Friday, June 22, 2018

Provincetown's Portuguese Festival Offers Great Food, with Plenty of Free Events and Entertainment for the Whole Family!

The Portuguese flag welcomes visitors from around the world to Provincetown,
Provincetown's 2018 Portuguese Festival is underway with some 30 events on the schedule, as you'll see below, many of them free and open to the public.
Highlights will include entertainment for kids and adults, a parade on Commercial Street, the 71st Blessing of the Fleet, and, of course, the food!

There will be opportunities all around the town to enjoy authentic Portuguese cuisine. I never miss the Portuguese Soup Tasting, which will be today from noon till 3 PM at the Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief Park, across Bradford Street from Town Hall.
There will be dancing to live bands, performances by Portuguese dancers in costume, comedy and much more, with 5 events and shows especially for kids. The celebration began last night with food and dancing, and will continue all weekend.
Saturday evening's Fado Concert is not to be missed, and Sunday afternoon will bring an old-fashioned outdoor band concert, in front of Town Hall. Below is a bit of info from the Festival website, including the full schedule of events and performances from now through Sunday evening. Get out and enjoy as many as you can!

2018 Portuguese Festival & Blessing of the Fleet
People come from around the world to celebrate Portuguese heritage and culture at the annual Provincetown Portuguese Festival & Blessing of the Fleet.

The annual Festival is four days of live music, dancing, parades, incredible food, games and more. With over 30 mostly free activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Festival Weekend is capped off with The Blessing of The Fleet where boats decked out in their finest line up to receive the blessing for a safe & prosperous year. We invite you to join us June 21 through June 24 and share the heritage!
Friday, June 22, 2018
12:00pm - 2:00pm
Capt. Ken Silva Fishing Derby for Kids at MacMillan Pier. A Free event!

12:00pm - 3:00pm
Portuguese Soup Tasting the Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. It features soup from fine restaurants in Provincetown, Truro & Wellfleet! Entertainment at the Bas Relief by the Dory Bar Blues Band. Tickets at the door.

12:00pm - 5:00pm
Face Painting in Portuguese Square. A Free event!

2:00pm - 4:00pm
Portuguese Writers & Poets read at the Harbor Lounge. Harbor Lounge is located at 359 Commercial street across from the Public Library. A free event!

2:30pm - 4:00pm
The Great Lobster Crate Race for kids of all ages at MacMillan Pier. A free event!

3:00pm - 6:00pm
Music & Dancing on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

5:00pm - 8:00pm
The Lobster Pot restaurant & Cape Tip Seafood presents the Lobster Bake in Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. Feast on lobsters and more plus a cash bar for oysters, clams and shrimp. Beer & Wine available too. No Reservations required. Tickets At The Door. Brought to you by The Lobster Pot and Cape Tip Seafoods.

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Music for all ages with Cape Verdean music with Danny Carvalho and Band on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

8:00pm - 10:00pm
Music for all ages with the great Capitalistas on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

9:00pm - 1:00am
Homecoming Get Together with the Old Jug Band at Bubala's By The Sea. A Free event!

Saturday, June 23, 2018
10:00am - 12:00pm
Motta Family Kids Games & Cookout at Motta Field. A great place for the whole family to enjoy fun and food. A free event!

10:30am - 2:00pm
Live Entertainment and Portuguese Dancers in Portuguese Square. Free!

11:30am - 7:30pm
Lions Club Portuguese Food Court in Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. A feast of Portuguese food and more plus beer, wine and music. Food & Beverages are priced individually. No cover charge!

2:00pm - 4:00pm
Entertainment for kids of all ages by the Toe Jam Puppet Band. A favorite with the little ones! It’s on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

3:00pm - 5:00pm
Portuguese Festival Parade on Commercial Street. A highlight of the Festival with a fantastic group of Dancers, Musicians, Floats and more will start at the Harbor Hotel and travel through town to Franklin Street. Come early to get a good spot!

4:30pm - 5:30pm
Entertainment in Portuguese Square continues A Free event!

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Comedy by the Portuguese Kids in the Lions Club Portuguese Food Court under the Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. A free event!

7:30pm - 9:30pm
An early evening FADO concert at the Provincetown Town Hall. Courtesy of the Provincetown Banner, enjoy amazing performances of traditional Portuguese folk music by Celia Maria, Sonia Bettencourt, Sandi Batista and  Daniel Guerra. Accompanied in the guitar by Viriato Ferreira and directly from Portugal Louie’s da Silva and our own Viriato Ferreira! Contributions at the door are appreciated! Town Hall is a handicapped accessible building.

