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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This Photo Captures Provincetown's Amazing Sand Dunes at Their Finest

At Dune Shacks Trail, by Mark Anthony Lynett, Provincetown Photography Page, Facebook.
This stunning photo is among the most remarkable images of Provincetown's spectacular dunes that I have ever seen. It was taken by Mark Anthony Lynett as he was hiking over a windswept hill, the first to make the trek since the blowing sands had last erased the evidence of any other beings who had walked this way.
He was kind enough to share it on Facebook, on the Provincetown Photography Page, where amazing photos of the harbor beaches, wildlife in the forests, the sun rising and setting, or a thousand other splendid, poignant images routinely appear, reminding us of the many reasons we live here, or visit when we can.
The Provincetown Photography Page is a public group with more than 12,000 members who range from amateurs to hobbyists to professional photographers who, together, have posted more than 106,000 photos of this place we all love. It is well worth looking up.
Warning - bring a cup of coffee or drinking water with you when you visit this page, and you may even want to pack a lunch, because you'll be here much longer than you can imagine, unable to stop looking at "just one more..."

Friday, January 19, 2018

Harbor Ice Lingers After Storm as Flooded Provincetowners Shovel Out

The Truro shoreline, and My Yot in the ice, seen from the beach at St Mary's Church.
Former fishing vessel My Yot was seen in Provincetown Harbor surrounded by sea ice last Saturday. From Saint Mary's beach, looking toward the Truro shoreline, the anchored boat appeared to float gently amidst the gradually melting floes of ice left behind after the so-called "bomb cyclone" storm that had ripped its way up the East Coast the week before.
A weather condition known as bombogenesis occurs when a very big drop in air pressure happens in a very short period of time, creating a storm of explosive strength. The sudden drop in pressure causes air to be drawn spiraling into the center of the growing storm, only to be rapidly pushed out through the top of the system.
If the amount of air being sucked into the storm can't keep up with the amount being blown out of the top, the pressure drops even farther and the system grows that much bigger, sucking in more air from farther, and still farther away. Our storm was so strong that it drew in moist air from as far away as the Caribbean.

Folks, and pets, are happy to walk on the beach again, as ice shifts with the tides.
Bombogenesis is achieved when the air pressure drops at least 24 millibars over a period of 24 hours. In this storm, there was a pressure drop of 59 millibars in those 24 hours, which set us up for a storm so strong that it may actually have broken previous records.
PTown saw storm surge and flooding, window-rattling winds and some very cold temperatures, yet we came out pretty well, since the heart of the storm was very far out to sea, where scientists estimated possible 50-foot waves. A blizzard warning had been issued from Virginia to eastern Maine. Even parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina got six inches of snow, which is a huge struggle for them.
JFK airport had to be closed for a bit due to 55 mph winds, Islip airport on Long Island got snow at the rate of about three inches per hour, the shoreline and islands of Massachusetts recorded winds over 70 mph, and as the storm was strengthening in New England, Boston was nearing tides at an all-time record high.

Harbor colors are actually enhanced with all the white spots to play on at sunset.
Communities farther inland got their share of extreme weather out of this event, too. Immense temperature drops were felt from the East Coast to the Midwest as this epic storm jostled the polar vortex.
It pulled in masses of frigid air from Siberia, the North Pole and Greenland all at once, causing a rapid drop in normal, regional winter temperatures by as much as 40 degrees in some spots.

So PTown really was quite lucky, despite flooding in many Commercial Street businesses, homes, restaurants, and the UU Meetinghouse. We live in a town where the electricity goes out when someone sneezes in Wellfleet, yet we escaped the serious, lengthy outages that are so dangerous in extremely cold weather.
All in all, we did alright. And as temperatures warmed up a bit, folks could get back to strolling along the harbor, stepping around the ice floes that settle on the flats when the tide rolls out, and enjoying these spectacular, unusual sights.

If the beach becomes impassable, take the stairway up to Fanizzi's, reopening today.
As we were reaching low tide on this day, the sun was getting ready to set as well, making for some lovely scenes of sea ice glistening as it came to rest on the tidal flats circling around Provincetown Harbor.
The beach in front of Fanizzi's had slowly begun taking on its usual late-afternoon pinkish, golden glow, but with a lot of extra sparkles and colors appearing in that rare, temporary art form that Mother Earth had floated on the water for us.
After closing while they worked to recover from heavy flooding and storm damage, today sees Fanizzi's Restaurant once again opening its doors, resuming their usual schedule, complete with early bird specials, Friday Night Fish Fry, Sunday Brunch, that stunning view, and all the things that make this resilient little spot a favorite neighborhood hangout. Stop in and warm up a bit if you get a little chilled on your beach walk.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Spotted on MacMillan Pier in Provincetown...

