A (Love) Story for the History Books

5/7/2001

 A word of advice for people attending the wedding of Sara Leavitt and Barry Goldberg: bring along your walking shoes.

Yes, there is a unique path to this special love story. You see, on the evening of Saturday, May 12th, Leavitt and Goldberg will exchange vows and become husband and wife. However, earlier in the day, they have invited all of their guests to trade in their dress shoes for sneakers and join them on an historical tour of Boston.

"We thought it would be a fun thing to do," said Leavitt, a junior English major at Suffolk University and an employee of Suffolk University Law School. "My dad, who died six months before I met Barry, was a historian, so I grew up with history. While other kids went on a family vacation to Disney World, my family and I would go to Plymouth Plantation and The Smithsonian."

"It made sense because history is such a powerful theme in each of our lives," said Goldberg, who graduated from Suffolk with a degree in history a year ago. "I felt it was a great idea because Boston has so much to offer."

The romance began in the summer of 1999. That's when Leavitt and Goldberg, both Suffolk transfer students, first met during a history course, entitled "Boston: Heritage of a City."

"Since I taught the class in the summer, and since Suffolk is right in the heart of the city, I thought it would be foolish to sit inside a classroom and talk about Boston's history," explained Suffolk University history professor Bob Allison. "It is much more engaging to get out and see the sites we talk about, so the course involved a lot of walking to the Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, the Boston Common, the Back Bay and some longer field trips to Charlestown, Roxbury and South Boston. Boston is not a time capsule, but has many layers to its history."

The weather was beautiful, the walks memorable. On each occasion, Leavitt and Goldberg, who now live in Newton, tended to stay in front of the group. They would always ask questions and offer comments about the various sites that they would visit.

They shared their first cup of coffee under a tree in Boston Common. During the next few months, they fell in love with the history of the city. And each other.

On November 28, 2000, Goldberg turned 37 years old. Leavitt, who turned 37 five days earlier, handed him a birthday card with the words "Will You Marry Me?" inscribed inside. "I was so happy and excited that I was speechless," said Goldberg.

During the interview, he puts his arm around Leavitt. "Make sure you mention that she proposed to me," he laughed.

Do these two Suffolk sweethearts and history buffs plan to honeymoon on Beacon Hill? Not exactly. "We're going to Paris," said Leavitt with a smile.

When they approached Professor Allison with the idea of him giving their family and friends a tour on their wedding day, he was ecstatic. "In a historian's wildest dreams, he would not imagine a couple asking him to give a lecture at their wedding," said Allison, who also serves the role of archivist at Suffolk University. "I thought it was a wonderful gesture and I'm looking forward to Sara and Barry's wedding day."

The historical journey will begin at 10:30 a.m. and finish about two hours later. Allison will lead Leavitt, Goldberg and their inquisitive guests on a tour of the Marriot Custom House Tower, which has a spectacular view of the city, the Old State House, Faneuil Hall and the Granary Burying Ground.

Said Allison, "The last spot may seem a bit morbid, but the symbols on its gates the hour-glasses with wings remind us that life is short and to do with it all we can."

Following the tour, a picnic lunch is scheduled in the Public Gardens. From there, everyone will hurry back and prepare for the wedding and reception at the home of Goldberg's father in Brookline. Goldberg's mother will conduct the ceremony after being qualified as a "Justice of the Peace" for one day.

Hopefully, everyone will make the wedding on time. And not forget to change their shoes.

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