9:00pm - 12:30am
Cap off a great day with live SAMBA music under the stars! Join the fun and dance the night away in Portuguese Square. A free event!

Sunday, June 24, 2018
10:30am - 11:30am
Fishermen’s Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown. Celebrated by Bishop Edgar M. daCunha S.D.V

11:30am - 12:30pm
Portuguese Dancers perform authentic routines wearing fabulous costumes in Lopes Square while you wait for the Procession. A free event!

12:00pm - 1:00pm
After Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church a Procession leaves as a group for the short walk to MacMillan Pier for the 71st annual Blessing of the Fleet. They are bearing banners that honor the fishing fleet past & present.

12:00pm - 4:00pm
TASCA Portuguese Cafe on MacMillan Pier. Sample the taste of Portugal with a host of delicacies including a Beer & Wine cash bar!

1:00pm - 3:00pm
Follow up the Blessing with Portuguese Music and Dancers! They are performing out on MacMillan Pier. A free event!

71st Blessing Of The Fleet. Honoring a tradition in Provincetown, boats decked out in their finest parade before Bishop Edgar Da Cunha S.D.V. to receive their blessing. The fleet will be judged for their decorations too. A free event!

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Enjoy a Traditional Band Concert in front of Town Hall featuring St. Anthony’s Band from Cambridge, its a free event!

4:00pm - 7:00pm
Get Together and celebrate the last day of the Festival at the Governor Bradford. Ed Sheridan and friends will be performing live. A free event!

Planning for 2019? We'll see you for the 2019 Festival June 20 - 23!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Take a Peek Inside One of Provincetown's Famous Dune Shacks

Dune Shack Kitchen, Provincetown
My cheeks are beginning to cramp up a bit, because I haven't stopped grinning since the day I discovered this splendid bit of Provincetown nostalgia. I wish I knew who to credit for this photo, which speaks volumes about the history of the dunes without uttering a single word. I found it on the Provincetown Photography Page on Facebook, posted by a man who had found it online, with no information on its provenance.
I was a tour guide on Art's Dune Tours for a few years, and I certainly miss being out there every day, amongst those enormous, sandy hillsides, the wildlife, splendid vegetation, endless vistas of the Atlantic, and most of all, the rambling dune shacks dotting the hills and flats. I would occasionally be asked to drive a shack-dweller into the dunes to spend the week in one of these crude huts, an assignment that I relished. I sometimes got to see inside one shack or another as I helped my passengers carry in things they'd need in a remote little shelter without electricity or even the simplest amenities.
C-scape Dune Shack, photo by Jamia Kelly, shows Pilgrim Monument on the
distant horizon in this lovely view over the dunes toward Provincetown Harbor.
Click to enlarge this photo for a closer look at this venerable shack.
Driving these folks back from their respite, I was regaled with tales of glorious sunrises, the smells of beach roses and wildflowers bursting open, and tastes of blueberries and beach plums found on a hike. Stories of wildlife abound, from the scurrying field mice who share most of these primitive shelters, to foraging deer in the forested spots, or gray seals swimming down the beach every night as the sun sizzles into the ocean and twilight takes over.
The moment I saw this charming photo I knew I was looking through the window of one of the famous dune shacks where the likes of Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, Norman Mailer, Lillian Hellman and countless other writers had visited, stayed and worked. In the quiet solitude if the dunes, they were inspired by the sights, smells and sensations of this unique refuge. Nearly every important American writer of the early 1900s sought a bit of solitude in these dunes, and artists flocked there as well. Probably the most universally known artist to have taken inspiration here was abstract painter Jackson Pollock.
Click on the dune tour link above to watch a five-minute video showing you a bit of that adventure led by Rob Costa, whose father, Art, started these trips through the dunes in 1939. You can also reserve a tour of the sand dunes for yourself on this site.
Click this link Dune Shacks: taste of Cape Cods' floating & well-aged homes for a 27-minute video, hosted by a man with current dwelling rights. He'll take you out walking the dunes and beach, learning some of the history of these remarkable shacks, and looking inside the dwelling that his family has been preserving for the better part of the last century. I highly recommend this video.
If you're hardy enough you can walk out into the dunes to spot some of these enchanting shacks yourself. Please try to stay on the trails and avoid trampling the grasses and plant life, and be sure not to disturb folks who might be staying in any one of these primitive shanties. You can also take the dune tour to get out there. It will take you very close to a number of these wonderful shacks.

