image      In between the Beach to Beacon 10K and the Falmouth Road Race we find ourselves in Merrimac, Mass. at the home of old friends John Theriault and Linda Carpino.  John was one of the old Greater Boston Track Clubbers who will be celebrating the club’s 40th anniversary Saturday, August 17th from 2 – 6 pm at Corcoran Commons on the Boston College campus. Tickets

Anyway, with John and Linda off to work, Toya and I venture out in search of a Dunkin’ Donuts to remind me of my many years as a New Englander, since the “Double D” brand doesn’t exist out in SoCal. 
With a vague recollection that we passed one yesterday on the way in from Maine, we backtrack and, voila, run into a Dunkin Donuts on Broad Street just off the I-495 exit. Inside the line snakes toward the door as regulars stopping on the way to work load up for another day in the trenches.
     When our turn comes we step aside to let the local police officer go ahead because we hadn’t made our minds up yet.
Dunkin' Donuts in Merrimac, Mass.
Dunkin’ Donuts in Merrimac, Mass.

“Take your time,” she replies.  “They’re slow.”

     “You say that like it’s a good thing,” I volley back, eliciting a smile.
     Finally, we order a regular coffee, no sugar; a mocha; a couple of breakfast sandwiches and a blueberry muffin.  But when I reach for my wallet, nada, I’m pulling nothing but fabric.
     “Oh, shoot (or something similar),” I say, first to Toya, then to the man named John working the counter.  “I forgot my wallet.”
     “You mean in your car,” he asks.
     “No, we’re from out of town staying with friends on Lake Attitash, and we walked out without thinking, I guess.”
     “Don’t worry about it,” he says.  “Happens more often than you’d realize.  Just take your stuff and come back later to pay.”
     “Sure.  Hey boss,” he then calls over to the manager Heather working the drive-through window.  “They’re from outta town staying with friends nearby.  He forgot his wallet.  I said they could come back later and pay.  OK?”
     “Shu-ah,” she answers in her New England patois.
     But Toya is embarrassed, and doesn’t feel comfortable just walking out with unpaid goods.  So I leave her behind as collateral, and drive back (without a license, BTW) to our friends’ house in search of my pigskin pokey, which I find tucked away in my shoulder bag.
     Upon my return I wait my turn in the still-long line, then hand the counter guy my Amex card, adding a ten-dollar bill to the tip jar by way of thanks.
     Toya waves, happy to see the one white face walking in that hadn’t stared at the anomaly of a black woman in casual workout gear sitting alone in a Dunkin’ Donuts in Merrimac, Mass.
     Notwithstanding, the New England hospitality we’ve experienced from Cape Elizabeth, Maine to Merrimac, Mass., and soon in Falmouth on Cape Cod is a reminder of the oft-forgotten kindness of the region.  The adventure continues.
Morning Mist atop Lake Attitash
Morning mist atop Lake Attitash


  1. Toni,
    So great to read your article. I remember those “Falmouth Road Race Days” a lot of fun and good times with friends. Still have some shirts that I still wear. We always enjoyed seeing you there and a good time was had by all. Miss not being there. Wishing you a Toya a great time. Hope it is a great race day. Nothing like Dunkin Donuts
    Your cousin

  2. Toni,

    How do you survive without Dunkin’?! They have a slogan:America runs on Dunkin.
    Actually they are easy to find in New England. Most towns have at least one or two.
    Love reading your column.

    Vinnie Chiappetta
    Hingham, MA.

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