From the Archives

Below is a list of articles that have been published in the Museum’s newsletter Mainsheet. The articles look at interesting aspects of Woods Hole history and feature research by Museum Archivist Susan F. Witzell and by several other guest writers. To see an article, click on a link.

DateTitle and Author
2018 SpringStories from our Oral History Collection of Conversations by Susan Witzell
2017 FallThe Capn Kidd — Salted Kiss Sundaes and 'A Real Bar' by Susan F. Witzell
2017 SpringThe Pie in the Sky by Deborah Griffin Scanlon
2016 FallBlacksmiths in Quissett and Woods Hole by Susan F. Witzell
2016 SpringFishmonger Restaurant and Other Restaurants at the Bridge by Susan F. Witzell
2015 FallThe Old Stone House Rejoins The Old Candle House — or Why I Love Archivists by Mark Foster
2015 SpringTrain Stations and Ferry Terminals in Woods Hole by Susan F. Witzell
2014 FallThe Younger Joseph Story Fay by Susan F. Witzell (new photos of Fay from the 1860s).
2014 SpringA History Mystery by Susan F. Witzell (Vedeler-Fish photo album).
2013 FallQuissett Oral History and the Fay Farmhouse by Susan F. Witzell (Molly Willett oral history collection and results from The Moors research).
2013 SpringThe Hurricane of 1938 by P.K. Simonds.
2013The story of some bicentennial cannon balls and a tale of cooperation by Susan F. Witzell.
2012 FallNew Accessions — Summer 2012 by Susan F. Witzell (Sarah Bryant Fays bread and milk mug; a sugar bowl from the City of Columbus; and the tale of the shipwreck).
2012 SpringThe Loose Untailored Fabric of History — the Treasure Trove in the Archives by P.K. Simonds.
2011 FallProsperity from whaling created new-style houses in the 1840s by Susan F. Witzell (Captain Thomas Davis house and Eldridge house).
2010 FallThe Log Books of Captain Anthony Howes by Nancy Bundy.
2010 SpringA Town Called Nobska — a Cautionary Tale? by Les Garrick. (Secession of the Summer People).
2008 FallPart 2. Reminiscences of a Summer at the Breakwater Hotel 1960 by Allan W. Swank.
2008 SpringPart 1. Reminiscences of a Summer at the Breakwater Hotel 1960 by Allan W. Swank.
A Bill Eaton Sea Tale 1964 by John Howard McClellan
2007 SpringWoods Holes First Yachtsman by John Valois (Alfred Harrison).
2006Eaton photos and new accessions by Susan F. Witzell

From the Archives: Stories from our Oral History Collection of Conversations

Ed Jaskun, long-time pharmacist in Woods Hole, bought a three-story building along the Eel Pond Channel (currently the site of WHOI’s Redfield Building and its parking lot) in the 1940s. In 1962 when Redfield was built, he moved to the corner of Water Street and Luscombe Avenue, the current location of Coffee O. Here are some anecdotes about his view of Woods Hole and his time along the Eel Pond Channel from a Conversation in 1979.

“Oh, I used to fish out the window when it was quiet. Of course when I first came here, it was quiet, believe me. I’d ignore customers if the fish were biting, you know. There were some tinker mackerel going through and I love small mackerel. So I put some ham on my fly rod; I like to trout fish. I tossed it out the window and just as I did, a seagull came down and scooped it up, and there’s a seagull on the end of my line! The people on the drawbridge shouted, ‘He’s catching seagulls! Look!’ I didn’t know what to do, so I kept winding it in and finally gave it a jerk, and off went the seagull

Ed Jaskun and his family lived over the drugstore on the second and third floors. He said the view from the third floor was the best in Woods Hole. The two windows on the first floor were where he fished and tossed down 6-packs of beer to passing boaters. WHHM Archives.

“I used to sell these hats, fishing hats, in the old drugstore. This gentleman came in; he bought a hat and he was going fishing. I watched him. He went out and went over the bridge and a thirty-mile-an-hour gust hit him and off went the hat, you know. I wondered what he was going to do. So he came back in again, got another hat, paid me, put it on, walked across the bridge. The wind hit him again and off went the hat again! Well, about the third time, I thought, well he isn’t going to come back. Back he came! He said, ‘This time, I’m going to hold onto it!’ He went across the bridge holding onto it. It was so comical.”

“They (fishermen) used to come by in boats, like on a Saturday, going out fishing. Of course, I sold beer and wine and liquor, too. So they’d holler, ‘Ed!’ I’d go to the window and they’d say, ‘Four six packs!” O.K., so I’d go over and heave them out the window. Then I’d throw my fly line out and they’d put a $10 bill on it and I’d drag it back in. “We’ll be back later for the change!’ ”

Continue reading

From the Archives — Cap’n Kidd

Salted Kiss Sundaes and “A Real Bar”

By Susan F. Witzell, Archivist

Mr. Daniels with a clerk in front of the original ice cream parlor, 1918.
WHHM Archives, from Elsa Keil Sichel

The popular bar and restaurant in Woods Hole known as the Cap’n Kidd originated as an ice cream parlor and confectionary store. Around 1916 or 1917 Mrs. Ernest Rohmeling sold her store on the site to Harry Daniels. The building was built over pilings. The land was owned by Isaiah Spindel, who owned many plots around the Eel Pond Channel. Mr. Daniels had a retaining wall built and the land filled. He also put on an addition, adding a basement and a new front. The new addition was used for the sale of wine and beer. The original store sold ice cream, confectionaries and tobacco.

