The Boston of That Heartbreaking Craigslist ‘Missed Connections’ Ad, in Pictures
Craigslist doesn’t usually make the news in Boston unless there’s been trouble with the law or an obviously bogus ad taking a jab at one of the local sports teams for lackluster play.
That’s why the “Missed Connections” posting on Boston Craigslist titled “I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972” is so beautiful. Since it was posted 11 days ago, the ad, which describes a guilt-stricken Vietnam veteran’s chance meeting with a woman on New Year’s Eve, has gone viral. AdWeek called it “simply heartbreaking,” while WIRED mused it could be the first Craigslist ad to win a Pulitzer Prize. Amidst all the “lightly used” couches and free cat towers is a deeply affecting piece of work—at best, a poignant message of enduring gratitude in a digital bottle; at worst, a tearjerking short story in the last place you’d expect to find one. It’s as if someone painted a Cézanne on the men’s room stall at Mary Anne’s.
You see, in these intervening forty-two years I’ve lived a good life. I’ve loved a good woman. I’ve raised a good man. I’ve seen the world. And I’ve forgiven myself. And you were the source of all of it. You breathed your spirit into my lungs one rainy afternoon, and you can’t possibly imagine my gratitude.
I have hard days, too. My wife passed four years ago. My son, the year after. I cry a lot. Sometimes from the loneliness, sometimes I don’t know why. Sometimes I can still smell the smoke over Hanoi. And then, a few dozen times a year, I’ll receive a gift. The sky will glower, and the clouds will hide the sun, and the rain will begin to fall. And I’ll remember.
So wherever you’ve been, wherever you are, and wherever you’re going, know this: you’re with me still.
Few seem to care if the account’s real or not. According to the Weather Underground’s historical data, it did, in fact, rain on New Year’s Eve 1972. As one Universal Hub commenter notes, the term “Downtown Crossing” wasn’t coined until six years after the events of the listing, though the author could simply be using the name for clarity’s sake. One blogger has extensively debunked the story, from the payload of the B-52 bombers the author claims to have flown, to the logistics of running down Washington Street with “a fifth of Tennessee rye” in his gut.
In case you can’t wait until some studio obtains the movie rights to “I met you in the rain,” sterilizes it, places Bradley Cooper in the leading role, and releases it Christmas 2017, we dug through the City of Boston Archives for photos of the city in the era this listing inhabits.
“You’d taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House.”
“I looped around the Fenway before snaking back past Symphony Hall and up to Trinity Church.”
“Then I roamed through the Common, scaled the hill with its golden dome…
…and meandered into that charming labyrinth divided by Hanover Street.”
“Before I could smile, you snatched my hand and led me on a dash through Downtown Crossing and into Neisner’s.”
Admittedly, this photo shows the five-and-dime store a few decades earlier than when our protagonist and the woman in the teal ball gown noshed on pecan pie at the lunch counter. But here’s the Neisner’s storefront, located at Washington and Bromfield. The chain filed for bankruptcy in December 1977.