My bride, Debbie, and I have made numerous trips to the capital of the Bay State, Boston, Massachusetts, over years past.
A few of these excursions have been purely for tourist reasons, since the area is such a hotbed of early American history, and your humble scribe absolutely loves visiting historical sites! Most of our visits, however, were for the principal reason of seeing our middle child, Allan Jon, and his wife, Natalie Watson. Of course, each time we traveled for family visits, we always saw some tourist sites, too, as the Greater Boston area is loaded with tourist destinations. Heck, I even remember my bride and I taking all three of our children on a trip to “Beantown” when they were young, and our oldest, and only daughter, Michelle, remarking out loud, she thought it was very “relaxing” driving in the Boston traffic, and its classic, zig-zag, narrow roads? As our family driver, I remember quickly telling Michelle it was NOT a relaxing way to drive!
Another memorable visit there involved attending Allan’s graduation from historical Harvard University, with his Master’s Degree in Education, after only 1-year of classroom study. It was certainly an honor for Ms. Debbie and me to be present when he was awarded his prestigious advanced degree.
The specific Massachusetts adventure I write about this time, however, is an occasion we drove our auto rental from Boston to the southwestern part of the state. We planned on seeing old friends of mine on a total surprise (our special “gift”) visit to their home in Holyoke. Additionally, we wanted to see the Mecca of the hoops world, The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Both ideas were totally accomplished without a hitch.
The southwestern MA swing began with some excitement for us, when we entered the Massachusetts Turnpike. I thought there would be a human presence in the toll booth area, but it was totally automated, so I was unable to pay the required toll fee. In order to pay this charge, I made a telephone call later to their turnpike operations center, and they gave me an address to mail a check for my toll fee. Since their cameras took license plate photos of all entering vehicles, my monetary fine would have been several hundred dollars had I ignored the toll when we returned to Our Town.
Now, we’re off to stop No. 1, the historic hoops museum in Springfield, a city of about 150,000 folks. What a memory we have of that magnificent structure! I have loved the large roundball sport since I began attending the Oklahoma A&M Aggies’ practices in 1953 in historical Gallagher Hall. My dear father, Col. C.H. Breedlove, and Aggie Coach Henry P. Iba, were great friends, and my father and I would regularly attend Mr, Iba’s practice sessions. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame features a HUGE basketball statue in front of the main entrance, and a house full of memories inside that takes at least 3 hours to tour the entire structure. It is a state-of-the art museum that features exhibits, basketball memorabilia, interactive video monitors, a movie theater, and numerous galleries. It is an absolute must for anyone who enjoys this incredible sport!
After totally absorbing the hoops museum, we were off, taking the short drive on I-91 North to Holyoke, a beautiful, quaint city of about 40,000. We carefully drove around their tree-lined, Norman Rockwell-like streets, for a short time, before locating my long-time friends’ home, the residence of Norma and Rick A. Lee. The Lees lived in the Birmingham, Alabama, area when I lived there during a phase of my professional medical training, 1975-77. It had been SO many years since we had seen each other, and Ms. Debbie had never met them. We parked our rental car in front of their lovely home, and after a brief wait, a car pulled into their driveway. off the mostly quiet street. “Magically”, I approached this vehicle when they opened their car doors, identified myself, and the loud screaming began!
Ms. Debbie and I enjoyed the Lees’ company for several hours, before heading back east toward Boston. The return trip to Beantown was memorable, too, as near Boston, in the darkness of night, a HUGE downpour (i.e., rainstorm!) overtook our car. The weather was so bad I had to pull off the turnpike. I wasn’t sure we were going to make it back to our hotel, without having an auto accident? Fortunately, we got through the storm, and today have some wonderful mind’s eye memories of all those experiences long ago.