The light went out long ago at Seamond Ponsart Roberts’ lighthouse home on Cuttyhunk Island, but memories of her childhood Christmases still sparkle. Like other children of lighthouse keepers sprinkled around remote Cape and Island outposts in the 1940s, she grew up without running water, electricity, or neighbors. She describes the keeper’s house at the west end of the island as “the end of the world,” a place where “visitors were very, very welcome.” Beginning every October, she scanned the sky for the red plane bearing the most welcome visitor of all: the Flying Santa, hero to lighthouse children from Maine to Long Island.
For Provincetown and even beyond, it’s definitely a symbol that Thanksgiving is here. It’s always the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The lights always go on at 6 p.m., and it’s always kind of a surprise to see who’s going to light the monument.
It’s definitely a time when the town is hopping. We probably had over 1,200 people at last year’s lighting event. Little by little, it becomes big—the museum fills and the crowd swells outdoors. Unfortunately, the weather’s always a little unpredictable. Sometimes it’s a little cold.
We’ve had rain and we’ve had snow. Last year was pretty good—it was blustery, but people enjoyed it. It’s a very brief ceremony. We don’t hold them out for long speeches. And as we say, there’s plenty of room in our 10,000-square-foot museum for people to warm up.
There are 19 strands of light and they each have 166 lights on them. The trivia is that it totals 3,154 lights. They’re all hand-put-in and hand-taken-out every year—Carlos Silva has done it for many, many years now. And they take a fair amount of abuse up here in the winds.
Clearly, the best seat is right up here [on High Pole Hill]. It’s kind of an unprecedented view, and you’re up here with a thousand of your closest friends. It can be seen from afar—people can watch from downtown—but the real treat, I think, is up here on the grounds of the monument.
People sometimes come dressed up as pilgrims—the whole garb. One time we actually had two people that had gotten married here talk all of their family into coming as pilgrims.
I think it symbolizes the beginning of winter. It marks that change of the seasons, when those of us that live on the Cape kind of reclaim the Cape. The lighting certainly brings tourism in, but it’s a chance for residents of Cape Cod to assemble and have a moment of cheer before the Thanksgiving holidays. It’s preparation for everyone, to know that winter’s coming. It’s a bright moment.
Visit www.pilgrim-monument.org for more information about Share the Light 2011.
“Have you had any fun lately?” That is what my brother Connor had the nerve to ask me when we sat down for lunch together. His question gave me cause for pause. I needed a little time to think about what fun means to me nowadays. Operating a small publishing company amidst the economic conditions of recent years has been, shall we say, pre-occupying. So, I thought about his question. Read more…
Most women of the Victorian era rarely traveled or knew the hardships of life at sea. Yet at age 22, just three years after her marriage, Hannah Rebecca Burgess had crossed the equator 11 times, helped her husband transport cargo from ports all over the world, and had learned to navigate clipper ships. Looking back, what is perhaps most remarkable about Hannah Rebecca Burgess is how she made the story of her life a lasting part of Sandwich history. Read more…
The building at 3217 Main St. in Barnstable Village doesn’t look like it’s haunted. But don’t tell that to the lawyer who rented an office there a few years ago. He was working late one night, heard a strange noise, and saw the door latch to a closet drop down. Things got even more eerie the following day when he witnessed a ghostly woman entering his room, wearing a dress and carrying a hatchet. In the next room, he reported seeing a woman churning butter next to the fireplace. He immediately broke his lease. Perhaps not coincidentally, the building is now for sale.
Anticipation! That was the feeling that took over when my parents mentioned “The Cape” to me as a child growing up outside of Boston in the 1930s. At the age of nine, in 1933, I wasn’t much involved with the planning and packing that went into my family’s preparation for a vacation beyond making sure that my bathing suit was in the suitcase. After our first trip to Waquoit, I was hooked. When I thought of sun, sand, and salt water, I visualized the Cape.
After years of renting in Waquoit, my Dad bought a piece of land on Little River on which he built a small cottage. From then on, most summer Fridays found us headed for the Cape (no highways then) and making good time until we hit the Canal. Sound familiar? In those early years, the Bourne Bridge was a drawbridge that had to be raised every time a large ship or one with a tall mast came through. Traffic would be backed up for miles and we would impatiently wait for the bridge to lower so we could pass. Read more…
Poems have been written about them. Artists are stirred by them. Photographs of them adorn walls around the world. “My son saw a photo of one of the cottages when he was in Greece on the island of Mykonos,” says Marie Jones of Enfield, Connecticut, who has journeyed to Truro’s Beach Point every summer since she was a baby, some 74 years ago.
Days’ Cottages turn 80 this summer. They have survived coastal storms and historical Nor’easters, including the Blizzard of ‘78 that washed away the seawall but left the cottages undamaged. Their appeal is ageless and their customers are seemingly forever faithful, many returning every summer, renting the same cottage, and settling in next to the same tourists. Through the decades, strangers have become friends, sometimes almost family.
“It’s been passed down from generation to generation,” says Joe Days, who now operates the business started by his grandfather. “We put them in the same cottage every year, and they’re next to the same people. So it’s like an annual reunion.” Read more…
Through her art, Hella Bailin revealed some of the best and worst moments of her life. From the worst—her parents were killed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust—to joyful world travels, Bailin created her art as a way to embrace cultures, capture the essential goodness of people, and accept and express her extraordinary sorrow and loss. Read more…
For as long as I can remember, a faded painting of my great great grandfather’s ship, the Niantic, hung in the parlor of our West Tisbury home. It had hung in our island house for 150 years. Every once in a while, we’d dust it or wipe off spider droppings.
In a darkened room, wearing a surgical mask and gloves, Falmouth’s Ian Primrose inspects a subject lying on a table with a portable ultraviolet light. Under the UV fluorescence, he can see blotches.
Primrose is not a doctor, but rather a master of alchemy, mystery, and craftsmanship. He is a professional art restorer and conserv- ator. The UV light reveals paint strokes of an earlier restoration.