Provincetown Fishing Tradition Celebrated at Blessing of the Fleet

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This 1960’s postcard shows a plentiful catch of fish on a commercial fishing boat out of Provincetown.  Fifty plus years later and the commercial fishing boats are not as plentiful as they once were, docked off of MacMillan Pier.  Still the tradition continues and has been revitalized in recent years with the Portuguese Festival that has enhanced the annual Blessing of the Fleet. 

The end of June is a great time to visit Provincetown an the celebration begins this weekend on Thursday the 26th.  To get into the mood of Provincetown, pick up a copy of Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook , the recently published murder mystery that still has everyone talking.  What happens during the Blessing of the Fleet in the story set in the 1980s might give you some clues. A few autographed copies can be found at the  Provincetown Bookshop on Commercial Street or buy it online in trade paperback or ebook. Like us on Facebook and keep the conversation going.

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Provincetown East Harbor Now Pilgrim Lake

Pilgrim Lake approaching from Mayflower Heights Provincetown, Cape Cod

Pilgrim Lake approaching from Mayflower Heights
Provincetown, Cape Cod

This postcard shows what Pilgrim Lake looked like approximately 120 years ago, but it had already undergone many changes.

Once known historically as Eastern Harbor and later as East Harbor, the protected inlet was eventually diked in 1868 to make it possible for track to be laid for the railroad that made Provincetown into a thriving hub for fishing. The railroad took the fish from the Provincetown Wharf all the way to New York City.

But in building a railroad and a roadway in 1877, East Harbor became a lake known as Pilgrim Lake.

What’s interesting in this old postcard is that the dunes look fairly low and the vegetation is high. The vegetation is what caused the desalination. The fish population gradually depleted although in the mid 20th century there were reports of large terrapin turtles that lived in the lake. What did they eat?

The vegetation and wildlife continues to evolve as the National Park Service attempts to restore portions of the habitat.

What happens next? Only time will tell. Life is often a mystery.

Want to read a novel set in Provincetown? Remaining in Provincetown, “captures the characters and places perfectly,” says one reader review. “Finally an author has been able to successfully capture the flavor of that quirky town on the tip of Cape Cod and do it well,” says another. Available at Provinetown’s favorite local bookstore, Provincetown Bookshop,  or online as a paperback or ebook you’ll want to read Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook to get you ready for summer 2014. Like it on Facebook and keep the conversation going.

Fishermen of Provincetown a 19th Century Photograph with Style

Fishermen of Provincetown, Mass.

Fishermen of Provincetown, Mass.

The photograph could have been taken yesterday, but it was taken for a postcard published by the New England News Company in the late 1800’s.  Don’t you love the serious expression on these handsome men’s faces?   It’s the start of the season for visitors to start arriving for fresh seafood, long walks on the beach and over the sand dunes. There is, after all, no other place in the world like Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod.  Want to get in the mood with an appropriate book? If you haven’t yet read the mystery novel  Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook there is no time like the present. It’s available at your favorite local bookstores as well as online in trade paperback and ebook. Like us on Facebook and keep the conversation going!

Blessing of the Fleet a Provincetown Tradition

Ptown4The Blessing of the Fleet in Provincetown, that takes place each year on the last Sunday in June, is a tradition that originated in Mediterranean fishing communities. With its large Portuguese community of fishermen who were the economic backbone of the community during the late 19th and 20th century, it”s surprising that it wasn’t”t until 1948 that the. Blessing of the Fleet tradition was brought to Provincetown. A Catholic mass and the blessing of a priest to ask God for a safe fishing season and a bountiful one is further celebrated with a parade, performances, games, and festivities, After the boats are blessed from the end of Macmillan wharf, where they line up bedecked with banners and flags, the fishermen and families celebrate with a picnic lunch on their vessel and a trip to Long Point, often going for a swim on a hot day and perhaps enjoying quite a bit of beer and wine.
While the Blessing of the Fleet is now combined with the four day Portuguese Festival, in earlier times the festivities was more focused to serve the community of fishermen and their friends and families, In the new mystery novel Remaining in Provincetown, a pivotal event takes place in Sarah Carreiro”s life at a Blessing of the Fleet, that she reflects on as she returns to town to bury her husband who has been murdered. What happened? Read the book, currently available for sale at bookstores, including the Provincetown Bookshop and online at Amazon in trade paperback and on Kindle. Like us on Facebook. Keep the conversation going.

