A Roundabout Welcome

My first 3 months working on Cape Cod, and for Cape Cod LIFE...

My first three months working on the Cape, and for Cape Cod LIFE, have been a blast. I’ve met a lot of interesting people (Charlie Tilton, Nan Stone), learned of several unique attractions (gurgle pots, a nudist campground), and had lunch at Panera approximately 28 times. Remember that number. Learning a new job and a new area, and commuting here from Quincy, and now Plymouth, the last 90 days has been quite the whirlwind for me. And, as a newcomer to the Cape, I’ve taken a few lumps.

Matt Gill

One day in late August, for example, my sister invited me to visit her family at their vacation cottage in Dennisport. I printed out directions at the office, jumped in my car, and headed for the rotary near Mashpee Commons. Mapquest told me to turn onto Route 28 North to begin my journey. But, doesn’t ’28 North’ go to Falmouth, I thought, and wouldn’t ‘north,’ in general, bring me to Sagamore? I knew that my destination, Dennis, was basically to the east, but alas, there was no 28 East. I was confused.

I circled the rotary a few times, checking and rechecking signs. It is a busy spot, and it was rush hour. I heard some beeps. I’ve seen the map, and as I circled, I reflected in a roundabout way that if Chatham is the Cape’s elbow and Provincetown the fist, Dennis must be somewhere by the beefy biceps. After some hesitation and with some trepidation, I took the exit for Route 28 South, and muddled along for a mile or two.

Then I immediately began second-guessing the road signs, and myself. Falmouth is to the south, I thought, so why would 28N bring me there? To reach Dennis, in the east, I need to take 28S? Huh? I turned around.

Soon I found myself back at Mashpee Commons, circling the rotary, and feeling I had been there before. Pulling over, I clicked on the compass app on my iPhone. It confirmed I was indeed on Cape Cod, but it didn’t offer much more. Frustrated, I gathered myself, took a deep breath, and against my gut, headed northeast again aboard 28 South. I passed through the villiage of Osterville for the third time in the last 30 minutes.

Eventually, after battling through some traffic and road construction, and an upset equilibrium, I arrived at the cottage in Dennis with some drinks and limes, and a slightly sour disposition. I was an hour late. My explanation? I could offer only shrugged shoulders and headshakes. My niece and nephew cheered me some, with a bike and scooter tour of the complex, and hot dogs for dinner finished the job. I sat back in a lawn chair, and took a few minutes to reflect on my journey, and look back.

I had to look pretty far, too, because my first assignment was to write about 1938, and the great New England Hurricane. September 21st of this year marked the 75th anniversary of the hurricane, which is considered the most devastating to strike this region in modern times. The storm took the lives of nearly 700 people in Long Island, N.Y. and New England, and caused hundreds of millions in damage to homes, businesses, boats, trees, and more.

To learn more, I spoke with Blue Hill Observatory Executive Director Charles Orloff, a Yarmouth resident. I also interviewed ten Cape and Islands residents—all 82 or older—who lived through the storm, and shared with me their memories. Take a look at the article on page 30, and let me know what you think. And if you happen to see a driver circling the rotary in Mashpee in a small, yet stylish silver Hyundai Accent, bearing an upside-down, east-means-west expression, remember me, and hold your beep. I’ll get there. . . eventually.

Matt Gill

Matthew J. Gill, Managing Editor