Friday, May 25, 2018

See World Class Entertainment Over Four-Day PTown Memorial Day Bash

Kick off the new season with great entertainment over the four-day weekend celebrating Memorial Day in Provincetown. It starts with rollicking comedy at the Post Office Cabaret. Two of PTown's favorite stand-up comics will each make appearances every day of this fun, extended weekend. Click for tickets or visit the box office at 303 Commercial Street.

 This summer it will be very exciting to see the Pilgrim House reclaim its identity as a premier entertainment venue in Provincetown, and it all starts with the fabulous Miss Richfield 1981 moving her unique, hilarious mix of comedy, song and audience interaction to this stage with her all new show "Born Again." Click below to get tickets early for Saturday, May 26th or Sunday, May 27th at 8:30 PM. Both are likely to sell out. Find the Pilgrim House at the end of the footpath at 336 Commercial Street.
Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th, 8:30 PM at Pilgrim House

Mark Cortale Productions and the Art House present blockbuster music and comedy this weekend with Melissa Ferrick and multiple award-winning comic and PTown favorite Judy Gold, each appearing at the Art House on Saturday night. The Grammy Award-winning Indigo Girls will perform Sunday night at Town Hall at 6 PM. Their opening act will be our own Zoe Lewis, a "band in a body."
All three of these Memorial Day Weekend shows are one night only, with Judy Gold returning to perform late June through August, along with some 30 more artists playing at the Art House throughout the summer, so bookmark the schedule and check it often, In the meantime, see these shows while you can.
Click above for performer profiles and links to tickets for each show

The Crown & Anchor complex, at 247 Commercial Street, has so many events going on for the four-day holiday weekend that it's hard to even list them all here. 16 parties, events and performances will take place between now and Monday evening, starting with singer/comic Julie Wheeler performing tonight thru Monday at 7 PM in the Cabaret Room, followed by Rise Up, the kickoff party for Memorial Day Weekend, starting at 9 PM tonight in the Paramount Room. 
There are more dance parties scheduled in the evenings, as well as a pool party Sunday afternoon. The legendary Illusions Drag Revue and the fabulous Thirsty Burlington will each perform Saturday and Sunday nights. Bobby Wetherbee brings his award-winning piano bar and sing-along to the Dive Bat tonight thru Sunday with no cover charge, and Doug Repetti will be on the piano Monday and Tuesday nights. Check the schedule, and follow the links there to get tickets, or stop by the box office at the edge of the Crown's new pet friendly patio and outdoor grill.
Click for parties, events and performance schedules

Get your summer started right. Look over the schedules, make a spreadsheet if you have to, and get to as many of these venues as you can for shows, parties and more taking place all over Provincetown, all weekend. For events requiring tickets, get 'em now! (Julie Wheeler, for example, is sold out for tonight, but she'll do three more shows.) There are dozens of events here for you to enjoy.
Have fun, be careful, be kind to each other, and have a great holiday.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Outer Cape Chorale Spring Concert Soars

The annual spring concert of the Outer Cape Chorale and Chamber Singers is, as usual, fabulous! You still have a chance to catch their Saturday evening performance in PTown or their Sunday afternoon performance in Orleans. Make sure you get out and enjoy  this unique Cape Cod event.
Here's how their website describes this concert:

A program of choral music inspired by the beauty of Cape Cod - Featuring Ronald Perera’s Why I Wake Early, based on the poetry of Mary Oliver, and a program of songs, composers, and more – all from or about our beloved Cape Cod!
Saturday May 19th at 7:00 PM, Provincetown Town Hall
Sunday May 20th at 3:00 PM, Nauset Regional Middle School, Orleans
This is a free concert with donations gratefully accepted. It is always one of the year's most highly anticipated events, so be sure not to miss it!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Coffee Pot Opens for 29th Season, Signaling Spring in Provincetown

