Out of Town-day 4

Hi all:

After breakfast yesterday morning I spoke to my step-son, who has lived on Cape Cod for over 20 years, as to what communities on the Cape would have interesting buildings and streets that might be worthy subjects for an aging itinerant photographer.

He reccommended Falmouth–especially the Woods Hole community.

Named  for Falmouth, Cornwall, England, Falmouth, Mass. is the birthplace of Poet Katherine Lee Bates who wrote the lyrics for “America The Beautiful.” Actor Ben Afflect has or once had a home here. It’s also home to the Wood’s Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority which provides access for people and vehicles to those islands but ,what most people might have heard of in this community, is the famous Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Joanie and I spent most of the morning searching Yarmouth for a tee and sweat shirt outlet. She wanted to get gifts for family members and I decided to get souveniers for my son and daughter. In the course of our searching we stopped at a convienence store where I grabbed a great shot of one of the most crowded and cluttered community bulletin boards I’ve ever seen and a woman adding one more notice to a sea of notices, business-cards, posters and flyers. It had a comic futility I thought was very appealing.

After lunch I headed for Falmouth–about a 50 to 55 minute drive. Driving the very busy Rt. 28 I couldn’t help feeling saddned by the  extensive urban sprawl and commercialization that characterizes much of the  Cape. Those areas that were undeveloped, were intrigueing and gratifying to experience.  I’m thinking specifically of  the very unique maritime forest still covering ancient dunes and the authentic-looking homes and commercial buildings that seemed not to be the product of some big-money builder in conjunction with a local government authority imposing their version of the Cape Cod archietectural aesthetic. Obviously the early settlers–say 200 years ago–didn’t have some sort of agreed-upon building protocol that all adhered to–they used a variety of buiding styles. I guess if they traveled through time & tried to build today they would be severely censored.

The last few days I’ve had this image in my mind of the Cape-Cod-Official-Archietectural-Aesthetic-Police (The CCOAAP) patrolling the streets, lurking in the shadows, ever vigilant for the unfaithful who dare to depart from orthodoxy.

Entering the town of Falmouth (population 32, 660–2000 census.) I spotted a classic art-deco railroad car-style diner–”Betsy’s Diner“–with a remarkably honest glaring neon sign on prominent display–”EAT HEAVY,” it proclaimed to an overweight and heart-disease prone American population. (I had to get a few shots of that!)

The Woods Hole Community is on a beautiful bay which (as mentioned above) the Steamship Authority operates out of. I chatted awhile with a ticket taker and gate custodian working at one of the enourmous slips that the huge vehicular ferry, “Marth’s Vineyard,” leaves from. It was mesmering to watch the building- sized ship move silently and effortlessly from the slip into the ferry basin and out to sea. As the ship cleared the last bouy I could hear the massive engines rumble into a firm thrust and–the dark seawater boiling at the stern–accelerate the ship toward the horizon and the islands beyond.

I found a place where I could change cash into quarters and hiked the 6 or 8 blocks back to where I earlier parked my wife’s car to feed the meter. Parking in Wood’s Hole is a real money-maker for the town–a dollar an hour to park. If you come, bring a roll of quarters.

Returning to the center of town I wandered around getting shots of interesting building details and street-views.  I spotted an “older” woman (hah!–she was probably my age!), with a woman in her early 40s, looking at two interesting bits of public sculpture. One was made up of at least a dozen rusty horsehoes attached to a rusty rounded shell–making it look like some sort of fanciful, if non-descript sea-creature. Next to it was an octopus made of junk car-parts and scrap. I crossed the street to photograph the assemblages and had a brief conversation with the two women who turned out to be mother and daughter. I gave them my usual self-introduction–”Hi my name’s Orion Holen–I’m just an old retired guy who likes taking pictures of old retired stuff.” (And I usually slip in something about this website).

We discussed the delightful sculpture briefly and they made such a sweet, interesting couple I asked if I could photograph them. They immediatly–as if on cue–broke into the most adorable, unaffacted smiles, the daughter puting one arm around her mother and throwing out the other in a facetious gesture of triumph and self-promotion.

I noticed a man coming out of a large coffee shop and restaurant–I think it was called “The Landfall,”–with  a gellato. That looked good so I went inside to get one. I noticed a woman–in her 60s I guess–sitting alone drinking a coffee confection drink and reading a paper. Her solitary absorbtion at a small table off to the side of the busy room, suggested a very nice composition. I asked if I could take her picture–and gave her my standrd introduction. Not seeming the least bit suspicious or put off she agreed. I snapped a shot, thanked her and walked away. Then, when she wasn’t conscious of me, I returned and grabbed a few more.

Standing there, camera in one hand, gelatto in the other we chatted. After a few minutes and the gellato dripping on my shoes, I sat down at a nearby table and we talked for 15  or 20 minutes.

Her name was Libby and she grew up in the NY-New Jersey area. As a child her father took her and her siblings to New England in the summers where he had a boat (and I assume) a cabin. Libby worked in wholesale jewelry in New York for many years then retired some years ago. Two and a half years ago she bought a home in Woods Hole. She has a part time job with the Steamship Authority–which she very much enjoys–especially all the people she gets to meet.

As I finished my soupy gellato I thought I could hear my wife’s car calling to me–with a distinct note of urgency.  Time on the meter was running out. Libby asked for the addess of this site–I wrote it down and excused myself. Trotting quickly the 6 or 8 blocks back to the car, I stopped to shoot an old-fashioned fire-alarm box–the kind that looks little red house–along the way.

I guess the CCOAAP missed it.

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