The armistice in the winter parking wars of South Boston had lasted for almost three seasons, an unspoken truce caused by mild temperatures and scant snowfall. The orange cones and broken beach chairs remained in basements and trunks, unneeded to save parking spots because cars did not need to digging out.
But earlier this week, as blizzard warnings sounded across the Northeast, a different type of alarm swept across Southie. People began parking their cars, staking a claim on a patch of asphalt long before a single flake had fallen.
Erin Donovan, 39, found a spot for her Audi A5 on Wednesday afternoon, almost 48 hours before the storm would hit.
“I know the drill,” said Donovan, who has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years. “I’ve been so thankful for the mild winters. It’s makes living here so much easier.”
As flakes began to fly Friday, there were clear signs that the ceasefire was over. Nary a parking spot existed in the entire town.
Some took preemptive action.
On East 6th Street, stretch of clear asphalt was reserved by a gray garbage can with a white paper taped to it that read: “Owner-occupied handicapped parking.”
A block over, the driver of a white, door-two sedan had employed a different strategy, parking so badly that the single vehicle took up a space where two cars could fit between a fire hydrant and a driveway. Bad parking is a conscious technique to save a spot for a spouse or roommate that often draws the ire of neighbors.
On other blocks plastic tubs and upside buckets held spaces for people who ventured out in their cars. Many of the space savers occupied spots designated for the handicapped. Most were not brave enough to relinquish whatever stretch of curb they had been able to claim.
They left their cars parked and walked for their last minute shopping, trumping on slippery sidewalks with plastic groceries sacks dangling from their arms. The shelves in the Stop & Shop on East Broadway had been stripped of milk, frozen pizza, meat, and chips.
Near the station on K Street, Vivian Lyons, 42, took a break from her walk home on a bench with an armful of provisions, which included cheese, cereal, tonic, and food for her Carson Russell terrier, Nunu.
“The supermarket is chaotic,’’ Lyons said. “The shelves are empty.’’
Bracing herself in the cold, Lindsay Guidoboni, 25, wore ear muffs and clutched bags heavy with meat, eggs, and a 12-pack of Bud Light. Guidoboni took a risk and left her car overnight on L Street, a major artery where parking would be banned at noon. She got up early and crisscrossed side streets for a place to ride out the storm.
“I spent 20 minutes early this morning looking for a spot,” Guidoboni said.
She was lucky.
Jill Reynolds left her car a brisk walk away on 1st Street, which was also subject to the parking ban. Reynolds said she thought her spot was legal as she trudged up a hill on Broadway with a 12-pack of Amstel Light in each hand.
Reynolds squinted her eyes against the blowing snow as she ticked off plans for the storm.
“I will be having a lot of beer,” Reynolds said. “T.V. And there will be cards”