A pure white pigeon shares the rooftop of a pier shed with more common fellows.
Keeping a camera handy always pays off in PTown, whether you run into an exquisitely sequined drag queen strolling Commercial Street on a summer's day, or come across a snow-white pigeon perched among the common gray ones on a tiny rooftop.
They've all poofed out their feathers as much as possible against the frigid winds, as snow flurries collect on the shingles of an artist's shed on the pier. There's something lovely about the gray ones as well, and the nearly colorless sky makes this a monochrome moment I was glad I could preserve in this usually colorful town by the sea.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Saint Mary's Begins 28th Season of Winter Community Luncheons in Provincetown

Now through February, St Mary's will serve lovely Saturday lunches at no charge.
Weekly community luncheons will begin for the winter season this Saturday, January 6th, 2018, at Saint Mary of the Harbor Episcopal Church, with everyone invited.
Join your neighbors for a home cooked meal at St Mary's every Saturday from noon to 1 PM during January and February.
Volunteers prepare and serve specialty dishes of various church members featuring a different favorite recipe whipped up every Saturday. Each meal begins with a crisp garden salad.
The delicious hot lunch pictured here is Priscilla Jackett's famous tandoori chicken, baked in the oven with multicolored bell peppers, tomato, onion, mushrooms, celery, and just a bit of spice. It was served with brown rice, mixed winter vegetables and crusty bread. It's among the favorite dishes of regular guests.
Musicians bring over a dozen folk instruments to Saturday lunches.
There is a wonderful feeling of community here, with an amazing cross section of Provincetowners sharing communal tables, visiting with old friends, and meeting new ones, while enjoying a nice meal along with a bit of rather spirited entertainment.
Live music often gets the crowd singing along, or gets them on their feet to dance, with musicians from Cape Cod towns singing and playing a wide variety of tunes and instruments.
Of course, the view of Provincetown Harbor is superb, since the picture windows of Saint Mary's dining hall look right out over the beach, just a few feet away. Combine this scenic beauty with good food, music and friends, and you'll see why this weekly event has been so popular for all these years, now embarking on its 28th season. And the volunteers show that they are genuinely glad to have you there.

The volunteers also bring a variety of homemade treats for dessert.
Dessert is buffet trays of bite-sized sweets like brownies, bars, cookies, and cakes, so you can taste a few without going too far overboard.
Coffee and tea are served as well, and folks are encouraged to relax and chat, or to get up and dance to the music, or whatever suits them.
Everyone is invited to this wonderful, weekly community event. Saint Mary's is in Provincetown's Far East End, just beyond Howland Street. It's right on the edge of the harbor, at 517 Commercial Street.
Come and join us in he first luncheon of the New Year, and every Saturday through February.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Despite This Cold Weather, Thousands Enjoy First Light Provincetown, Our 6-Day Celebration of the New Year!

Ring in the New Year in Provincetown, with more than 70 events in our annual First Light celebration.

It's New Year's Eve, and we're right in the middle of our famed annual First Light festivities in Provincetown, where thousands have been celebrating the New Year since Thursday, with 36 more events and fireworks over the harbor still to come!
Special New Year's Eve dinners, entertainment, film, live music, galleries, parties, shopping, concerts, dancing, family fun, New Year's brunches, champagne toasts and the Polar Bear Plunge are just a few of the events (several of them free!) taking place throughout the town through Tuesday, January 2nd.
Food ranges from street festival favorites like sausages, soups, waffles and pot pies to upscale dishes like roasted quail and free range veal in a great restaurant. There will be filet mignon, truffle mac & cheese, extraordinary seafood, as well as a simple bowl of great clam chowder. Vegetarians will find plenty of choices as well.
Go online to get the complete First Light Provincetown schedule, with links to information on events, accommodations, menus, a map of the town, and dozens of ways you can join us in this spirited, joyous holiday celebration.
As usual in Provincetown, there truly is something for everyone in this 6-day festival. There are special New Year's Eve menus and complete dinners from a three-course meal for $55 to a six-course Chef's Tasting Menu and champagne toast followed by live music and dancing into the New Year for $125. There are several free or no-cover events and parties of all kinds in venues all over town, variously offering party favors, hats, noisemakers, and at some, even a bit of free champagne for those of legal age.

