Memory Lanes

They should have kept that New York apartment.

By the time Route 1 wraps around southern Maine, the roadside is peppered with charming motels with cottages, miniature golf courses, and clam shacks, all of which were closed when I whizzed past them in the wee hours. Coastal Connecticut cares less about the traveller’s convenience than the shopping, grooming, or equestrian needs of its locals. There are auto body shops and teeny strip malls, certainly, but instead of thrift stores and hot dog stands, Connecticut offers waxing, tanning, and yoga studios. Lots of old money here.

Early this morning I passed Old Saybrook, summer home of Katharine Hepburn, whose memory and legacy are preserved by the Katharine Hepburn Arts and Cultural Center, known locally as “The Kate.” I also spotted Herbie the Love Bug on his way to a Beetle gathering, and stopped at a lovely cemetery to do a couple of gravestone rubbings.

I’ve seen a lot of wild turkeys all over the place on this trip, but these dudes are HUGE!

Road signs on this section of the highway mark it as either the “Boston Post Road,” the “Old Post Road,” “Boston Road,” or simply “Post Road.” Sometimes it is “North Road,” or, “West U. S. 1,” which, though accurate, is contrary to the highway design scheme. Both interstate highway systems — the original 1926 configuration and the modern interstate scheme — follow the principle that odd-numbered roads will run north-to-south and even-numbered roads, east-to-west.

Based on this map from my WPA book and my experience over these past few days, I’m clumping off Route One into four basic segments:

1) Vacationland: Includes all Maine has to offer for sportsmen, survivalists, presidential retreaters, and run-of-the-mill east coasters who like clams and mini-golf.

2) The Old Boston Post Road: Literally the path forged by European settlers over indigenous peoples’ footpaths to transport goods and news between colonies in New York and New England. I extend this to Washington, DC.

3) Plantation Country: I may split this up between Tobacco lands and Cotton lands. Not Sure yet.

4) Florida: Everything below Jacksonville.

As I drew closer to New York City, the post-war suburban lure became very clear. I’m guessing Darien, Connecticut, was supposed to be where the Blandings built their dream house. The Petries lived in New Rochelle, which is where I got a cruller and more coffee. Cute town.

Things definitely get scruffier closer to the City, particularly in the Bronx, which is where my mother’s parents grew up:

Weirdly familiar.

Tomorrow, I finish out the Post Road and get to spend the night in my own bed with my own Cheryl and my own pets. Then off to see how many Jefferson Davis Highways there still are.

References

Hodgman, J. (2017). Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches. (J. Hodgman, Narr.) [Audiobook]. Penguin Audio.

Potter, H.C. (Dir.) (1948). Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. RKO Radio Pictures.

Memorable Blaxploitation film.

Swift, E. (2011). The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Author: Beth Daniels

DC writer | Old movies. Old Washington. Any old thing.

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