The Coffee Pot's "Rescue Squad" breakfast sandwich is among the best in town.
One sure sign of spring in Provincetown is The Coffee Pot opening up for the new season. This will be their 29th summer serving breakfast, lunch, supper and fresh baked goods, right in the heart of PTown.
You'll find them at the edge of Lopes Square, just before MacMillan Pier, and right across from the Chamber of Commerce.
Even though their address is listed on Commercial Street, you'll find Coffee Pot by walking toward the pier and the harbor from the corner of Commercial and Standish streets. It's a Provincetown thing. They're in the center of a long, narrow building that once stretched all the way from Commercial Street to the beach, so the entire building still retains the old Commercial Street address.
Each year, as spring billows into Provincetown, The Coffee Pot is one of the first spots to open. I'm always eager to have my first breakfast sandwich after the long winter without one. I usually make my first order a Rescue Squad with cheddar. This may be the most satisfying breakfast sandwich on the cape. I'm pretty sure it's the biggest.
They take a really big sub roll and toast it on the grill while the eggs, sausage and bacon are cooking. In go three large eggs, two big sausage patties side by side, and 3 slices of bacon, cooked just right. Two slices of cheese complete the sandwich. I order mine with cheddar. I usually get the eggs cooked as a fluffy omelet, but this day I had 'em fried. I paired my breakfast with a nice, robust cup of coffee. For me, it's dark roast all the way.

Omelet-style egg, slices of grilled deli ham, cheese, of course - Breakfast # 5
Now I'm jonesing for a ham and egg and cheddar on a croissant. And a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa rolled in a tortilla. Add meat if you'd like, but I kind of like it without. You can also get your basic plate of eggs, home fries and toast for $5.99. That's a PTown bargain.
Breakfast sandwiches are a natural for takeout, and if you call ahead, Nelson and Linda and the gang can have your food ready when you get there to pick it up. Call 508•487•2580. Or make it a sit-down affair in their dining room with picture windows looking out onto Lopes Square, or you can have your meal in the sun and the breeze of their open air patio, which welcomes well behaved pets.
They also make a great lunch for after your whale watch, but we'll talk about that another day.
Enjoy your meal, and have a glorious day in Provincetown!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

See (or Be) the UU Meeting House Annual Talent/No-Talent Show on Sat., May 12th

Come and see the show at the UU Meeting House, at 336 Commercial Street, or sign up to be part of the show yourself. Whether you are quite talented, or, not so much, you can perform before a supportive audience of folks who are likely to applaud anything. Groups as well as solo acts are welcome.
Are you secretly a comic? Do you sing a little, dance like a dream, read poetry, or have no discernible talent whatsoever but want to play your banjo solo anyway? Sign up by calling Char at 508•487•4193, or e-mail her at
You'll want to be there by 6:00 PM with dessert or finger food to share in the "bistro" that will be set up for the evening, but don't be late because the show starts at 6:30. Come even earlier if you want to help set up the bistro and theater.
The evening will also feature an auction for services that will be sold to the highest bidder. You can offer a service yourself by e-mailing Will at, or call him at 310•486•2900. Or perhaps you'll win the bid for someone to come and clean out your rain gutters, or do your grocery shopping, crochet an afghan or bake you some cookies. There's no telling what sort of services might be auctioned off.
So get to the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House on Saturday and have some fun. Those folks are among the most vital champions of just about every Provincetown group or cause you can name, and they certainly deserve our support.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Wednesday May 9, Join the Walk in Beech Forest, Find Sites of Mary Oliver's Poetry

You'll likely spot this fellow, or some of his friends and neighbors, on a walk through Beach Forest.
On a walk through Beech Forest you get a chance to use all of your senses. You can't walk more than a few yards without spotting, and hearing, a diverse assortment of wildlife. Some will be scurrying away from you, through the underbrush and tangles of vines, and some will be dive-bombing you from branches overhead when they fear you've come too close to a nest full of eggs or chicks.
The smell of damp grasses after a spring rain, or of young buds becoming blossoms, can rush back to you long years later and put a fresh smile on your face. In Beech Forest, at various "right moments" of the year, you can even taste a few of the marvels growing around you.

Beach Forest is full of sights and sounds of wildlife, like this chipmunk photobombing my trail shot.

