An ordinary life. Just strolling along the Cochituate Rail Trail in Natick, the town I grew up in, was part of my weekend. While I grew up in Natick, a suburb of Boston, and was always a Red Sox fan who loved learning the statistics about them, from an early age, ever since I was a little kid, I had never heard that Worcester Road aka Route 9 was named Route 9 after the venerable Red Sox slugger Ted Williams. For those of you who are not diehard Red Sox fans, Ted Williams wore jersey 9 on his back. Of course, Route 9 wasn’t always named after Williams. The road was built in the early 1930s before Williams’ playing days. And it was June 16, 1988 when Ted Williams was the guest of honor at a ceremony dedicating a section of Route 9 in Natick as “Ted Williams Highway”. The Red Sox have had some colorful players like Pedro Martinez, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Nomar Garciapara, Pumpsey Green, Mo Vaughn, Wade Boggs and Hall of Famer David Ortiz … but nobody other than Williams has a major highway named after himself.
it wasn’t until this past weekend when I was walking the Cochituate Rail Trail did I read on a kiosk there that explained the story off how Route 9 was named after Ted Williams. Upon some reflection after wards, there are probably some diehard Patriots fans who are looking to rename a portion of Route 1 as Route 12 to honor Tom Brady’s GOAT status. I hope he doesn’t get his number 12 as a permanent marker for any road in the Commonwealth. He lost me as a fan before he moved to Tampa. He lost me as a fan when he sported a red MAGA hat on the top of his locker during the 2020 POTUS campaign.
Route 9 had other noteworthy claims to fame. It was the home of Shoppers World, the first and largest outdoor shopping mall when it opened in 1951, a year before I was born. Shoppers World’s address was Framingham, but it straddled into Natick too.
Near to Shopper’s World was Speen Street where we lived. Speen Street’s claim to fame was not that we lived there but the Natick Army Labs was situated on one end of it. The Army Labs developed freeze-dried foods used by astronauts. Natick now boasts a population of 37,000 according to www.city-data.com, only about 10,000 more inhabitants than when I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. This doesn’t sound right, but that’s what the Census reports.
Walking around the rail trail, learning more about the history of the town felt real good after spending so many weeks cooped up in hospitals, away from ordinary or regular life. Not far from where we were walking, 1984 Heisman Trophy quarterback Doug Flutie lived. He made football history in 1984 when he threw a “Hail Mary” pass that was caught with seconds to go, and led to Boston College beating Miami in the Orange Bowl 47-45. There is a road in Natick named after Doug Flutie and for good reason. Flutie Pass, bisects Route 9 near the Framingham Express bus station and Cinemas.
It was chilly outside walking but a good chilly and immensely enjoyable. It is true that so much of life is enjoyable if one takes the time to be present with it. I like hanging out in regular and ordinary places like an asphalt paved rail trail and learning about the history of the town.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ordinary living. One does not have to be the greatest slugger of all time – the last one to hit above 400 – to have a truly nice enjoyable day. It’s enjoyable when simple pleasures like a stroll on pavement occurs.
And do you know why a segment of Worcester Road was not named after Nomar? Though he was a colorful player, he wasn’t a beloved Red Sox when he left.