There were speakeasies all over, and one of them was the Casa Madrid in Bass River. Legend has it that Mayor Curley had come all the way down from Boston to go there. He was never in favor of prohibition—he had a car and the horn would play “How Dry I Am.” He had state policemen as bodyguards that night—why a mayor would have state police as bodyguards, I don’t know, but he did. A separate group of state policemen raided the Casa Madrid, and his bodyguards were pushing him out of a window to get him out while others were being arrested. That was the kind of stuff that happened back then.
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Some people believe there’s no history after 1900. I’m a firm believer that history is happening today.
I go in every year dressed as Captain Bangs Hallett and I talk to the third-graders about our heritage, our past, talk a little bit about whaling, and some other stuff so that they’ll understand that their town is a little bit special. Then they’ll understand that just because something’s old doesn’t mean it’s useless. I’m not one of those people that says those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them, but I do think that if you know something about your town and you respect some things about your town, you take better care of it . . . Pride isn’t a bad thing. If you’ve got some pride, you’re apt to be more careful with what you have.
Yarmouth has proximity to great beaches, great shopping, and yet there’s still a quietness. We’ve got it all, we really do . . . We’re the only town that has five free beaches—and I mean they’re free for everybody. That makes it a welcoming place, where everyone feels like they can go. I wish every town had a free beach.
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I think when you really look at what is true about Cape Cod, you get to like it even better. There were some really nasty times here—we were antisemitic, anti-black, and it’s really only been since World War II that we’ve grown beyond those things. People say, “Oh my god, it’s going to hell.” But there was a time when Indians and white folks couldn’t be buried in the same part of the cemetery. It’s nice to look at this place and realize how much better it is now than it used to be. Cape Cod is a kinder and gentler place than it was 100 years ago—probably even 75 years ago. It’s a great place to retire, let me tell you.