We’re 35 and Going Strong!

Cape Cod Life  /  2014 Annual / ,

Writer: Matthew J. Gill

This year Cape Cod LIFE Publications celebrates its 35th anniversary. In 1979, Brian Shortsleeve, our publisher, had an idea for a magazine he thought readers and advertisers would like, one featuring compelling stories of the people, places, history—and food!—of Cape Cod and the Islands. The magazine would also display stunning images of the scenic region, from Nobska Light to Nauset Beach, from the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown to the Cape Cod Canal.

35 And Going Strong

Brian started the magazine out of his home—for a little perspective, 1979 came one year after The Blizzard of 1978, a year before Cape Cod Potato Chips was founded, and a long time before the Internet, email, and digital photography. In addition to Cape Cod LIFE, over the years the company has added Cape Cod HOME and Cape Cod ART, and in 1995, launched capecodlife.com. For Brian, his staff, and his family—Judy, Josh, Max, and Sam, the family’s dog—the magazine has played a major role in their lives, and its production during the past three and one-half decades has been a true labor of love.

To commemorate this anniversary, we have approached the 2014 Annual Guide a little differently. We gathered 35 ‘fun facts’ about every town on Cape Cod as well as Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cuttyhunk Island. These ‘fun facts’ include historic events dating back to the arrival of the Pilgrims. We researched the Cape’s lighthouses too, when they were built and who the men and women were that staffed them. We looked at the many industries that have flourished here, from agriculture, fishing, and whaling, to catboats built for sailing; from gristmills and glassblowing, to the provision—for centuries—of fine dining and accommodation.

We also studied individuals and the contributions they have made over the years to the region, and the world. The list is long but it includes writer Thornton Burgess, pirate ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy, and the founder of the Harwich Junior Theater, Betty Bobp. President Obama has famously visited Martha’s Vineyard in recent years, while a century ago, President Grover Cleveland set up his ‘Summer White House’ in Bourne. Before them, Henry David Thoreau came for a visit, as did the Pilgrims, and perhaps—centuries before—the Vikings.

For fun, we tracked down some great spots to chat in Chatham, and a few of Dennis’s most prominent dentists. The project has also added some new terms to our vocabulary, and in the coming year we will try to incorporate ‘mooncusser’, ‘wharfinger’, ‘scow’, and ‘smudge pot’ into our intra-office communications.

Our editorial team has been aided tremendously in this project by our two fantastic interns: Lillian Lowe, a Barnstable High and Saint Michael’s College graduate, and Madeline Terrio, a B.H.S. junior. This work was challenging, but also a great deal of fun. We learned so much about the Cape and Islands—this beautiful place we love so much—about the history of the region, its culture, and its people. We’re planning a staff field trip next week to visit some of the spots we have only just learned of. After reading about them in the coming pages, hopefully you will too. Maybe we’ll see you out there, on Route 28 or Route 6A, or perhaps in Eastham, taking a trip down Memory Lane.

Matthew J. Gill

Matthew Gill is the former editor of Cape Cod LIFE and Cape Cod ART magazines. A graduate of U-Mass Dartmouth, Matthew has worked as a journalist since 2003 and has written on topics ranging from the sinking of Nantucket’s whale ship Essex and the history of the Barnstable-Falmouth Thanksgiving football rivalry, to the Cotuit Rowing Club, Provincetown’s Art’s Dune Tours, and more! A relative newcomer when it comes to the Cape, Matt and his wife Melissa just celebrated a Cape Cod-themed wedding.