Here, on walks alone, I can feel a sort of necessary solitude, among friends. I feel quite lucky to have one of my favorite momentary getaways so close to home. It seems to me no wonder that renowned poet Mary Oliver has found inspiration, and done some writing, on what must be countless Beech Forest walks.
Checking the weekly events section of the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House site, as I do, I found a blurb about tomorrow's walk in the forest, visiting sites of the poetry of Mary Oliver. That blurb led me to the site of the Outer Cape Chorale, where I found this invitation for all of us to join in:
Walk: The Poetry of Mary Oliver at Blackwater Pond, May 9, 1:00 pm. 1 ½ hours, 1 mile.
Ranger Jody Anastasio and writer Kathleen Henry, both members of the Outer Cape Chorale, will explore the place that inspired several of Mary Oliver’s poems.  Reflect on the natural elements that play into pieces from the upcoming Outer Cape Chorale concerts.  If you would like, bring your favorite Mary Oliver poem to share.  Meet at the Beech Forest Trail parking area, Race Point Road, Provincetown.
The UU has a great event coming up. More about that here tomorrow night, or click the UUMH link above, but be sure to save the date this coming Saturday night.
The OCC is preparing for their upcoming spring concert on May 18th, 19th and 20th. Again, I'll tell you more later, or you can click on their link above. As mentioned, Mary Oliver's poetry figures into this concert.
Try to get to Beech Forest tomorrow. When will be the next time you'll have a chance to join an event like this?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Bagpipe Music on Cinco de Mayo? Only in Provincetown

Dancers at the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington, D.C., photo by D. B. King
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Any excuse at all can and will be used to create a party in Provincetown. You'll likely find a celebration or two in the bars, and elsewhere as well. Today is also the Kentucky Derby.  The last couple of years I've spent it at Vorelli's, where they really get into the spirit of the race, with everyone at the bar rooting for their particular horse. Bartender Connie makes it a lot of fun, and she may even come up with a special beverage or two for these two occasions. Vorelli's is famous for great drinks and a very friendly bar.
I heard bagpipe music in the center of Provincetown for just a few minutes this afternoon. By the time I got dressed and out the door the piper was nowhere in sight, and I didn't know whether I should head east or west to try to catch up and find out what was going on. Does anybody know? Was this a funeral procession? Has the fellow who piped here many years ago returned? Was this meant as an ironic giggle celebrating Cinco de Mayo?
As a whole, we Americans  are woefully ignorant of other cultures. We use the occasion of Cinco de Mayo as a reason to chug-a-lug a good bit of tequila or Corona, and we eat tacos and burritos, the same way we slug down green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick's Day. There's nothing wrong with that, but we're co-opting another country's holiday without really knowing anything about it. And most of us do have it wrong.
Here's a partial list of goofy (dare I say stupid?) questions posed to Google by well-meaning folks who wanted to celebrate this Mexican holiday, which actually gets more attention in the US than it does south of the border...

When is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco means five in Spanish, de Mayo means of May, so, the 5th of May is Cinco de Mayo, and that’s when it’s celebrated.

Where is Cinco de Mayo?
Is that a trick question? Where are you? If, on May 5th, you are somewhere that recognizes the 365 days of the year, chances are, Cinco de Mayo is wherever you might be. If in doubt, stop in at any neighborhood bar and inquire.

What is Cinco de Mayo in Spanish?
            Cinco de Mayo.

When is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Mexico?
            On Cinco de Mayo.

When is Cinco De Mayo in the US?
            On Cinco de Mayo

When is Cinco de Mayo in  Portland, Oregon?
Actually, Cinco de Mayo runs from May 4th through the 6th in Portland this year. Turns out this is the largest multicultural festival in the state of Oregon, held on its downtown waterfront, and it is definitely a bigger celebration than those typically held in Mexico.

Is Cinco de Mayo Racist?
No, but donning a sombrero, a poncho and a cheesy fake mustache while speaking in a mock-Spanish accent all day might be.

