growing fruit, vegetables, and trees. But the fourth square was used to cultivate hedgerows as a natural barrier for animals. Washington wanted to create a cultivar of shrub that could be used to contain livestock. The image reinforces this idea. We see a bow in the vines. This is to be interpreted as “bow-vine” or “bovine” (as in cattle). If we use “bovine” and “yard” together we get “bovine-yard” or “stockyard“. In total, these squares are the square vineyard plots that Washington used to grow hedgerows for stockyards. We know this to be the correct interpretation because the hedgerows at the war memorial used to be shaped like bows! (bow-vine hedgerows) The pattern, and most important part here, is the word “yard” We are to use this to measure depth.
If we take the glare of the reflection on the globe to be the casque, then it is buried about 2.5 feet down. There is a small flat rock near the surface to help us with locating the final spot while digging.
Combining to “marry” our themes of immigration, George Washington and John Simmons together we can continue to thread the needle through the loops to get an image of a seahorse. George Washington’s great grandfather immigrated to America on a ship called the Seahorse of London. Seahorses have 36 square segments in their tales. This is to be used to identify the casque as 36 inches (one yard, 3 fee) below the surface.
Meanings and Themes
The verse itself has another secret – many of the lines in the poem have double meanings which can be used to both help decode the verse and to find the casque. This is Preiss’ craftsmanship at its best. The verse is deep, and it is beautiful. Here are the ones that have been identified, most by Sarah Shalek:
- All of the letters are here to see. The letters mean written letters from one person to another. “Here” is the Boston Athenaeum. The historical letters of New England are stored there. E.g. the letter between Horace Mann and Horace Walpole. “If Thucydides is north of Xenophon …” Thucydides and Xenophon were Athenians. Preiss uses two Athenians and “All the letters are here to see” to reference the place where these can be found. The Athenaeum (after Athens, Greece).
- Twelfth hour. Twelfth hour can be used to decipher the use of the “sons” at twelve o’clock, i.e. midnight sun.
- Eighteenth day, twelfth hour. 18 + 12 = 30. The casque is buried 30 inches or 2.5 feet down.
- Near those who pass the coliseum with metal walls. Here we start to use the verse to help identify where the casque is buried. The coliseum with metal walls is the concrete wall at the war memorial. It has bronze (metal) plates that list the names of those who have passed (fallen) in war. (S.Shalek)
- A green tower of lights in the middle section. This is the Simmons College tower just over the middle section of the Emmanuel College field house. TBD if green? Green could reference emerald in the Emerald Necklace, so it may be metaphorical here. (S.Shalek)
- Feel at home. This is to help us put George Washington “at home” in the Longfellow House (field house). The Sheraton Commander Hotel is another hint in this regard – to feel “at home” in the hotel. (S.Shalek)
- Take five steps in the area of his direction. John Simmons is our fairy/tree. Five steps from the tree or approximately 9 feet. I measured out 5 of my own steps (casual walking paces not full strides) on the floor with a tape measurer, it was extremely close to 9 feet, just 3 or 4 inches short. Mileage may vary with people of different heights.
- Lit by lamplight. The casque location is literally lit by lamplight (there is a street light right there). (S.Shalek)
Anti-Slavery and Human Rights Theme
The Secret has a heavy human rights and anti-slavery theme. The Boston puzzle is no different. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an outspoken abolitionist. George Washington himself shared anti-slavery sentiments, and while he owned slaves, he asked that his slaves be freed upon his death. Furthermore, if we mean to talk about truth and slavery, as this puzzle suggests, then it should be noted that the truth about Christopher Columbus was that he was not the first to discover America, but he was, in fact, a slave trader. He introduced the slave trade to these continents. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the puzzle’s solution involves Leif Erikson, as it is almost a snub against Columbus.
There is another obscure story in this puzzle – the story of Scanderbeg/Iskander. It too is in Longfellow’s Tales From a Wayside Inn from which 4 of the other stories are featured. It is about an Albanian boy named Scanderbeg who was captured by the Turks, forced to convert to Islam, and enslaved as a child soldier to the sultan and Ottoman Empire. Later, Scanderbeg having been trained in military tactics, betrays the Turks, switches sides back to his native land, and drives the Turks from his country. There is a faint image of what appears to be a man in a turban with a mustache in the bottom left corner of the image. I think this is the Turkish sultan and a clue for the story of Scanderbeg.
If this is indeed the Turkish sultan, then the story of Scanderbeg does two things for the puzzle. First, it fits the theme of people that triumphed over oppression and slavery. Second, Scanderbeg could be a hint for our Scandinavian – Leif Erikson. The story of Scanderbeg is being told to a group of men, one of whom is called “The Musician” whose tale involves Norse mythology and vikings. In the image, the sultan’s face is positioned over another man’s face that has a beard and long hair. This might be a viking.
Finally, we come to John Simmons who was a women’s champion. Not only were his ideas progressive for the time, but he aimed to truly make women’s lives better. Be it through practical clothing or college level education. Preiss is making a very specific point in his puzzles, all of which have an underlying theme of slavery, oppression, human rights, and the men and women who triumphed over them.
To Edmund Tannini for help with the sextant and Paul Revere in the early days. Michael Montilla for early discoveries of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and anti-slavery connection. Bill Lentz for boots on the ground, exhaustive photo shoot, new evidence of the field house and Simmons tower, the domed church, and open collaboration. And Sarah Shalek, for the Isabella Gardiner connection, alternate/reinforcing interpretations of the poem, and gentle push to get me to Boston.
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