Fishing Boats at Provinetown, Cape Cod Mass. circa 1900

Fishing Boats at Provinetown, Cape Cod Mass. circa 1900

Digging for clams in Provincetown, Cape Cod

Ptown clammers

This rare antique postcard shows clam diggers using rakes to gather bushels of clams in Provincetown, Massachusetts on the tip of Cape Cod.  Clam chowder, stuffed quahogs, and fried clams are some of the favorites visitors enjoy when they dine, as do the characters in the novel Remaining in Provincetown by S.N. Cook, at Sally’s Chowder Bowl (a fictitious place that may bring back memories).  Quahogs, also known as cherry stones and little necks, along with steamers (soft-shell clams), sea clams, and razor clams were once exceedingly plentiful in Provincetown Harbor.  They were an important source of food for the Indians and the purple portion of the quahog shells were used as a trading exchange referred to as wampum.  The early American colonists took advantage of this easy to access food source and developed a taste for shellfish stews and chowders. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, shellfish provided sustenance when jobs were few and families were struggling to put food on the table. The result was a depleted shellfish population, overfished almost to extinction. The one exception is mussels, which live on rocks and benefitted from the construction of breakwaters. Today efforts are being made, with some success, to restore the shellfish population because their presence helps to filter the Bay’s water and maintain an ecological balance.  Take note that the gathering of clams and oysters requires a license and is under strict regulation.  There are, however, plenty of opportunities to go fishing.  There are a number of boats that take off from Provincetown harbor. To see another vintage postcard, just posted, visit our new face book page and like it to be entered in the drawing to win a FREE copy of the new mystery coming out later this month. Thank you.

Like our facebook fan page and you may be selected to receive a FREE advance cppy!

Like our facebook fan page and you may be selected to receive a FREE advance cppy!

Provincetown souvenirs are collectibles and memories

Commercial Street near Town Hall, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Commercial Street near Town Hall, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown in summer is a bustling place. The narrow streets are crowded with tourists. Even 100 years ago when the fishing industry provided year-round income for families, the  tourist trade was important. Souvenir shops that sold postcards, like this one shown above, as well as collectible souvenir spoons, plates, paper weights, and glasses provided seasonal income for local residents. Servicemen in the Coast Guard and Navy would come into town to see the sights that included fine restaurants, bars, and entertainment. The T-shirt shops came later! Town Hall in this antique postcard is partially obscured by the thick foliage of the trees, but it looks very much the same today as it did back then. In 1990 when the novel Remaining in Provincetown takes place, Town Hall was painted white and one of the characters has their office inside. Which one? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Provincetown fishing wharf from bygone era

Consolidated Weir Co's Wharf

Consolidated Weir Co’s Wharf

When fishing was a major  industry on Cape Cod, there were fishing weirs, nets set up in the water used to trap fish. The use of weirs for fishing was a Native American technique that was taught to the early colonists in New England. Could the name Consolidated Weir Company name have something to do with the use of weirs?  While weirs were a frequent sight in the harbor during the early part of the 20th century, they were abandoned or removed  by the late 1960s. This was long before I was born but I do recognize a building in the background that provides a clue to where this long ago wharf in Provincetown was located. The building was on the East End of town, the old ice house which provided the ice for packing the fresh caught fish for storage and transport. Visit Provincetown today and in its place is a stucco and brick building. All that are left of the wharfs on beach side are a few wood pilings.

What still remains in Provincetown from the early fishing era? Or should I ask, who is still Remaining in Provincetown?  I love a good mystery.