And, yes, people actually asked Google:
Is Cinco de Mayo about mayonnaise?
            Seriously? No, really…

So what is Cinco de Mayo? Americans often think it is Mexico’s Independence Day, but it’s not. That’s Grito de Dolores, held on September 16th. And, no, it’s not the Day of the Dead. That’s Día de Muertos, the three-day holiday when Mexican families gather together in remembrance of deceased relatives and friends. It is usually held from October 31 to November 2.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the day in 1862 when the tiny Mexican Army, against all odds, prevailed against the powerful French fighting forces in the Battle of Puebla, a small town that was expected to fall to France that day. But the seriously outnumbered Mexican troops surprisingly won the battle, galvanizing the Mexican forces.
When the French returned a year later and easily seized the town, Cinco de Mayo may have lost a bit of its luster. It is considered a minor holiday in Mexico, but now it  is probably celebrated in America with more gusto than anywhere else in the world. Here’s how that happened…
During the 1960s, many Mexican-American civil rights activists began using the occasion as a source of pride. By 1989, a shrewd importer of Mexican beers launched a holiday ad campaign aimed at Latinos, but eventually ads in magazines, newspapers, and on TV garnered a much wider audience.
Fast-forward to the year 2013, when, despite the growing criticism of cultural stereotypes unleashed for a day every May 5th, this holiday had become part of the annual party circuit in the US. That year Cinco de Mayo beer sales reached $600 million, far outstripping Saint Patrick’s Day and the Super Bowl!
There’s nothing wrong with a party on someone else’s holiday, and the world should celebrate other cultures and their heroes, but let’s be respectful of others and their traditions. Let's spend a moment thinking about the soldiers that fought that day, on both sides, and lets think twice before doing, saying or wearing something that might advance racist stereotypes.

Now, how about a margarita? In fact, how about some carnitas tacos or pozole verde at the Central House? The Crown & Anchor’s restaurant has changed their menu a bit for the spring, reflecting a bit of the heritage of Chef De Cuisine Edwin Amaro. He offers an all-day menu Friday through Sunday featuring a couple of Mexican entrées amongst the traditional American dishes and seafood.
When the new menu came out I was so happy to see that Thursday is still Mexican Night. A salad served with your choice of seven Mexican entrées is just $18. I can’t wait for Thursday to roll around. I love Mexican food, and I’m nurturing a genuine, growing affection for the culture, too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Red Inn Kicks Of Their 2018 Season With Tonight's Opening Party

One of PTown's most charming spots is The Red Inn, officially opening tonight!
The party that officially opens The Red Inn for the new season is always one of the most anticipated events of springtime in Provincetown.
Tonight, the dining rooms, decks and grounds of this world-renowned restaurant and inn will be filled with people greeting old friends as they drink in the fabulous view of Provincetown Harbor from every corner of this charming waterfront venue.
Folks will be reveling in the music, dancing to the beat, perhaps having a beverage or two, and, of course, enjoying some of the wonderful food that brings such acclaim to this revered, beloved, PTown landmark.
The Red Inn's opening party marks the true season opening for many of us.
Tent tops are raised and a special outdoor dance floor has been assembled for the occasion. All are invited to enjoy the hospitality of The Red Inn as they kick off the 2018 season.
There will be music, hors d'oeuvre and dancing on the edge of Provincetown Harbor. There's simply no better way to spend your evening.

Remember to wear sensible shoes, not only for the dancing, but for the floors. Parts of The Red Inn are more than 200 years old, and spiked heels might be a little too cruel for some of the gorgeous, wide-plank flooring. The special dance floor installed over part of the lawn for this evening is also not meant for spiky shoes, so, please, no stilettos.
Beginning tomorrow, May 3rd, The Red Inn will be open daily for the 2018 season, with their Raw Bar Happy Hour from 4 to 5 PM, featuring those famous Wellfleet oysters. Dinner service will begin every night at 5:31 PM. Time to make a reservation for a memorable dinner in a spectacular setting, or an elegant getaway overlooking magnificent Provincetown Harbor.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Happy 167th Birthday to Semen's Bank, Founded in PTown on April 14th, 1851

Treasurer William H. Young and assistant treasurer Myrick C. Young in Seamen's Bank lobby, Provincetown, ca1910. Seamen's built this new building in 1892 at 274 Commercial Street, now Cabot's Candy. In 1964 they built new facilities again, at 221 Commercial Street, now also serving as headquarters for their five branches.

On April 14th, 1851, at 99 Commercial Street, the store at the head of Union Wharf became the birthplace of Seamen's Savings Bank. It was founded as a mutual bank, meaning it was more or less owned by its members rather than a corporation seeking to make a profit from stock sales, or interest rates and fees charged to its depositors. The primary goal of this incorporation was not to amass vast profits for stockholders, of which there are none, but rather to actually serve the bank's members in their best interests. It was the first bank on Cape Cod, and it was designed to serve the needs of a burgeoning fishing industry.

