Monday, January 25, 2016

Can Anyone Identify this PTown Location?

Can you identify this spot? Help me if you can.
Does Anyone recognize this spot, or know the name "The Bars" as the title of this postcard reads? Printed a bit faintly in the upper right corner of the card is "c. 710 The Bars, Provincetown, Mass." I've never seen, nor even heard of this place, which certainly doesn't mean that it didn't exist, but I find it curious. For one thing, there aren't a lot of tree-covered hillsides around town, as seen toward the back of this view.
In my vast collection of photo and postcard images of Provincetown and its history, there are a number that were incorrectly labeled by the publisher, and I'm wondering if this is another of those. That doesn't seem very likely, though, since the publisher was the Advocate, the venerable Provincetown publisher that put out the weekly town paper of the same name, and also ran what may have been the largest postcard operation on Cape Cod, publishing their own cards.

Now Waydowntown, the old Advocate Building is still quite charming.
There was another building, attached at the back of 265 Commercial Street, where the newspaper was printed, but most of the postcards of that era were printed in Germany, owing to the superior quality of prints achieved by the skillful Germans and their very advanced presses. The early Advocate postcards were no exception.
Boston architect T. M. Sargent designed the storefront with rather oversized windows to show off the cards, newspapers and souvenirs offered to a tourist trade that was already beginning its steady growth by 1911, when this shop was built in the center of town, right across the street from Town Hall. The windows above, made up of a couple of hundred tiny panes, create one of my favorite architectural details on Commercial Street. The decorative woodwork above and below the windows also helps to make this building one of the most charming in town.
For a time the postcard business even seems to have spilled into the next building to the east through a "hyphen," a small addition built between two structures to join them. As it turns out, there are quite a few hyphenated buildings in Provincetown.
At any rate, there's a bit of the history of The Advocate Building, as it was known. Now, back to my question… Does anyone know a spot in Provincetown called the Bars? If so, please leave a comment here, or e-mail, or call me at 42423PTOWN. This one has me stumped.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Provincetown Art in Live eBay Auction

This painting of Captain Jack's Wharf is Eldred's lot 128, eBay item 201490889434.
In the off-season, when I have a little time, I spend a good bit of it on eBay looking for things related to PTown. I've recently seen a few listings for something new to me.
I've been noticing artworks that will be sold in live auctions where I could register with the individual sellers and, at the appointed time, I'd compete with bidders attending the auction, along with folks simultaneously bidding by telephone. Sounds exciting!
This framed oil painting of Captain Jack's Wharf will be auctioned off next week, at 10 AM on Saturday, January 23rd, along with 450 other lots, which might be groups of items, or a single item, like this painting. Although it is signed C. B. M., the painter seems to remain unknown. I only found a couple of items in this auction that seem to be specifically related to Provincetown, but there may be more. I didn't look through all 450 lots, but it turns out the seller is Eldred's, on Route 6A in East Dennis, only about 45 miles up the Cape. Other PTown items could easily turn up.
Eldred's has been in the auction, appraisal and consignment business for over 50 years. Other auctions scheduled over the next few months include marine art, which especially catches my interest, and many other items. Since they are nearby, Cape folks might want to attend the actual auction rather than bid online or by phone. If you're away from PTown in the off-season, this could be one more way for you to feel connected to this wonderful community year-round. Click on the link to Eldred's, above, to contact them if all of this sounds like wintertime fun.
Lots next week will include items ranging from artwork to Oriental rugs, along with sterling silver pitchers, flatware and serving pieces and other antiques. One lot includes about 150 pieces of costume jewelry including cufflinks, faux pearl necklaces, brooches, rings, pocket watches and more, with a starting bid of $40. Another lot will be Venetian glass figurines of the Seven Dwarfs.

I like this Robert Wheeler painting of the beach at the edge of the dunes.
Another lot that Cape Codders might find interesting is this 18"X20" oil painting of the beach and dunes, signed by "Robert P. Wheeler ISMP." Is that the International Society of Marine Painters? Of the two-dozen ISMPs I found on the Internet, that one seems most likely. Anyway, I like the painting. It is lot 125, with an $80 opening bid. Here's a link to this Antiques and Accessories auction, and one for eBay's All About Live Auctions page to learn how to bid live, and how to put in an absentee bid, sort of like entering your maximum bid on a regular eBay item.
A buyers premium (a fee paid to the seller) of up to 25 percent of the winning bid will be assessed as well, and you'll also have to pay for shipping, as usual. Be sure to read all the information before bidding, and get registered for this auction in advance. I don't know if I'll end up bidding on anything, but I think I'll register for this particular event anyway, which is required prior to bidding, even if you're already registered with eBay. Following this live auction sounds like fun, whether I bid or not.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Saint Mary's Community Luncheons Brighten Provincetown's Winter

