So we walk the Freedom Trail. Our first stop is the Granary Burying Ground, home to dead people, some of them quite famous (Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Peter Faneuil). Wandering through the dappled cool, we come to John Hancock's grave.

I begin a parental history lesson, which Graham finishes for me.

"He signed the Declaration of Independ­ence," he states matter-of-factly.

"How do you know that?" I ask.

"Dad, I've known that since the second grade."

Still, my brief account of history seems to have had an effect.

Graham bends to peer intently at another grave. I am touched by his interest.

"Look!" he says. "A ladybug!"

Unofficially established in 1625 with the arrival of William Blaxton, Boston is a town of many firsts. We stroll past the first public school - the Boston Latin School, founded 1635 - continuing on until we arrive at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.

As it was in the 1700s, Quincy Market remains a fun and lively place and a wonder of entrepreneurial commerce. We don't pose with the gargoyle or buy any of the innumerable T-shirts, but we do buy a small wooden schooner because it has historical roots in this nautical town.

We have lunch at Cheers. Exhibiting their place in history, the boys have never heard of the show.

While we were at the Prudential Center we booked an afternoon Boston Duck Tour. We drop back down into the subway, and Cullen ably steers us back to the Prudential Center where the Ducks depart. Ducks, for the uninitiated, are lumbering land-and-water vehicle-boats that make the ultimate tour vessel.

If the Army ever mounts an amphibious attack on Boston, no one will notice. Ducks are everywhere, cornering clunkily around city blocks, their drivers maintaining an incessant patter of facts, which they interrupt occasionally to instruct their passengers to quack like ducks.