I’m new to Ipswich. Forgive me.
I adore this town. I chose it. But now that I’ve lived here about 18 months, I confess — as a hopeless former non-New Englander — there are some details that confuse me.
Like Lord’s Square, for example. Dunkin Donuts, Rite-Aid.
I remember the first time I drove into Ipswich center from the north. I remember my first encounter with Lord’s Square. I didn’t realize then, of course, that it’s called Lord’s Square. Today, an 1872 map of the town hangs in my living room, and you can see why it’s called “Lord’s” — because the Lord family seems to have owned just about everything in the neighborhood back then.
But my first time passing through, I wasn’t calling it “Lord’s Square.” What I was saying at that moment was more along the lines of “Whoa! What am I— Where does this—?”
Lord’s Square is where Ipswich jerks you around.
The dependable State Route 133, going by the noble name of High Street, has been rolling pleasantly along toward town, steady as you please, when suddenly it veers to the right — as if it saw something terrifying just ahead on Short Street. Then it careens to the left — to avoid becoming Linebrook Road, I guess — and by the time it passes Rite-Aid, it’s all straight and calm again, and calling itself Central Street.
To a newcomer, it’s like a video game. Except if you die, you don’t get to play again.
And it’s even more confusing for the uninitiated coming back the other way.
The day came when, for the first time, I needed to give an out-of-towner directions from Ipswich center to my place on Linebrook. It’s simple — Central to Linebrook. Simple, except for Lord’s Square.
OK, imagine this: you’ll head west on Central until the road bends to the right. But at that very moment, you are going to want to turn left. Yes, you’re going right because the road goes to the right, but you want to go left. Just trust me, Larry.
So as you’re going to the right, put your left turn signal on! Yes, you heard me. You’re turning right, and you signal left. Then — you stop. No, there’s no stop sign. No signal. But you need to stop — because now that you’ve turned to the right, it’s time to go left. And there’s a stream of traffic coming at you. Traffic veering to avoid Short Street. How do I know why they’re avoiding Short Street? They just are!
Now pay attention, Larry. You’re going to turn left, toward the laundromat. But don’t go to the laundromat. Keep turning left. Yes, it’s sort of a U-turn. It’s Lord’s Square. No, it’s not actually a square. It’s sort of a triangle. But not exactly. Just be quiet and do what I say!
OK, now that you’ve turned right, and left, and left … I have good news. You’re on Linebrook Road.
But watch out for trains. The first sign you see on Linebrook Road is important: NO TRAIN HORN.
If you make it across the tracks, you will probably survive the trip to my house. You’ve done the hard part. You’ve navigated Lord’s Square.
Larry? Are you still there?