Summer ’86: Part XXVIII

I headed northeast out of The City on one of the many “parkways” that were proposed and constructed in the 1940s and 50s in the New York City boroughs under the auspice of the powerful City Works Administrator, Robert Mosses.  I crossed the state line into Connecticut where New England in late September greeted me with splendiferous colors of fall foliage.  Just south of Hartford I looked up another transplanted friend, a one John Parker who I had worked with at H & H Architects in Dallas. I had a great time with the him and his wife Sally, but when I told them I was on my way to Boston to see the Red Sox take on the California Angels for the American League Pennant, John was absolutely beside himself with envy.  I wanted to console him by asking him to accompany me, but I had to explain that I had plans to continue on north to see a friend in Maine.  Besides, he said it would be difficult for him to take off work for a week.  I spent a cool comfortable night parked in their driveway in Ol’ Blue.

I continued on my northeast passage until finally merging with the Mass Pike that led me into the heart of America’s “Cradle of Civilization”.  By hook and crook I somehow managed to locate a convenient hotel near the Harvard campus appropriately named the Cambridge Inn just across the Charles River from downtown with ample parking spaces in which to spend an overnight   And as a bonus there was a trolley stop adjacent to the parking lot.  That was my ticket to the “Field of Dreams”.  I spent another comfortable cool night in Ol’ Blue.

The next afternoon I boarded the trolley and headed to Fenway Park in wild anticipation of actually seeing Fenway Park in person for the very first time.  I walked the short distance from the trolley stop to the front gate to purchase a ticket in the right field bleachers. What astounded me most was the ballpark’s unimposing façade that seemed to blend in with the rest of the streetscape with its two-story red brick exterior punctuated by antiquated office-type windows.  The whole ambience was in stark contrast to the Angel’s Anaheim ballpark that was completely surrounded by asphalt parking so typical of the California mentality.

I’ll never forget walking up the ramp into the opening and seeing the lush-green outfield grass, the dirt-brown infield, and the fabled 35-foot high wall known as the “Green Monster” out in left field.  I sat in awe at the spectacle unfolding before me even though it was just a baseball game.  But it was more than that since I was having a once in a lifetime experience – being there! I turned to a gentleman next to me and said, “I’ve just driven 1,800 miles from Dallas to be sitting here. I was 11 years old in 1949 when I adopted the Red Sox as my team and Ted Williams as my idol.  This is the greatest.”  He replied rather intuitively, “This must be a once in a lifetime experience for you. You deserve being here.”  That made my day.

I was able to take in two more games before heading northeast to visit another old friend from Dallas days in the 60s and 70s. I exited I-95 onto several Maine state roads near Augusta and finally found the little burg of Vienna (pronounced Vianna).  I easily located the Thompson residence and found friend Dodi waiting for me on the front steps.  The house was a two-story 130 year-old wood structure that was an inheritance from her husband’s father.  Although there was electricity available, water had to be pumped in from an on-site well and heating was supplied by a cast-iron coal-burning furnace in the basement appropriately named “The All-Nighter”.  Hubby Bill later joined us for dinner which consisted of my contraband Wolf Brand Chili that Dodi so sorely missed from her days in Texas. She was eternally grateful for my smuggling act.  They offered me an inside bed, but I opted to spend a chilly but comfortable night in Ol’ Blue.

After a great home-cooked breakfast, I gave Dodi a big hug and took off westward through New England where the once glorious autumn leaves were now mostly just ground cover.  I wasn’t really discouraged since I knew I was headed in the general direction of the southward movement of the peak fall foliage. My timing couldn’t have been better.  As I motored through Pennsylvania, southern Ohio and Indiana, sure enough, the deciduous trees were again ablaze.  As I said earlier, this was to be an abbreviated account, so I won’t go into details about the return trip.  There were no visits along the way back, just a lot of fond memories, especially the ones of Fenway Park.

The autumnal spectacle was still in full color as I drove west by southwest through southern Illinois and Missouri.  As I crossed the state line into Oklahoma it was becoming obvious that I was outrunning the peak fall foliage line. Never mind, I felt very fortunate having driven more than 1,000 miles through a most colorful Midwest.  Rand McNally himself couldn’t have planned it better.  Here’s an interesting fact: leaves do not fall off but are literally “pushed off” by a secretion of fluid between the tree branch and the leaf stem. Trust me, it’s been scientifically proven.

The drive through central Baja Kansas was accompanied by its characteristic blandness, but I was happy to be on the homestretch.  It had been a memorable one-month 5,000 mile journey, and coupled with the previous 11,000 mile trip, I was ready for a lengthy respite from long-distant traveling. I had completed my mission: seeing the Red Sox play in Fenway Park.  Incidentally, the Bosox did win the pennant in seven games.