Don’t be afraid. Come on over. It’s okay. You can cross Route 1. Outer Linebrook is a friendly place. Here, I’ll show you.
When you come to what you think is the end of Linebrook Road, it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning of your adventure. While you’re waiting at the interminable red light at Route 1, pause to take in the natural beauty of this Gateway to Outer Linebrook. On your right, there’s a family of guinea hens. They’re free range, totally illegal, and charming as hell. Occasionally they like to wander across Linebrook Road, usually single-file so it takes longer (because they’re essentially show-offs, peacock wannabes); but don’t worry about the time this is costing you, because the red light won’t be changing to green anytime soon.
On your left, there’s a historic brown house, empty and forlorn and, it appears, competing for a position on the National Registry of Decomposition. Which is a shame, because according to Ipswich Town Historian Gordon Harris, this was once a rollicking tavern. If it were still a rollicking tavern, you could stop off here for a stiff drink to help you overcome your fear of crossing Route 1 and passing over into the realm of Outer Linebrook. As things stand now, there’s no legal way to imbibe while you wait for the guinea hens.
Eventually you will find yourself crossing the border of Outer Linebrook, a quasi-historic state thoroughfare officially designated in 1922 as “Route 1.” You’ll experience the sweet, bright promise of Wolf Hill Home & Garden Center on your left, and Cumbys on your right. Don’t you feel more secure now, knowing that you’re within reach of a lawn gnome or an original flavor Slim Jim if you need one?
Contrary to rumors, a visa is not required to cross over into Outer Linebrook. Nor do you need a passport. Nor even a driver’s license, unless, of course, you’re driving. In fact, we don’t even ask for a photo ID. You can be your undocumented self here. Planet Outer Linebrook is all about individuality, and diversity. However, for your safety, please keep your hands, arms, and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Young children should be accompanied by an adult. Also, for the comfort of those around you, we request that there be no flash photography, eating, or drinking in any attraction.
Also please note, as you proceed, there’s a very pleasant speed limit sign on your right. It has numerals on it, two tall black numerals which you don’t often see side-by-side on other planets: 2 and 5. That’s right, the speed limit here on Planet Outer Linebrook is 25 mph. I know it seems strange, but please, don’t exceed the 25 mph speed limit. Contrary to vicious propaganda, Outer Linebrook does not deploy snipers who crouch on barn roofs and pick off speeders. However, we do have a local militia devoted to digging potholes which will rack your pinion.
As you begin your trek along Outer Linebrook Road, you’ll notice immediately, on your left, a solid, sturdy brick building with a large, reassuring sign in all caps: LINEBROOK FIRE STATION. We don’t have any fire trucks here, however. This is where we keep our ambulances. It’s a clever bit of subterfuge designed to fool bandits from Topsfield notorious for stealing fire trucks. Unfortunately, there is no corresponding building with a LINEBROOK AMBULANCE STATION sign housing fire trucks. With no close-at-hand protection against fire, residents of Outer Linebrook tend to be paranoid about things like matchbooks, propane tanks, and flint.
Continue traveling along Outer Linebrook Road and you’ll begin to experience the many fascinating features of our unique little triangle at the westernmost point of Ipswich, Massachusetts. You know those massive award-winning pumpkins that astonish visitors at the Topsfield Fair? Look to your left as you round the first curve in the road, and you may catch a glimpse of one of the contenders. It lives right here, on Planet Outer Linebrook! Sometimes seen parked on a wagon not far from the street, and now in its twilight months, this esteemed Outer Linebrook resident is rotted to the point of looking very much like a vegetable version of Jabba the Hutt. Wave hello as you go by!
We also have our very own “Selectmen’s Area” on Planet Outer Linebrook. Here, a current selectman lives directly across the street from a former selectman. In years to come, the configuration of our Outer Linebrook Selectmen’s Area is likely to morph and grow quite dramatically. We’re planning exhibits of “Distinguished Selectmen,” “Disgraced Selectmen,” and possibly “Disturbed Selectmen,” pending the outcome of a top-secret psychiatric study now under way.
Keep driving and you’ll see a church on the right: Linebrook Church is the oldest independent church in the country. It seems they never got around to officially joining the actual official Congregationalists, who founded Ipswich. And truth be told, one day a couple centuries ago, after we foolishly gave up the chunk of land that became the Town of Rowley, and Outer Linebrook found itself churchless, we picked up this church building and moved it back across the line, to keep it inside Ipswich. We were willing to live on an untamed frontier. We were not quite willing to live on a godless untamed frontier.
And now, as your tour of Planet Outer Linebrook continues, you will pass a couple cemeteries, “new” and “old.” We like to keep things current here on Planet Outer Linebrook, so at the “new” Linebrook Cemetery, we only allow bodies dating back to about 1850.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position, your seat belt is securely fastened, and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you, or in the overhead bins.
Finally, as your tour comes to an end, we introduce a bit of suspense. You keep driving westward, the road forks, and there’s no sign. Where am I? you ask yourself. You’re on Planet Outer Linebrook. Exotic Land of Mystery. Unbeknownst to you, Linebrook Road bends sharply to the left. You, however, will keep going straight — on what you think is Linebrook Road. But in reality, you’re now on Boxford Road. But pretty soon, at the Topsfield town line, the road changes names again. And where are you now? You’re on Linebrook Road again!
Yes, it’s magical. It’s inexplicable. It’s Outer Linebrook.
Please come again.
Doug Brendel, our intrepid correspondent, wears a World War I helmet as he taps out his reports by Morse code via an old-fashioned telegraph machine from Planet Outer Linebrook. Follow this blog by clicking “Follow.”