Sunday, May 29, 2005

Woburn Sandwich

When we first moved here a few years back, we spent our first week at an all-suite hotel in Tewksbury, because our apartment wasn't ready yet. I arranged an interview with an agency in Boston that handles editorial and communications specialists.

Tewksbury, however, is pretty far from Boston, especially when you're completely ignorant of the terrain. I wasn't prepared to drive downtown yet, so I figured I'd give the famed Boston transit system a go. I asked a friendly waitress at our hotel the directions to the closest commuter train station.

She was eager to help and gave me detailed instructions on getting to the station in Reuben. "Reuben?" I repeated back to her. She again said, yes, Reuben--you can't miss it. I smiled, thanked her, and went back to our room completely baffled. Jim recommended that I follow I-93 South until I saw (A) a sign to a commuter train station, (B) a sign to Reuben, or something like it, or (C) preferably a combination of the two.

The next morning, I drove down the highway mumbling "Reuben, Reuben, Reuben" to myself. Suddenly, I came to an exit for a commuter train station in WOBURN. Rhymes with Reuben. Not pronounced Woe-burn, as I had said in my head through all 500-plus pages of A Civil Action while reading it during the 1990s.

"Reuben! I mean, Woburn!" I yelled to myself as I took the exit. (I believe the Woburn station is properly known as the Anderson Rapid Transit Center.) From there, getting downtown was cake. Or better yet, a big juicy sandwich with 1000 Island Dressing.

And thus began my first real introduction to the R-less world of the New England accent. Next up: Medfud, Bedfud, Ahlington, and Andovah. And thank goodness none of you ever had to hear me mangle Billerica. Say it with me: Bill-RICK-A. Bill-RICK-A.

And once again, I was living in the land of "You're not from around here, are you, honey?"


Blogger Mr. Liberty said...

Something tells me I would have difficulty getting a Reuben in Woburn.

That reminds me of "Quiz Show". The jewish G-man is invited to the Harvard Club by Charles Van Doren, orders a Reuben Sandwich and says how difficult it would be to find a "real Reuben" there.

I think I got that right.

3:35 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ah, WOObin. I grew up there! It's true you can't get a decent ROObin there, but you can get the best cheesesteak I have ever had at Lentine's (Lenteenies) on Montvale Av.

Re the whole Civil Action thing, I lived there during that, too. There was a panic when people didn't know which wells were contaminated (because Beatrice denied everything for years, a strategy that they ultimately had the money to make work). I was about 7 and my parents took me to the pediatrician to have my blood drawn. Nobody had told me that blood isn't red until it hits air, and when I saw the weird purple blood in the bag, I thought, "That's it, I'm dead. The water got me."

The train station you were at is actually in view of the Superfund site that has, to this day, never been cleaned up -- Superfund is broke now anyway, and the EPA is too hobbled to get polluters to pay anything into it. So most Superfund sites are going to stay the way they are today.

All the water in Woburn now comes from the Quabbin Reservoir. Nobody wants to even think about using wells there ever again. Most of my neighbors still have Poland Springs water bubblers that they've had since the crisis. They don't trust what comes out of the tap. I always test the water when I move into a new place, one time it turned up lead from old pipes. Fixed it by replacing a few pipes and installing filters.

10:34 PM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

Lentines. Montvale. Got it--thanks!

Scary story about the water. I think I'd be using the bottled stuff myself. Ironically, when we moved here, we were so grateful to get good-tasting stuff out of the tap because for the 6 years we lived in West Texas, we had to use bottled water. Our well water was safe to drink, but was so heavily mineralized (fossil water from a deep aquifer) that it tasted salty. When you filled the bathtub, the water looked blue, like a glacial lake.

I can only imagine how scared you must have been getting your blood drawn. I'm grateful the water didn't get you!

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

AHAHAHA!!! I'm from Bill RICK ah and this post was wicked pissa (more NE terms). I was talking to a friend from NJ the other day, and mentioned Woburn to her, and she, too, thought I said Reuben...and I don't even have that much of an accent anymore (from years [yeahs] of living away.
Welcome to New England!

6:50 AM  

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