Thursday, April 03, 2014
Note for those who need to know: I submitted this to the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, but neither could place it. It's just one of those things; pages are planned a day or so in advance, it wasn't something that could be inserted on the fly, and using it later wouldn't have the impact it has now. This concerns the deaths of Ed Walsh and Michael Kennedy, Boston Firefighters. Walsh's funeral was taking place in Watertown, where I live. I think that's all the background you need, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Taking Time to Pay Respect
I was giving MY WIFE a ride to Harvard Square, where she catches the Red Line to work. Nothing unusual. Then traffic backed up on Mount Auburn Street. I hadn't remembered that we'd pass the funeral home. There, parked on the street, were Ladder 15 and Engine 33, draped in black bunting. It was a sobering sight and it put things into perspective. No matter how long the ride took today, it would be fast enough.
Maybe 15 minutes more than normal, I dropped off MY WIFE. Heading home, I spotted two firefighters in dress uniform, standing at a bus stop. I pulled over and asked if they needed a ride to Watertown. They accepted.
I asked them their names and where they were from. They were Mike and Zach, members of the Bridgeport Fire Department in Connecticut. They traveled via AMTRAK early in the morning, then took the T to Harvard, and had been waiting for the 71 bus when I spotted them. They were, of course, trying to get to Saint Patrick's for Ed Walsh's funeral.
We exchanged small talk. They told me how nice the Boston guys were who had come to attend a service in their area a while back. I told them about friends on the BFD with whom I play softball. I asked about their accommodations for the night. They said they had none; they were taking the train back that evening. And they planned to repeat the trip tomorrow, for Michael Kennedy.
We made good time until Watertown. Traffic was being directed away from Mount Auburn to another road. Fine for me, but not so much for getting these guys to Saint Patrick's. I tried to see if we might be allowed through. I pointed to the two firefighters in my car, but the traffic cop shook his head no and sent us on the detour.
Mike and Zach apologized, concerned about me getting home, losing my time. I told them not to worry.
I used some of my local knowledge to skirt traffic, but avoiding it completely was impossible. My two passengers offered to hoof it to the church, but they didn't realize how far they still had to go. I again reassured them I didn't mind.
We finally got within a block of Watertown Square. I asked a traffic cop how close I could get these firemen to the church. He suggested I pull through a nearby alley, closed to traffic. I thanked him, but as I was turning into it, I saw a parked car blocking it. I now agreed with Mike and Zach that it was probably best if they walk the remaining quarter-mile. They thanked me, got out, and started walking.
It was thirty minutes more before I reached Watertown Square. Once I was able to drive past Main Street, I saw the sea of blue uniforms. Firefighters lined the street six and seven deep, as far as the eye could see. Mike and Zach were in there somewhere. They'll travel home, then travel back to West Roxbury for Michael Kennedy.
I'm usually able to give MY WIFE a ride, and then get home, in twenty minutes. Today it took an hour-and-a-half. It was fast enough.
So, I'm sorry I couldn't get this published, but I'm happy to have someplace to put it where folks can read it and enjoy it.
Soon, with more better stuff.