A few years ago I learned that there was another Winston Churchill, an American. At one time this Missourian was as famous as his English namesake.
The Englishman kept getting confused with the American, who was two years his senior. He wrote to the American in 1899 and told him that he would stop the confusion by signing himself forevermore as “Winston S. Churchill.”
The two met in Boston in December 17, 1900.
I had always been a fan of the English Churchill. The more I read about him, the more I became fascinated. I joined the Churchill Society, so I could learn more and receive its excellent quarterly journal, Finest Hour.
What if the 1900 visit contained a little adventure for both Winstons?
That became the premise of the book. But what kind of adventure could I plunk them into that would be plausible?
Boston always cast a spell on me. I loved its history. In the Boston Navy Yard was berthed the most famous American warship, the U.S.S. Constitution. Okay, I’d toss in the Constitution.
Irish history is another interest. Under Dr. Gerry Burke I took two courses about Irish history at Boston State College. I was enthralled. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, also known as Fenians, sparked an interest in these diehards. Where could I place them in this story?
Another favorite subject of mine is the Civil War. Massachusetts raised two Irish regiments, the 9th and the 28th. Both fought with distinction throughout the Potomac theater.
A Ryan relative, John Holland, served in the Union Army. Another John Holland invented the modern submarine. Okay, I’ll put the Holland sub into the book.
Another Boston landmark I enjoy is Fort Warren on George’s Island, once considered the centerpiece of the city’s naval defenses. For years I had walked around Fort Independence on Castle Island in South Boston. As a kid, I imagined the fort raking British men-of-war in the Revolutionary War. I thought it was huge with high concrete walls. After taking the 45-minute boat ride to George’s Island, Fort Independence shrunk to a minature compared to Fort Warren
Fort Warren seemed to suck up every inch of space on George’s Island. What a view from its walls! Boston Light, the South Shore, the Boston skyline, the Atlantic Ocean. Although Fort Warren stood proud in four wars, it never came under fire. Yes, it housed Conferderate prisoners and was supposed to be haunted by the Lady in Black..
Add Fort Warren to the story. Now I had the two Winston Churchills, Old Ironsides, the Civil War, Irish revolutionaries, and a submarine. The result of this porridge is Boston-Baked Churchill. Hope you like it.