Even with the noise, light, and air pollution of our city here on the cape, we were able to watch last night’s lunar eclipse! The sky was a brilliant drama to behold, light and dark clouds drifting in a an otherwise clear, star struck sky, moon and sun engaged in their mysterious dance — and I even glimpsed the man in the moon!
Summer has finally arrived here in Hyannis. In the 80’s this weekend.
We don’t own a clothes dryer, haven’t since our New Bedford move. We got used to line drying our clothes in the loft bathroom when we lived there, and decided to skip the dryer when we moved in here. I love hanging laundry on the line. During wet and colder weather I dry the clothes on the lines in the basement, but as soon as it hits the 40’s or 50’s, and it’s a sunny day (breezy’s good, too), I hang the clothes outside to dry. It’s an excuse to be outside, it’s meditative, there’s method to it for me (I hang lingerie out of sight), and it connects me to a slower pace of life I miss more and more — these hyped up-plugged in-tuned in- but- oh so out-days. Plus, our clothes will last longer drying in a breeze gentler (usually) than a dryer’ shot air could ever be.
Some of the clothes pins — actually all of them — I’ve had for decades, from when I used cloth diapers on my kids and didn’t have a dryer then either. And some of them are clothes pegs from Mrs. Ross, our 80-something neighbor of the time, who also used to enjoy hanging her clothes out. It was one of those twirly clothes lines, and she would go out with her basket, and her cane, and being short, use her cane to move the lines around and to where she could reach them. I never helped her, thinking it was good exercise for her, to keep her moving and strong. It didn’t occur to me that maybe I could have asked if she wanted help at least, rather than assuming she didn’t. Tough love, huh?
No, more like selfish love because I used to also get irritated if she got her clothes on the line before I did. But love Mrs. Ross I did. We did. My pre-K son and I would visit her in her two room apartment with her soaps on the television on an occasional afternoon. I’d have tea, and she’d give Anthony his favorite Little Debbie Nutty Bars. She’d tell stories of how she cried when she was 10 and couldn’t go to school anymore because she was the oldest and had to help support the family by going to work in the mills (she was French-Canadian). She had a daughter who had a stroke, whose husband would drop her off every Wednesday to visit her mother. I thought he was a jerk as rumor had it that he had a girlfriend, too.
I snagged some of Mrs. Ross’s clothes pegs that fell behind when she hung her laundry. When I hang my laundry, and I use her pegs I remember her, I remember her story, intertwined with my story, my son’s, LaFountain Street, and Little Debbie’s.
This is what “progress” in Hyannis looks like today, especially if it involves the state aka The Steamship Authority aka tourism aka mucho dinero. We live in a block in a historic district of Hyannis, the old east end, near the harbor.
It sits between downtown and the hospital, with the harbor and the ferries a block south of us. When the hospital doesn’t raze sweet vintage cottages, gobbling up more and more land for parking lots, you can count on the Steamship to pick up the slack. It’s not that the houses they demolished today on School Street were anything special, but they were someone’s homes until recently. I knew the people enough to say “hi” to.
There used to be a school here on School Street where Champ House is now. Dr. Tratt’s office is reputed to be Captain Bearse’s historic home, and doctors and other folk lived on this street at one time, back in the day when a doctor made house calls. Priscilla, a regular library patron for decades and a huge Thornton Burgess fan, lived in the house across the street.
I read a book last summer by Alvah Bearse, who grew up over on Ocean Street across from the harbor, and spent the first decades of the last century, caddying for the rich summer folk at the golf course in Hyannis Port, and playing golf and baseball in makeshift fields in their own neighborhood. The fields doubled as cow pastures and blueberry patches. There was fishing in Snow’s Creek.
Pleasant Street was known as Sea Captain’s Row, and you could smell the candle factory back in the 60’s and 70’s when they still made candles; the air was pleasantly scented. Now, it’s mostly parking “lawns” run by a local who bought up as many of the homes in the area as he could. The beautiful homes have been allowed to slowly crumble, holes in the roof, broken windows and the like.
The ferry is a 10 minute walk from the transportation center; there are daily busses from Boston and now weekend train service (summer only for now). With the shuttle service the ferry offers, surely people can find other ways of getting to Hyannis if they’re going to the islands anyway.
The world was slower once upon a time, less driven by money, who gets the best view and who can afford to take a boat to the islands. Yes, there was tourism creeping in back then, but nowadays it seems to be crashing in.
When is it enough? When will we have enough parking? Where will local people live their daily lives? I suppose when the parking lots are done, we can always live in our cars like so many already do.