Suede will give her annual New Year's concert Monday at 8 PM at the Crown $ Anchor.
There are New Year's Eve parties tonight, and more special dinners and fireworks parties tomorrow night. The fireworks will be on MacMillan Pier, scheduled for 5:30 PM on New Year's Day. You can watch this great display on your own from anywhere on the beach along the Harbor, or join the festivities at a number of waterfront restaurants and clubs, like Tin Pan Alley or The Crown & Anchor.
You can support the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum with a $50 donation that will give you a fantastic view of the fireworks from high above the town on the PMPM grounds, while enjoying wine, oysters, champagne and hors d'oeuvre. Several great fundraisers for PTown organizations are held during First Light.
There are also restaurants offering their regular menus this week, in case you just want a plate of pasta or a burger, and you may even find some off-season specials. And Fanizzi's will serve an extra Sunday Buffet Brunch this week, on Monday, New Year's day, from 10 AM until 2 PM. You'll find everything from their mixed fruit bowl and pastries to mussels steamed in white wine and herbs, along with French toast (real maple syrup, or course,) various egg dishes, sausage, bacon, the pasta of the day, breakfast burritos and more. At $14.95 for all you can eat, and just $8.95 for kids, that's a PTown bargain at any time of the year.
And for those of us who might be up on New Year's Day before most folks will get out of bed, Bayside Betsy's will be serving breakfast by 8 AM.

Hot mulled wine at The Canteen's food court and holiday market will warm you up.
Shop the holiday market at the Canteen, bringing local vendors and artisans together with a food court, hot drinks, bonfires and street food, along with free events like entertainment, a fireworks-watching party, and ice skating on the beach.
Some 30 guesthouses and inns are open during First Light, along with dozens of shops and galleries, and about 40 restaurants, bars and coffee shops. There's even free parking in all town-operated lots, and Operation Safe Ride offers a free, sober ride home on New Year's Eve from 10 PM to 4 AM, provided by designated Provincetown taxi and transportation companies, even if you're living or staying as far away as Orleans.
Again, you can find out about all of these things, and more, by checking the aforementioned First Light Provincetown schedule, then come and join the celebration in our beautiful little historic fishing village by the sea.
Here's wishing us all a happy, safe, healthy, joyous New Year!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Christmas Card From Two Early Provincetown Artists

Artists Ada Gilmore and Mildred "Dolly" McMillen were among the Provincetown Printers, early 1900s.
This 1918 Christmas card depicts Provincetown artists Ada Gilmore and Mildred (Dolly) McMillen relaxing by the wood stove with their cat. Each had been in Paris studying art, and in 1914 or 1915 they moved to Provincetown together. They were among the handful of artists who developed a unique, new printmaking technique here in 1915 which became known as the Provincetown print.
It is also called a white line woodblock or woodcut print, where the artist cuts a design into a flat piece of wood using grooves to separate shapes and blocks of color. Dolly McMillen found that she still preferred working only with black ink, so that's what she pursued. The card above is her design. Now, was PICO the name of the cat, or the cottage they were living in, or some sort of Provincetown organization, or something else altogether? And why in all caps? Guesses, anyone? Please comment below.
As the new year rolls around I want to feature some of the gorgeous white line prints I've dug up recently. In the meantime, you can click on the following link, or just google white line woodblock prints to find dozens of fine examples, many of them portraying Provincetown scenes or characters. I look forward to bringing you some of my favorites.
Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today is National Gingerbread House Day

According to one of my favorite odd websites,, December 12th was designated some time ago as Gingerbread House Day in the United States. Exact details of its birth aren't known, but this celebratory day gives folks and families across the country an annual day to create whimsical, edible holiday decorations, or the occasion to haul out gingerbread houses from past years to display throughout the holiday season. A well-made gingerbread house, properly stored between holidays, can last indefinitely, and continue as a yearly display, or can be broken up and eaten at any time.
The heavy, stiff dough used to make the dense "cookie" pieces that make up a gingerbread house are so hard that there's actually very little difference in the texture of a freshly created sculpture and one that has been trotted out each holiday season for a couple of generations, or longer. I read this week about a family that has brought out the same treasured gingerbread heirloom each Christmas for more than 60 years, created by the current generation's great-grandmother in the 1950s.
There's a certain elegance to this simple gingerbread house.
A simple design like the one at the left, sparsely decorated with white icing "snow" and just two candied cherries, adds a little warmth to a holiday buffet table.
The elaborate design of the larger house below seems to have dozens of individually created panels of art stretching around the confection. It reminds me of Commercial Street's old Shop Therapy building, painted by dear departed artist Bob Gasoi. A poof of cotton candy makes the smoke coming out of the chimney. The only rule for making a gingerbread house is that every element of its construction and decoration must be edible.
This elaborate artwork reminds me of the old Shop Therapy.
A soft gingerbread in a cake form is one of my very favorite desserts, but the thin, rigid variety used in making a gingerbread house is baked from a very stiff dough meant to cook into very hard, sturdy planks, or be cut in particular shapes like the two large rectangles that usually form the roof of a simple gingerbread house.
This stiff dough seems to date back to at least the tenth century AD, when an Armenian monk brought his firm gingerbread to Europe, where French Christians used it in various religious ceremonies and often baked it into shapes meant to represent images of saints.
The Brothers Grimm seem to be the first to have thought of a house made of gingerbread, writing it into their children's story Hansel and Gretel. From there it seems to be the Germans who began creating festive, decorated little cottages during the holiday season.
Two young boys pose with gingerbread houses they decorated.
Decorating a gingerbread house can be great holiday fun for kids, but adults seem to enjoy this cheery, creative outlet just as much. The annual Holly Folly celebration in PTown now includes a chance for folks to create their very own gingerbread masterpiece.
Try your own artistic hand using this recipe for gingerbread, complete with simple instructions, from the Food Network. A recipe for royal icing, which acts as the edible "glue" that holds all of the pieces and decorations in place, is included. This recipe will make a small house about six inches tall, but you could double the recipe (and measurements for the pattern you will create) to make a house about a foot tall.

