The Bluecoats: Patriots Past and Present

Patriots’ Day offers us a chance to reflect on heroism, on sacrifices large and small, those historic and contemporary, and those made by Revolutionary soldiers and those by star football players. I am of course thinking of our own New England Patriots. One of their former stars showed kindness and concern for me in a time of great need last year, and I want to take a moment to tell you about how I plan to “pay it forward” here at AAS.

As bad as it looks, we were luckily fine.
As bad as it looks, we were luckily fine.

On a lovely spring afternoon last May, I found myself in Providence, Rhode Island. One of AAS’s brilliant scholars had just given a talk at Brown University. The event had been a success, and the speaker and I were merrily making our way along 95 en route to a dinner party in Central Falls to celebrate. As we turned off the highway, a car, going about 90mph, hit us from behind. I will spare the details, except to say that ultimately, we were fine—after the car spun around a few times, the driver fled from the scene, and we coped with our shock —we really were fine.

I can only imagine how the accident must have looked to those driving by. A few good Samaritans stopped to see if we were alright, and a few even tried to track down the driver who had fled the scene. In addition to some lovely women who hugged me and told me that everything was okay, There was a hulking figure who also offered us reassurances. He brought me a bottle of water, and when the ambulance arrived and these good people started to disperse, he placed a large jacket around my shaking shoulders. I looked up at him and thanked him, but told him that surely, I could not take his coat. He responded with a sideways smile, “That’s alright, honey. I’ve got plenty more where that came from.”

I thanked him again, and he was on his way. Before I even had a chance to look at the jacket, the lady next to me said, “You know who that is right?” I looked at her in my befuddled state, and she responded, “That’s Joe Andruzzi!  You know, THE PATRIOT!” I looked down and realized that I was covered in an oversized team warm-up jacket.

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The jacket Joe Andruzzi gave me on the scene, which is now being raffled off!

Though far too big for me to wear, this jacket has been a constant reminder of a random act of kindness bestowed on me by a complete stranger. A week or so after the incident, I wrote a letter and made a modest donation to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, recounting the story and thanking Andruzzi profusely for his generosity and benevolence that afternoon. I am now ready to pass this jacket—and all the heroism is symbolizes—on, and I can’t think of any better way to do so than at our Adopt-a-Book silent auction.

On May 5, 2015, AAS will be holding its 8th Annual Adopt-a-Book evening in Antiquarian Hall in Worcester.  At this popular event we invite our guests to come see some recent acquisitions, help us with our fundraising efforts by “adopting” a book, print, newspaper or manuscript, chat with curators and AAS members, and hear about current research activities going on at the library.  For the past several years the Society has also held a raffle and a silent auction during the Adopt-a-Book evening to help raise funds for library acquisitions of historic material. The raffle has included modern books and AAS swag (tote bags, holiday cards, baseball caps).  The silent auction has featured framed reproductions based on our print and map collections and the retired reading room chairs from ca. 1912.  And this year, we are happy to offer Joe Andruzzi’s Patriots jacket at the silent auction. Please come and bid on it: make this Patriot’s jacket become part of another great patriot cause: preserving the nation’s history.

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Molly O'Hagan Hardy

Molly O’Hagan Hardy is AAS Director of Digital and Book History Initiatives. She shares news on digitization and cataloging efforts at AAS, coverage of digital humanities projects using AAS materials, and ideas for such projects. Stay current with all things DH at AAS by checking out the “Digital AAS” section of our website.

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