The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cape Cod Memories

Diane and I lived on Cape Cod for 25 years, and raised our four children there before retiring to Florida in 2004. Even before I moved to the Cape, it had long been familiar to me. Indeed, some of my earliest memories include family visits to the Cape when I was just a little guy. Eventually, in the early sixties, my parents decided to settle on Cape Cod in the lovely town of Chatham. I visited them often during my college days and later with Diane and our growing family. And so it was always a special place for me and somewhere I hoped one day to live. When the opportunity arose in 1978, Diane and I decided to make the move from Southern California.

During those 25 years on Cape Cod we lived in the village of Harwich Port, in a big, old, rambling house situated about 100 yards from both Nantucket Sound and Wychmere Harbor. The oldest section of the house was built in the early 19th century, with other rooms added over the years. I often jokingly described our home as "11 one-room houses hammered together" -- actually a fitting description. Despite its age and the frequent problems with which such an old house presented us, it was a wonderful place to live and bring up our children. But once they were grown and on their own, we decided it was time to downsize and head south where we'd never again have to endure another New England winter. 

When I was younger, I enjoyed all four seasons, especially winter, but with age the cold weather began to take its toll on both my body and my psyche. And the thought of shoveling snow just didn't mesh with my retirement plans. Of course our decision to retire to Florida was at least partly influenced by Diane's Florida roots. She is a fifth generation Floridian who willingly and amazingly agreed to live in the cold north until her husband saw the error of his ways. I suppose it was only fair that I should follow her south as she had followed me north.

Our decision to move south at retirement was, however, driven as much by the Cape's high cost of living as by the lure of warm weather. When as a child I first visited Cape Cod back in 1950, it was a very different place, a string of rural, seaside villages much more like the idyllic spot described in the vintage Patti Page song. 

Since those early days the population has grown, the larger towns have become urbanized, and the old conservative Cape Codders have died off, replaced by transplants (like me) seeking the good life. The physical and political landscape of Cape Cod has changed and many of the small towns have sacrificed their charm. But even with the inevitable changes, Cape Cod continued to offer the good life to those who could afford it. Sadly, as the cost of housing and tax rates rose to ever increasing highs, many people found living on Cape Cod to be prohibitively expensive. It certainly affected our decision.

I suppose we were also influenced by the gradual disappearance of so much that for us typified Cape Cod. For example, when we first moved to Harwich Port, Diane and I would often walk to the neighboring Thompson's Clam Bar, and enjoy a cold drink and a plate of littleneck clams, perhaps the tastiest little critters God ever placed in the sea. The Thompson brothers' establishment was a true Cape institution, and anyone who visited the Cape back in those days likely enjoyed a meal at the Clam Bar in Harwich Port, probably because they had heard its ad on local radio and been captivated by the catchy little jingle that every Cape Codder knew by heart. You can listen to the jingle below. Alas, Thompson's Clam Bar no longer exists, but their jingle can still be heard on YouTube.

And now, here we are, visiting Harwich once again, staying in the home of our dear friends, looking out the window at the rain and wind and wishing it were about 30 degrees warmer. Wait a is 30 degrees warmer, in Florida.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dana,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Harwich Port to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)