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Cape Cod Aye, Remember When

A bookful—aye, dozens of bookfuls have been written and well-written about the good old days on Cape Cod. What in the world was there that so much could be written about?

Well, aside from the common, everyday activities that went on there, the following added joy and misery, industry and excitement to those times.

At one time there was piracy, for which the Cape’s many coves and inlets were ideal hiding places, There were mooncussing and bundling. Fights ranged from two-man fisticuffs to much larger engagements. There were fierce storms that swept Cape waters and caused dreadful shipwrecks. There were daring rescues and tragic losses of life. After such wrecks, there was exciting salvage of wreckage and cargoes strewn all along the beaches. Men who would not steal a penny never hesitated to gain what they could on such occasions. Many a Cape home contained salvage of considerable worth and interest from ships tossed on to Cape shores. Besides these stirring ‘affairs, it is said there was once witchcraft on the Cape.

Life in the good old days was always hard. Courageous fishermen set out to local Cape waters or to the Banks, often never to return. Cape Cod’s iron men built wooden ships and sailed them everywhere. Fourteen-year-old boys shipped “before the mast”, or as cabin boys. By the time they were of age, many of these lads commanded their own ships.

When the wars of Independence and 1812 broke out, as when later wars came, young soldiers from Cape Cod joined the ranks.

Cape Cod housewives worked long and hard in the good old days. What modern housewife would swap with them? They had no washing machines, modern ranges, gaslight or electricity, radios, television, or automobiles, There were almost primitive sanitary conditions. Horses and oxen were used for travel and plowing.

Not until “fairly recent” times did a railroad run to the Cape. In the mid to late 1800’s the branch line of the Old Colony Railroad was extended to Chatham. Until that time, the train from Boston stopped at Harwich, From there, Cape Codders who lived farther on took a slow horse drawn stage over sandy and uneven roads to their destination. No one complained; that was life, Cape Cod life, and the Cape Codders were well able to meet it on their own terms.

This is a little picture of “the good old days” on Cape Cod!

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 05/04/06
Categories: History
Keywords: history


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