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Just as a few hundred Maine people have begun to make the Downeaster Train a part of their daily commute the folks in Boston start talking about a possible seven-day shutdown of North Station before and during this summer's Democratic National Convention.
What would that mean to commuters from Maine and New Hampshire? It would mean they'd be unceremoniously dumped in Woburn, a lonely, dusty, remote, one-horse suburb 20 miles north of Boston.
O.k., so maybe the town does have more than one horse and isn't that dusty, the point is it's 20 miles north of Boston and it's going to be a major hassle.
According to a recent article in the Boston Globe police and transportation officials are leaning toward a shutdown of North Station as a 'security measure' but no decisions have been made. They're also talking about closing down Interstate 93 into Boston during the four-day convention, which should make a drive into the city more fun than usual, if that's possible.
The Democrats will hold their convention in Boston July 26 to 29 and travel in and around the city during that period is expected to "pose a challenge."
Traffic will be even worse if our rail commuters are forced to take buses into the city from that remote and dusty suburb I mentioned.
Patricia Douglas, marketing and development director for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and the Downeaster said, "You'd think that they would be begging people to come by train during the convention."
We used to have passenger trains running up and down Maine years ago. I barely remember them but my friend Tewkey Merrill remembers them well, still misses them and can't stop talking about them. He's often told me the story of the last trip he took by train from Bangor's stately railroad station to Boston's North Station.
According to one of his many versions of the story he walked into the Bangor station and simply asked the clerk for a round-trip train ticket. When the clerk snapped back "A round-trip train ticket to WHERE?" Tewkey snapped back: If it's "round-trip" I hope it'll bring me right back HERE!"
Once on board Tewkey says he found a seat near one end of the car and just sat there in silence minding his business. Soon a conductor came along and yelled, "You can't leave that bag in the isle you've got to stow it above," and then he headed toward the back of the train.
Tewkey said he didn't say anything, he just sat there.
A few minutes later the same fast-walking, fast-talking conductor was back and again he yelled, "You can't leave that bag in the aisle it's got to be stowed above," and he headed to the front of the train.
Again, Tewkey just sat there in silence.
Fifteen minutes later the conductor is back. He picks up the bag and says I'm not going to tell you again and goes to the door and heaves the bag out into the pucker-brush. The bag hit the ground, broke open and spread clothes all along the side of the tracks. "It was a mess,"said Tewkey.
The conductor was soon back again and he said to Tewkey, "There, what do you think of that?"
Tewkey looked up and said, "Wouldn't think much of it if it were my bag."
That a few hours later Tewkey climbed into the sleeper he'd rented and went to sleep. In the middle of the night he heard a knocking from the compartment beneath him and then a woman's high-pitched voice called out, "Sir, are you awake?"
"I am now," said a groggy Tewkey, "What do you want?"
"Well, it's awfully cold down here," said the woman, "and I was wondering if you'd go get me a blanket?"
"I've got a better idea," said Tewkey. "Why not pretend we're married?"
"That sounds very interesting," the woman said, coquettishly, "and what would we do then?"
"Get up and get your own #@%& blanket!" said Tewkey.
Contact John at: or write:
John McDonald, Storyteller Central, P.O. Box 301, South Paris, ME 04281
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