A delicious homestyle meal is served every Saturday thru February at St. Mary's.
The famous weekly community luncheons are back for the winter season at The Church of Saint Mary of the Harbor, at 517 Commercial Street. Every Saturday in the months of January and February this lovely Episcopal Church on the edge of Provincetown Harbor hosts the entire community for a meal and live music at no charge.
Church volunteers prepare and serve a different homestyle meal each Saturday, with several favorites eagerly anticipated sometime during this luncheon season. The winter in Provincetown wouldn't be complete without the appearance of famed recipes by Mary-Jo Avellar, Priscilla Jackett and a number of other great cooks.
Live music accompanies lunch, with singing and dancing encouraged!
Music is presented by musicians from up the street and up the Cape, who relish playing for such an appreciative audience while lunch is served. Song and a variety of instruments can be heard before you even set foot through the doorway to this welcoming hall.
Everyone is invited, so come join the fun every Saturday at 12 noon, thru February.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

This Day in Boston, 1896, Fannie Farmer's Cookbook is Published - Still a Best Seller

Fannie Farmer is still America's most famous cook.
Today marks the 120th anniversary of the singular cookbook that taught generations of Americans how to cook. First published on January 7th, 1896, as The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, later on known as Fannie Farmer's Cookbook, this book was much more than a mere collection of hundreds of recipes. It was an educative revolution in cooking.
The book actually sought to teach its readers how to cook, and what to eat. Included in the book were “lessons” on choosing foods and the science behind their best use and preparation. Through studying this book novice cooks could learn why to choose one vegetable over another, what makes milk turn sour, and why the temperature of the oil used in frying was crucial to the outcome of the dish. Simple recipes and instructions taught the basics of good cooking and proper nutrition. For more experienced cooks there were hundreds of more challenging recipes to expand their skills and palates.
Fannie’s book gave detailed instructions on achieving the correct temperature in an iron stove by proper selection of coal, soft wood like pine, and various hardwoods, along with adjusting the flue and damper and controlling the amount of oxygen for precise results. Fannie also taught her readers that there was actual science involved in cooking and baking. She was the first to give instruction on ensuring results by using standardized measuring cups and spoons to accurately measure ingredients.
In 1889 Fannie would graduate from The Boston Cooking School (Boston's first,) which was founded 10 years earlier by the Woman’s Educational Association of Boston in order “to offer instruction in cooking to those who wished to earn their livelihoods as cooks, or who would make practical use of such information in their families.” Fannie studied under Mary J. Lincoln, who researched and wrote Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book: What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking.

Miss Farmer teaches pupil Martha Hayes Ludden about precise measuring to achieve consistent results.

At The Boston Cooking School, Fannie had begun to understand the association between eating certain foods and maintaining good health. She then took a nutrition course at Harvard Medical School to learn as much as she could about healthful eating and proper preparation of foods. Having been one of the top students at the cooking school, Fannie would become assistant director there shortly after her graduation, and would go on to become head of the school a few years later. Meanwhile, she continued to study food and the science behind cooking at every opportunity.
Fannie began revising and expanding Mrs. Lincoln’s cookbook, building on her teacher’s detailed and methodical approach to recipe writing, and presenting a thorough discussion on the careful measurement of each ingredient in a recipe. In 1896, when Miss Farmer approached the publisher Little, Brown & Company with her book, The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, they didn’t think it would do very well, so they would commit only to printing a limited run of 3,000 copies, and only if Fannie would cover the costs. It turned out to be the best-selling cookbook of the era, with over 4 million copies sold in Fannie's lifetime, and it remains a perennial favorite today. In the 120 years it has been on the shelves, Fannie Farmer's Cookbook has never been out of print.

