When Helen Keller was in Boston, she had the opportunity to visit nearby Plymouth. She was overall excited to be there, but reports a mixed experience. On the positive side, to get there she took her first trip on the ocean, traveling to Plymouth by steamboat. At the same time, she mistakenly thought the "rumble" of the steamboat's machinery was thunder, and so she started to cry, because she was worried that a planned picnic would be rained out.
In recalling the visit to Plymouth, she contrasts her childhood experience with her adult perspective. As a child, she enjoyed touching Plymouth Rock because it made the achievements of the Pilgrims more real to her. She had an idealized view of them as brave and good people who wanted to bring freedom to everyone. As an adult, however, that childhood adulation was tempered by knowledge of their "acts of persecution," which made her "tingle" with shame even as she remembered "the courage and energy that gave us our 'Country Beautiful.'"