You can make tiny gingerbread houses as party favors, or provide guests with all the goodies to make their own
You can also get a kit online, or buy cast iron molds that will give you gingerbread panels textured to resemble a shingled roof, for example. Small candies like M&Ms, jelly beans, gumdrops, Dots, Smarties, Red Hots and many others can be "glued" into place with royal icing. Pretzels, licorice laces, cereals and other edibles can be used as well. Cinnamon Toast Crunch, for example, can become shingles on the roof.
Royal icing can be piped on to make icicles hanging from the roof, or tinted green and "painted" onto overturned ice cream cones to make evergreen trees. It firms up within a few minutes. The icing then hardens permanently, can last a lifetime, and will never spoil, should you want to preserve your creation for future holidays. Or you can decide to eat the whole house and all decorations as the holiday season comes to an end.

Michelle Obama debuted this fine gingerbread replica of the White House made for Christmas, 2016
Visit Shari's Berries online to see 31 Amazing Gingerbread House Ideas to get inspired to build your own gingerbread creation, or simply to enjoy photos of fabulous designs ranging from a charming log cabin to a three-story Victorian. You'll find a gingerbread tree house, an Asian pagoda, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and the 150 pound White House replica that Michelle Obama introduced in 2016, adding a lovely new focal point in the long-running tradition of First Ladies decorating the White House for Christmas.
It seems that First Ladies Martha Washington and Dolley Madison each had great recipes for soft gingerbread cakes, but it was Lou Hoover who began decorating the White House Christmas tree with hard gingerbread during her tenure as First Lady, between 1929 and 1933. Still, it wasn't until Pat Nixon's time as First Lady that the first gingerbread house appeared among the Christmas decorations at the White House. Next came the first of the gingerbread villages that have become part of the holiday decorating tradition at the White House.
Start your own Christmas gingerbread tradition. See if you might find a gingerbread house at a holiday craft fair. You may be able to find one at the holiday market, sponsored by The Canteen, running Fridays through Sundays through January 1st. Or, for a unique afternoon of enjoyment, try making your own special gingerbread house for the holidays.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

It's Souper Saturday, Benefitting Provincetown's Amazing Soup Kitchen

SKIP has been serving meals in PTown since 1992.
One of Provincetown’s greatest, most delicious fundraising affairs is Souper Saturday, held during our annual Holly Folly event, on the first Saturday of December every year.
This event benefits SKIP, the Soup Kitchen In Provincetown, which will provide an estimated 13,000 hot, nutritious meals for Outer Cape residents over the winter, at no charge. To do this, they will need to raise close to $100,000 this year to help their volunteers to continue this remarkable community service.
I’m going to prime you for Souper Saturday by teasing you with photos of great soups I’ve had in PTown restaurants as I go on. Some of these will definitely be offered today from 11:30AM to 3:30 PM at Tin Pan Alley, at 269 Commercial Street, in the heart of Provincetown.