Fannie Farmer's lectures were very popular despite the 30 cent admission.
After a number of years running The Boston Cooking School, Fannie left in 1902 to open her own Miss Farmer's School of Cookery, also in Boston, aimed toward training housewives rather than household service staff, professional cooks or teachers.
Together with her sister, Cora Farmer Perkins, Fannie also wrote a regular column for the Woman's Home Companion. Her cooking demonstrations and lectures became widely known, costing 30 cents for admission to the morning session and 25 cents in the evenings, as shown in the ad from this unknown periodical. The Boston Evening Transcript published her lectures, which were printed in newspapers all across the country.
In the preface to her cookbook, our Miss Farmer writes “At the earnest solicitation of educators, pupils, and friends, I have been urged to prepare this book, and I trust it may be a help to many who need its aid. It is my wish that it may not only be looked upon as a compilation of tried and tested recipes, but that it may awaken an interest through its condensed scientific knowledge which will lead to deeper thought and broader study of what to eat.”
The book was rather an education in cooking and nutrition, as well as keeping house, all bound in a single volume of 39 chapters, hundreds of pages, and hundreds of recipes from simple sauces and condiments to an elegant 12 course meal. The table of contents alone was 22 pages!
The book has been updated quite a bit from time to time as the field of cooking has evolved, with nearly 900 pages in the current edition, and roughly 1,900 recipes. After all, the way to make a classic veal stock hasn't changed, nor the way to debone a chicken, nor the proportions of flour, sugar and butter in a pound cake. Many of the original recipes remain in the book, unaltered, along with new ones.
I found Fannie Farmer’s recipe for Cape Cod Oatmeal Cookies on several websites, including Just a Pinch Recipes, written by Debby Nelson, who writes “This recipe is from an old Fannie Farmer Cookbook I bought not long after I married. My Dad and my husband loved them so I would make them every year at Christmas and in-between. They are chewy and nourishing. Give them a try!”

I also found these cookies at Lynne Feifer’s 365 Days of Baking and More, where she challenged herself to bake something every day for a year and write about it on the Internet. This recipe also popped up at full tummies, where, for nearly eight years now, someone known only as Betsy has been writing about healthful, nutritious food choices and sharing recipes that “our whole family loves!” Both Lynne and Debby found this excellent, very popular cookie recipe still in the current incarnation, the 13th edition of Fannie Farmer's Cookbook, which was published 20 years ago, in 1996, celebrating the book’s 100th anniversary that year.
Click this link to find Fannie’s Last Supper, an excellent video that just may make you want to cook. It's a teaser for the 2007 PBS documentary of the same name, following folks who decided to throw a dinner party recreating the 12 course meal in Fannie's cookbook using only a wood stove to cook on. Now I'm looking for the DVD of that program, because that's something I'd like to see.
In the meantime, I'll settle for a plate of Cape Cod Oatmeal Cookies from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Thank you, Miss Farmer!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's in Provincetown, 2016!

Here's to health, happiness, good luck and prosperity for us all in 2016!

Lavish displays of fireworks usher in the New Year in cities the world over. Click on the following link to see 90 seconds of New Years fireworks from around the world. PTown will enjoy its own fireworks over Provincetown Harbor on Saturday night, scheduled for 5:30 PM. Get to the harbor beaches little early. You'll find free parking this weekend in the municipal parking lots.
There are all kinds of events going on during the First Light Provincetown New Year's Celebration. Please click on the link above to find out about all of the dates, times and locations of so many fun things to do that I can't possibly list them all here. There are still nearly three dozen events, parties, performances, celebrations, venues and lots of great food for all to enjoy during these four days of festivities.
There will be special performances by Suede, Dina Martina and Miss Richfield, 1981, to name just a few. There's a New Year's Day Brunch at the Crown & Anchor. The Polar Bear Plunge will be held on the beach at Harbor Lounge at 2 PM, with free chili to warm you up afterward. There'll be a recovery event tonight at the A-House. Don your best holiday outfit (aren't you glad I didn't say gay apparel!) for Drag Bingo at the Crown on Saturday. There's something for everyone in these town wide celebrations.
The Provincetown Theater will present The Great American Songbook Cabaret with food, drink, comedy and cabaret. There will be live music at Tin Pan Alley and other restaurants and clubs. PAAM offers free admission to their Sip and Sketch event.

Don't miss the holiday fireworks over the Harbor on Saturday night, lighting up the new year for the first time in more than 15 years. You'll see them from anywhere on the harbor side beaches. If you'd like to join a group of folks you can watch the show from the beach with revelers at The Canteen, or from the deck at Spindler's, the new restaurant at 386 Commercial Street, bringing us a sneak-peak of what they have planned for the summer. Tickets for First Light at Spindler's my still be available if you're quick.
To ensure good luck in 2016, visit The Canteen, at 225 Commercial Street, where they'll be serving black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Eating this traditional dish is said to bring luck and prosperity to all who celebrate the new year with this meal.
The Canteen has extended their season and put together a Holiday Market as a great new PTown winter tradition, emulating the customary winter celebration of food and fun found in open air winter markets of European cities. You'll find local artwork, products and crafts, along with entertainment and lots of food in a welcoming place to warm up and socialize a bit, in the garden behind The Canteen.
Go to for more info. The market is open for one last weekend, from 11 AM till 9 PM today and tomorrow, with the last day of the season for The Canteen on Sunday, January 3rd.
All of these great events, music, food and good company combine to make for a great New Year's celebration in Provincetown.
Happy New Year!