Letters: Pedestrians Relate to “Rules of the Road”

Pedestrian Tina Merwin’s dispute with the driver who blocked the sidewalk in front of her [Sifting and Winnowing, Spring 2010] reminded me of an incident that happened when I was in graduate school in the late sixties.

I was trudging along University Avenue on my way to an early morning class in my usual fog, not paying much attention to anything except the sidewalk immediately in front of me, when a car exiting one of the campus entranceways stopped to allow me to pass. Even in my semi-conscious state, I realized that this was an amazing occurrence: regardless of the statutes, cars always go all the way out to the curb so the driver can see the traffic before turning onto the street. Who’s this weirdo, I thought, who is actually obeying the law and not cutting me off?

When I looked up, I noticed that the car had Wisconsin license plate number 1. Whoa! I thought, Could this be the governor’s car? Glancing up, I saw that it was indeed then-governor Warren P. Knowles, driving a Milwaukee-built Ambassador. He smiled and waved like the experienced politician he was. Still quite surprised, I gladly reciprocated.

John Eros MA’69, PhD’72 Charlottesville, Virginia

What a great article by Tina Merwin. I’m eighty years old, and I try to walk at least four miles daily, sometimes logging up to fifteen. I loved Tina’s reaction when a driver blocked the sidewalk and she “knocked on the car” to show her “thoughts.” Frequently, I have the same problem, and sometimes I knock on the hood with my knuckles, gently, and point down at the white lines. I’ve gotten an angry response now and then, but most drivers just ignore me. I even had a police car block the sidewalk one time, and I gave [the officer] a knock and received a sort of “excuse me.”

I have jogged and walked almost daily since my late thirties. I find it soothing, fun, and healthy. If you want to walk from Chicago to L.A. on Route 66 without leaving your hometown, drop me an e-mail at thompto@aol.com, and I’ll tell you how easy it is.

O. J. (Orrin) Thompto ’56 Madison

Published in the Summer 2010 issue


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