Remember the old adage “You can’t go home again”? What’s past is past and is best viewed in our own memories. But, last week, Cemal and I, armed with our “bucket list”, traveled the nostalgic road to Cape Cod and learned you can go home again.
In the late 1940’s,my grandparents built a Cape Cod style home on Rock Harbor Road in Orleans. Until they sold it, I spent idyllic summers and an occasional winter vacation there. My tiny, gabled bedroom, at the back of the house, faced the bay. There were fields of blackberry and blueberry bushes, as well as a chicken coop in the back yard. Uncle Jake Richardson and his wife, Sadie, lived across the street. Uncle Jake, a big, burly man, would take us all fishing and always in the prohibited areas!
Rock Harbor and Skaket Beach, especially at low tide were the centers of our summers, mine and my cousin’s. Grandpa would walk with us to Rock Harbor at low tide, plant his summer chair in the middle of the channel and chat with all who passed by, as Dave and I played in the sand. Grandma would at times send me to Rock Harbor to buy some fresh fish for dinner from Young’s Fish Market. And my aunt would pile her little black Mercury with beach paraphernalia and take us to Skaket. Orleans was a very tiny town then, with a one room post office, movie theater, and small shops such as Watson’s clothing store. The post office is now a small store, and the movie theater CVS! But life was simple, at least for me– I was a small child. Although they sold the house in the mid to late 1950’s, I still summered at my aunt’s home in Eastham.
Cemal and I checked into the Bramble Inn on Rt. 6A in Brewster last week. Close friends had given us a gift certificate for a 2 night stay there to celebrate Cemal’s retirement from Providence College–a perfect opportunity to re-enter childhood, thank you Tuba and Suleyman! Although the weather was overcast, we immediately went to my grandparents’ home. Changed, yes, but lovingly cared for. I had hoped to meet the people who now live there, but no one was home. Uncle Jake’s house was still across the street. Rock Harbor still looked so familiar –Young’s fish market, the restaurant which used to have (to us, anyway) an enormous freezer stocked with Hoodsies (our treat for the day), and the flats and channel where Dave and I played so many years ago.
Then off to see Nauset Lighthouse at the Coast Guard Beach. My grandfather took up oil painting while living at the Cape and I particularly loved his painting of Nauset Lighthouse and of the Brewster Gristmill. Although the Nauset Lighthouse was relocated to its present position to protect it from beach erosion, it still looks the same. The Gristmill has also been carefully preserved.
Despite Wednesday’s torrential rain, Cemal and I drove through the little town of Chatham, with its light house, to the Brewster Gristmill once more, and on to Wellfleet, stopping near my aunt’s home in Eastham on the way back to the Inn. I was amazed at the amount of greenery in front of the house, but it has been 50 years… The small building which once housed my uncle’s real estate office is still there, but as a lovely home.
Thursday morning was delightfully sunny, so we spent the last moments of our nostalgic trip at low tide on Skaket Beach. Nothing had changed–the flats, the beach grasses, the tide pools filled with minnows, and, more importantly, families enjoying the beach were all there.