Littlenecks and fresh-snipped herbs make
The Canteen's clam chowder a favorite.
Founded in 1992, the Soup Kitchen is now open to the public every weekday from November through April, holidays included. Volunteers prepare and serve soup, salad, an entrée with side dishes, as well as beverages and desert, for around 80 to 100 people each day. Thanksgiving saw about 175 folks from all walks of life enjoy a splendid meal together, as well as the feeling of community provided by this remarkable resource. Local musicians gave us live music for the occasion.
At the end of each day’s meal, food is also packed for guests to take home, or to drop off to various folks who can’t always get to the luncheon, held Monday through Friday till the last full week of April, at the United Methodist Church, at 10 Shank Painter Road.
The Red Inn is known for their
hearty lobster corn chowder
The volunteers are looking to further expand their services this year. They’re experimenting with offering an extra, different meal on Fridays, in addition to lunch. It’s an entrée, packed and ready to go, so guests can have a meal over the weekend. As with the regular meals, there’s a meat and a side dish, with an all-vegetarian option available as well. This could prove to be a great help for a lot of people struggling with the high cost of living in Provincetown.
SKIP helps to bridge the financial gap for folks living in a seasonal economy, with the vast majority of the Outer Cape population having no employment in the wintertime. The Soup Kitchen also provides a place to meet and socialize, to connect with others in a community where people can sometimes feel isolated in the solitude of the off-season. The volunteers work hard to provide a genuinely warm, welcoming atmosphere as well as healthful, nutritious meals, and absolutely everyone is welcome.
Ross' Grill knocked my socks off one
day with this amazing fennel bisque.
You can help, too, simply by having a scrumptious lunch today, on Souper Saturday, at this fun, festive, mouthwatering event. More than two-dozen restaurants and delis are donating cauldrons of favorite soups so you’ll have a chance to taste several, if you’d like. A $5 donation will get you a ticket so you can choose a cup of any soup you’d like from a very long table with volunteers ready to serve you.
When a particular soup runs out, another variety from a different restaurant will be brought out of the kitchen, so the soups will change throughout the afternoon. There are bound to be clam chowders, lobster bisques, as well as choices for vegetarians. I'm hoping for a roasted vegetable soup or a butternut squash. Of course, in PTown, you’re likely to find a couple of Portuguese favorites like kale soup, or maybe a squid stew. There may be a beef barley, or perhaps a fennel bisque or corn chowder, or any other whim of some of the town’s best chefs. There’s no telling what delights might be offered for lunch today.
This chicken soup with Thai and Mexican
chilis made me love the Mews all the more.
I usually get two or three tickets, because I want to taste more than one soup. I’ve also seen folks who will sit down to two or three cups of the very same soup, like a favorite clam chowder, for instance. You can also come early and enjoy one variety, starting at 11:30 AM, and stop back later for another taste as the soups change during the day. Anything goes, and all of the proceeds will go to SKIP, so eat generously. The event runs until 3:30 PM.
You can also stop in at the old firehouse across the street, at 240 Commercial Street, for something new this year, and this is going to be very popular…
You can pick up cold quarts of soup for $10 each, packed “to go” for you to warm up later, for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.
Restaurant from PTown to Wellfleet
each brought their own version of kale
soup to the 2017 Portuguese Festival.
So that makes meals inexpensive and very easy to handle, too, as you’re busy shopping and attending Holly Folly events. Whether you live in town or have rented a condo for the weekend, you can gather friends and family and have your own soup tasting without having to cook. That will help SKIP to raise the money to continue providing a place of community, as well as thousands of free meals in the coming year.
By the way, you’ll want to do a little of your holiday shopping at the firehouse as well, where you’ll find useful items that make great gifts. SKIP merchandise such as soup or coffee mugs, tee shirts, caps, water bottles and oven mitts will be on sale there. Again, all proceeds benefit the Soup Kitchen

Some like their clam chowder thick and
chunky, like this one at Bayside Betsy's.
If you are reading this from somewhere far from Cape Cod, or are otherwise unable to attend Souper Saturday, you can make a contribution to the Soup Kitchen by check, debit card, credit card or PayPal, through their website, or simply send a check SKIP at PO Box 538, Provincetown, MA 02657. SKIP is a registered 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation, so donations are fully tax-deductible.
There's no telling which restaurants will make an appearance at this great event, and some might surprise us by bringing something unexpected, but that's half the fun of this shindig. With soups from nearly 30 Outer Cape eateries, there will definitely be something for everyone, and you may end up tasting soups from a couple of spots you've never visited. Excellent!
This spicy squid stew livened up the
Portuguese Festival one year. I believe
it was a surprise from the Lobster Pot.
I hope to meet you over a bowl of soup today at Tin Pan Alley. We thank them for their generous donation of their restaurant for the day. We thank the chefs and kitchen staffs of all of the restaurants and delis sending huge pots of wonderful soups for our lunches and dinners. Don't forget to stop at the firehouse for soup to go, and a holiday gift or two. 
And, as always, we thank the leaders and volunteers of  the Soup Kitchen  for their remarkable commitment and service to Provincetown and the greater community of the Outer Cape. Help them out… Have some Soup!