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A Century and Counting

Percy Patterson purchased their Craigville cottage in 1919, and their descendants—now the sixth generation in the house—proudly celebrated the home’s centennial last year. photography courtesy of Cindi Crain
Celebrating 100 years in Craigville, one family looks back on their treasured memories with a book filled with history, nostalgia and joy.

Who among us is not intimately familiar with the bittersweet moment when you finish reading a book—that sense of accomplishment mingled with a longing for the world in which you have become so entrenched. In just the span of a few pages, a few hours reading in the garden or under the covers late at night with a flashlight, you become enraptured by the thoughtful words of an author or the carefully placed photos of a story. A book holds you in its grasp even after there are no more words to read, and as you shake off those lingering tendrils of alluring influence, you find yourself wishing, quite simply, for more. Luckily, Merrilee Patterson Crain’s book, “The Cottage,” doesn’t end on the last page. Her literary dive into the wonders of Craigville and the joys of a family cottage on Cape Cod lives on in every scoop of ice cream from Four Seas, every salty splash of a wave along Craigville Beach and every squeal of a child with a summer tan and unyielding determination to outrun bedtime. 

“My mom was passionate about our family’s history, and she loved spending time with her grandmother Mabel at the house in Craigville,” says her daughter, Cindi Crain. “Mom wanted to preserve the memories and the history of that place, and she was the perfect person to do it because she was so detail oriented.” Merrilee presented her book to her family on Christmas day, 2008. She passed away just four years later. To honor her, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Patterson family home in Craigville last year, Cindi reproduced Merrilee’s masterpiece, adding photos and gently editing Merrilee’s treasured memories. “The Cape still doesn’t feel quite right without her,” writes Cindi in the forward to the reissued book. “Perhaps it was she who loved the cottage the most. We know she would have thrown the party of the century honoring our family’s 100th anniversary, so mom this milestone celebration is for you.”

Merrilee’s grandparents, Mabel and Percy Patterson, purchased their Craigville cottage for just $4,025 in 1919. Since that day, six generations of Patterson descendants have spent long summer nights listening to the nearby waves along the beach, reveling in the peaceful moments, and enjoying the special affinity the Cape has for bringing families together. Merrilee’s earliest memories of arriving at the cottage are likely familiar to anyone who has spent time—however short—breathing that distinct Cape Cod salt air. Her recollections carry echoes of what it truly means to adore the Cape, and beyond that, to care for a Cape home and all of the unique history that comes with it (read: shag carpets, weathered shingles and well-loved porches). “Driving along the roads, sand increasing on the shoulders of the road—telling me we were getting closer to our beloved beach—and the Cape Black Pines getting thicker and thicker as we drove on to Craigville,” she writes. “My heart would be pounding with excitement as we pulled up to the shingled cottage’s façade with light aqua-green shutters; seeing the cement steps leading to the porch that went the full width of the little cottage and then bent around the corner to create a side porch; seeing the lawn, usually dry with tufts of coarse Cape grass poking through the sand, and finally opening the front screen door, then the Dutch door, to smell the cottage’s lingering familiar aroma of dark green grass rugs on the floor.” 

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