Driving in Boston, November 1975: Boston, MA
Sue was kind enough to lend her car, so that I could take Natalie to visit her grandparents for Christmas. We drove straight thru from Toronto to Boston. I had never driven in Boston before. It was around 3:00 AM when I found myself on the elevated highway carrying I-93 through downtown. Lack of attention forced me off the road when I ended up in a lane that had to exit. Next thing I knew I was below the highway scrambling around deserted streets near city center.
I could see the elevated highway where I wanted to be but could find no way to get there. I circled around and could find no signs pointing to an entry ramp. Natalie was fast asleep on the seat next to me. She seemed not to care her dad was lost in Boston in the middle of night. I was concerned that I didn’t lose sight of the elevated roadway. As difficult as it was to navigate in a small area where I felt an entry ramp could not hide for long, I worried that should I wander farther away I may become like the character Charlie who couldn’t get off the MTA in the song by the Kingston Trio.
Finally I came across an open gas station. I pulled in and questioned the attendant. “I can see where I want to go, but I cannot find how to get there,” I said, pointing to the highway right above us. Without a pause, he pointed down the street and directed,” Go down to that traffic light where it says ‘NO LEFT TURN,’ make a left there and you’ll see the ramp on your left.” I thanked him and proceeded away perplexed. “Should I take advice to disobey traffic signs?,” I pondered. Getting to the traffic light I joined two other cars ahead of me waiting for a red light to change. For the length of the light I wondered could this be a setup to entrap out of town drivers. I imagined the cars surrounding me were perhaps undercover traffic cops. Maybe I had been on the road too long without a break.
Finally the waiting was over and the light changed. The first car in line immediately turned left against the rules. The second in line did the same. Having had two in front of me as examples, I suddenly found the courage to become a scofflaw and turned left. Sure enough, the ramp to the highway was there on my left. Making a quick turn, I ascended the ramp, made an escape, and became one of the many who take traffic rules in Boston with a grain of salt.