Local legend lends a hand on busy football game weekends

by Amanda Lawrence | 11/4/94 6:00am

For the past 41 years, Hanover Traffic Director Ben Thompson has played a hand in controlling the mad rush of visitors who flood the roads -- particularly the intersection of Main and Wheelock Streets -- on home football game weekends.

Thompson is always standing in the intersection outside the Hanover Inn, adorned in a traditional uniform complete with brass buttons and white gloves. "That is what an original uniform looked like," said Thompson, who began directing traffic in 1953.

Town Manager Cliff Vermilya calls Thompson a "local tradition," who adds flavor and cheer to the town. And Dartmouth Bookstore owner Dave Cioffe said Thompson is the "kind of person Hanover is associated with."

Among Thompson's tasks as traffic director are ensuring that pedestrians are safe and that traffic runs smoothly.

Thompson says he must "try and move [the cars] through that intersection as fast as possible at a reasonable speed."

But there is more to Thompson's job then merely directing traffic. He can often be spotted smiling, waving, pointing out directions to pedestrians or peering into cars and offering the drivers assistance if they are lost.

Though Thompson used to direct traffic full-time, his post is now limited to Commencement weekend and home football games. Fellow Hanover police officers say Thompson has always requested the same post for directing traffic.

Thompson said he tries to remain out on the corner even during football games -- when most of the cars in town are parked -- in case an accident occurs. And he is quick to note that in his traffic directing career, only one rear-end collision has occurred.

Thompson said he loves his position as traffic director for the town and that the best part is the opportunity to talk to, visit with and help other people.

Thompson and his wife Barbara have raised four children in Hanover. He is currently employed as a Hearings Examiner for the N.H. Department of Safety in addition to his position as traffic director.

He has previously served on the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee, the Improvement Society and as Chief of Police for the Lebanon Police Department.

Asked when he thought he would resign his post on the Main Street corner, Thompson replied, "When the College sends me home."

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!