One of the useful things about blogging is the ability to add more information when I find it. Here are further notes on five topics:
South Wellfleet Schools
Valerie Scheel was kind enough to send me a copy of notes called “Reminisces” by Lyndell Higgins Baldwin Coumans – age 96. This is Lynnie Higgins, daughter of Harold and Eva Higgins. I mentioned Eva in my post about Marconi’s operations in South Wellfleet — when she was the cook and housekeeper at the Marconi Station. Lynnie and her family lived in the Parsonage in South Wellfleet, the home that once housed the minister of the South Wellfleet Second Congregational Church. The house still stands on Cemetery Road.
Lynnie lived in the Parsonage from 1912 when she was six years old, until she was twelve. In her memory notes, Lynnie remembers going to a four-room school house. Since the Pond Hill School closed in 1880, this must have been the elementary school that was in town on Main Street, where Main Street, Holbrook Avenue and Briar Lane merge. She tells of getting there on a vehicle they called “the barge.” This was a bus-shaped vehicle, a “box with windows” drawn by a horse. There were benches down each side, and in winter there was hay in the aisle to keep your feet warm. She remembers how the big boys used to kick the smaller kids, and she “still has scars from those big boots.”
Her uncle drove the barge, so in the morning she and her brother knew they could be a few minutes late because he would never leave them behind. Also, since the barge was at the school in the afternoons by 3 PM sharp, they could not be kept after school. At their hour-long lunch period, they joined their uncle – who apparently parked for the day, waiting for the afternoon return trip.
South Wellfleet Cemetery and the unknown sailors
When writing about shipwrecks, I mentioned the unknown sailors in their South Wellfleet
Cemetery grave. I read an article from a 1948 Cape Codder about Pauline Crowell, who spent considerable time and energy caring for the cemetery. She had taken up the chore after her husband, Luther F. Crowell, died in 1941.
Mrs. Crowell told the reporter about the three unknown sailors who had been buried long before she was involved. She said “they washed up on the beach.” But she did know that Herbert Nickerson, the Orleans funeral director, had come to the cemetery and used a rod to determine their burial place. Then Mrs. Crowell had the site fenced, and made the sign we find there today: “Unknown Sailors.”
Mrs. Crowell raised the money she needed for the cemetery care through whist parties. She also mentioned in this article that she had attended the South Wellfleet elementary school was was located near the Cemetery.
Camp Wellfleet’s Guns Fix a Problem
This note touches upon posts I wrote last summer about Camp Wellfleet, about electricity coming to Wellfleet, and about Prospect Hill. I found a clipping slipped into a folder at the Wellfleet Historical Society. The title of the Cape Cod Standard Times newspaper report was “Guns Revive Broken-down Cape Ice Box.” The date is July 1943. Mr. and Mrs. George Barker’s electric refrigerator in their year-round home on Prospect Hill stopped working, and due to the scarcity of repairmen on the “lower Cape” they’d had to revert to the use of an “old-style ice box.” However, when a new company equipped with big guns moved into Camp Wellfleet the first salvo jolted the Barkers’ electric refrigerator into working condition again.
Marconi Marker at Cape Cod National Seashore
When I was in Wellfleet in June, I went to the Marconi site to check on the marker
pictured here. This is the marker that used to be on LeCount Hollow Road. It’s still near the interpretive site, as I’d written in the winter, but of course the Marconi Towers model in the shelter structure had to be removed — just after I was there, in July – because of the severe erosion of the 2013 winter. Bill Burke, the Park Historian, reports that the edge of dune is now where the rear position of the Marconi towers was in 1903.
Nicknames for Roads
When I wrote about the Old Wharf area late last summer, I mentioned a local man with a Ford truck and a forty-foot boat who was probably a rum runner — although people are still very careful about that appellation. Recently, I read a 1964 Cape Codder article describing the back roads in South Wellfleet into Eastham as an alternative to Route 6 driving. The writer called these “the old rum runners road” or “whiskey road” – local names for the back roads used by rum runners evading Federal pursuit during Prohibition.