Bones for the dogs, lollipops for the humans from friendly tellers at Seamen's.
The first deposit was made by Leander Rockwell, a sailor who had come here from Nova Scotia. He had entrusted 36 of his hard-earned dollars to this newfangled bank and its fledgling board of trustees.
In those days, the living of practically every Provincetown resident was tied in one way or another to the whaling and fishing industries.
Whether you actually went to sea, or made the barrels that carried the fish to market, or ran a store providing the goods to outfit various sailing vessels, your income was dependent upon the fish in the sea.
Initial depositors would prove to be mostly fishermen, sailors and whalers, and others of fairly modest means. These were average working people, often without a lot of money to put aside or to invest, despite the growth of the fishing industry, which really wouldn't hit its stride for another decade or so. These folks worked hard for every nickle they had.
When the trustees received their first complete report from the treasurer, on January 15th, 1853, depositors numbered 30, with total savings among them amounting to some $3,295. It would be about 130 years later, in the 1980s, that the bank would finally open a second branch, in Truro. Seamen's now has 5 branches stretching from Provincetown to Eastham, with more than 17,000 accounts and deposits of $275,000,000 put to work in serving the people of the entire Outer Cape.

This 1978 ad provided funds to help in documenting our trap fishing industry.
Seamen's Bank has a philanthropic bent, standing ready to support many local organizations, and particularly those helping to preserve the history and traditions of our early seafaring days, such as the annual Portuguese Festival and Blessing of the Fleet.
At the left is a simple ad that Seamen's Bank placed in Provincetown Trapboat Fishing - The End of an Era, published in 1978 by the Provincetown Historical Association. By that time this once-thrivng industry that caught schools of fish near the shoreline was all but dead. This 77-page booklet preserved methods, stories and photos of the trap fishermen, keeping this unique, important part of our coastal fishing heritage alive and vital in our collective memory.
In Charles Kaselau's painting, lifesavers rescue shipwrecked sailors.
Seamen's Bank also sponsors many community events, and supports the arts in all of its forms. From their website to their ATMs and annual reports, anything used to communicate with their customers uses local photography to enhance our experience with the bank. Whether it's an antique photo displaying a bit of history as we use the cash machine, or a sublime contemporary seascape that greets us as we log on to check our account balances online, we always come away enriched.
Every trip to the bank feels like a visit to an art gallery. Each wall seems to be graced with the works of local artists, with most paintings portraying some part of our seafaring heritage.
We thank and congratulate Seamen's Bank and its amiable, dedicated employees, and celebrate their 167 years of outstanding service to Provincetown and the Outer Cape.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Goodbye to This Odd Winter, the 100th Anniversary of PTown's Worst on Record

This was quite an odd winter, with mostly mild weather, peppered with occasional back-to-back nights of bitter cold, interspersed with temperatures in the 40s. That's not to mention four nor'easters in the space of a couple of weeks, though the fourth one was barely more than a drenching, blustering inconvenience. The first three each knocked out the power throughout the town, then teased us with just enough electricity to put on a pot of coffee, followed by several more dreary hours without light or heat, another moment or hour of power, another day without heat, and so on.
I've got to say, the eleventh time my electricity went off, I began to get discouraged. We were lucky the temperatures stayed above freezing for most of that. Even so, I was sleeping in a stocking cap, a jacket with a hood, and gloves, all tucked under a stack of thermal blankets and down quilts, barely able to move. Every few minutes the windows rattled under the force of the wind, and a few times the whole building actually shook a little.

This 1918 photo of Robert Lewis was taken by his father, Captain William Lewis,
on the tidal flats at the foot of Cook Street. The ice stood 10 feet, two inches high.
Without community radio station WOMR, and the distant, scratchy NPR broadcasts from Boston on my little pocket radio keeping me company, I'd have lost it.
Still, it could have been worse...
A few years back I wrote about an extended, bitter cold snap that occurred 100 years ago.
This was perhaps the most trying stretch of winter weather PTown residents have ever endured. Here's a recap:
Around this time in 1918 Provincetown residents were bearing up under cruel winds in subfreezing temperatures, and most were truly struggling to keep warm. In an article written about this extended cold snap, The Advocate, a weekly Provincetown newspaper at the time, reported “With the exception of a mere handful of days, ice has continued to form in day or night almost constantly on the shore of Cape Cod Bay since early in January."
The extraordinary cold had formed chunks of ice more than ten feet tall, drifting and bobbing out beyond Long Point on Cape Cod Bay, and along the shoreline of Provincetown and Truro. As strong, steady winds developed, they pushed those massive chunks of ice past the Long Point Light and into Provincetown Harbor. Each low tide left giant ice floes resting on the tidal flats along the waterfront.
In an eight-day stretch of extreme cold the town had exhausted its entire supply of coal, the main fuel used for heating in those days. The paper said “Taken all together it was the most disagreeable eight days endured by the community within recollection.” The coal barges attempting to make deliveries were unable to steer through the thousands of tons of huge, treacherous chunks of ice that we're choking the harbor. It had become impossible for the ships to deliver the coal that the town so desperately needed.
Ice of this sort is also dangerous. On Valentine's Day, a large ice floe drifting near the mouth of the harbor had been driven by prevailing winds toward the shoreline at 571 Commercial Street, where the old fish shack at the end of Lewis Wharf had been converted to a theater for the Provincetown Players a couple of years earlier. The force of tons of ice pushing against the pilings of the old wharf threatened to destroy the magical spot where the career of unknown playwright Eugene O'Neill had been launched in the summer of 1916. Although the structure was sturdy enough to survive this onslaught, it was indeed ice in the harbor that demolished the wharf in the winter of 1921.
In the photo above we see some of the enormous chunks of ice that smothered the harbor in that dreadful winter of 1918, resting on the flats at low tide. Those solidly frozen, ten-foot, two-inch thick slabs behind young Robert Lewis created tremendous physical hardships for townsfolk, and wreaked havoc on their economy. Not only were fuel barges turned away by the ice, but the fishing fleet was kept ashore for more than 30 days as well. The harbor was simply unnavigable. Even though the weather eventually began to turn a tiny bit warmer, massive chunks of ice like these would take a long time to melt, and in the meantime, no ships were able to sail in or out of Provincetown.
When a northeast wind finally breached the ice and began pushing it, little by little, toward Truro, the harbor once again became passable, but the exceptional cold and a frozen harbor had made January, February, and a good bit of March of 1918, the most brutal winter in Provincetown's memory.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PTown's Most Unusual "Dinner and a Movie" Can be Found This Weekend at Ross' Grill and Waters Edge Cinema

A splendid fennel bisque, a Soup du Jour at Ross' that I hope to taste again one day.
Ross' Grill is open again after their annual brief closing during January. You'll find them on the second floor of the Whalers Wharf, looking out over Provincetown's lovely harbor.
Ross' Grill is currently open Friday through Sunday for lunch from noon to 2:30 PM, with tapas from 3 to 5 PM, and serving dinner, 5:30 to 9 PM.
There's a special event going on this weekend, and a unique menu you'll want to sample.
February 23rd through 25th we'll get a chance to taste Puerto Rican and Bulgarian dishes by Chefs César and Emil as they present their "Trust the Chef" menu, with main courses priced at just $20. Entrées from the regular dinner menu will not be served this weekend. Instead, treat yourself to something a bit more exotic from a special offering, available this weekend only.

Now for the movie...
We thank Whalers Wharf for once again bringing three great programs of Academy Award nominated short films to Provincetown. It was through theaters such as this one, repeatedly asking for the Oscar nominated shorts, that the film industry has finally made a real effort to make these films available so people could see them before award night. You won't likely find these shorts playing anywhere else within a hundred miles of PTown.

There's a program of animation, one of live action, and one of documentaries. Each program will feature several short films in its category. Audiences have given these programs a rare score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes website, so see as many as you can, while you can.
Click on this link to Waters Edge Cinema Schedule to plan a matinee (perhaps saving a dollar or two?) or an evening performance, whichever will let you fit it in with dinner at Ross' Grill, on the other end of the building. Call Ross' to make a reservation at 508•487•8878.
The Post, the First Amendment thriller starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, is a best picture nominee, also currently playing at Waters Edge. Next week they'll feature nominee Lady Bird, and likely other nominees will be coming along as well, leading up to the award show. 
Visit Ross' facebook page using your cell phone, click on the photo that has the logo on it, and save the offer you'll find there, to get half-off entrées through March.
There! Now you've got at least the next couple of weekends planned, to save a little money on some great food and entertainment, as you get out of the house for dinner and a movie.