Mr. Daniels made his own ice cream until about 1929 or 1930. At that time he began selling lunches, soup and chowder, as well as breakfast, and began buying his ice cream. He called the restaurant The Oasis.

One of the most popular menu items, especially with MBL summer people who spent time there after evening lectures, was a Salted Kiss Sundae. It was made of vanilla ice cream smothered in hot butterscotch sauce and topped with whole salted peanuts. Continue reading

From the Archives — Pie in the Sky

by Deborah Griffin Scanlon

“Stock up on popovers! Demolition is starting soon!”

Social media was abuzz with Pie in the Sky’s rebuilding this winter as the bakery and café, in operation on Water Street since 1982, closed mid-December. The old building was razed and replaced, and re-opened mid-April, as promised by owner Erik Gura, who has owned the business since 2002.

The new building is essentially the same footprint, maintaining the size and structure of the old restaurant and outdoor bar. What is new, Mr. Gura said, is that there is more than double the amount of storage and work space available to employees with the addition of a basement. There is also a new public bathroom in front of the building.

An addition to the building is a flat rooftop lined with wooden railings. There is no customer access to the roof, which is used for a new generator and an afterburner. The afterburner is separately housed, Mr. Gura said, and is used to remove the smoke and smells emitted by the coffee roaster on the first floor.

Project architect was William Roslansky.

A brick floor and a heated granite pathway were added to help melt snow and ice.

What hasn’t changed is the furniture, much of it built by former Falmouth resident Ron Smith for previous owners Manny Dias and Denise Dias, and the original signs.

The idea for Pie in the Sky came when the Diases were on their honeymoon in Europe and were impressed by the great coffee shops and bakeries there. Mr. Dias’s parents had owned Jean’s Bakery in Teaticket for years. Continue reading

From the Archives — The Eaton Collection and New Accessions

by Susan F. Witzell

During the summer we were presented with a wonderful collection of photos taken by Elizabeth (Betty) Eaton. Mrs. Eaton passed away in the early summer of 2006. The photos she had taken over many years were collected from her house and donated to us by her friends and neighbors, the Densmore family.

Naushon cedar tree

Naushon cedar tree

Betty Eaton was the wife of Bill Eaton, the Boatman for Naushon Island from 1961 to 1987. She was a talented amateur photographer, working with a 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ format camera. Her images of the scenes before her were acute and well-composed. She apparently had a darkroom or the ability to have custom 8 x 10 black and white prints made. In addition to the black and white photos, she also took many 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ slides. Betty was very interested in gardening and hybridized daylilies. A dark red lily was registered as ‘Naushon’. Continue reading

From the Archives — Woods Hole’s First Yachtsman

By John Valois

The enchanted Golden Age of yachting during the years of approximately 1880 to 1895 was also a time of enormous proliferation of summer mansions, often called “cottages”, along the New England coastal shore. The available waterfront property with views of oceans, bays and sounds filled rapidly. The building of large yachts continued but small boats such as cat boats became popular, finding excellent anchorages in harbors, coves and inlets. Buzzards Bay was considered at that time the finest sailing area on the coast, having warm deep water, excellent winds and many harbors to cruise but most of all being a place to race. Newport became the racing Mecca during the Golden Age but Buzzards Bay was its equal in small boat racing in one-design classes.

In 1892 Alfred Craven Harrison retired from his presidency of the Harrison, Frazier Company, a large sugar refinery in Cuba. He sold his partnership to the American Sugar Company and he returned to his family home in Philadelphia. He continued his activities in philanthropy and in various clubs, especially the Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia. Alfred married Kate de Forest Sheldon in April 1872. Her father was President of the New York Bank and Trust. Mrs. Harrison became interested in Woods Hole as a possible summer residence. She had heard of Mr. Mahlon Ogden-Jones who had built a summer “cottage” designed by Edmund Wheelwright. The estate was on three acres overlooking Little Harbor, Woods Hole. Queen Anne motifs dominated the interior of the house, tall chimneys, varied roof-lines, and leaded glass windows. In 1892 the Mr. and Mrs. Harrison bought this estate from Mr. Ogden-Jones. Continue reading

From the Archives — Reminiscences Of A Summer At The Breakwater Hotel, 1960 (Part 1)

By Allan W. Swank

“You’re kidding! You’re asking me if I want to go with you to Massachusetts? For the whole summer? I’d be crazy if I said anything but yes!” And so it began. My brother had spent the previous summer working as a waiter at a hotel on Cape Cod and his employer had just written to ask him if he wanted to come back and work as the head waiter next summer. Larry hadn’t answered her yet. What ever gave him the idea of asking his 16 year old little brother if he wanted to go along, I’ll never know.

I like to think that I got out of school early that spring/summer but I’m not sure. It’s hard for me to imagine that happening but it could have. I do know that we were among the first summer employees to arrive at the hotel. Larry ushered me into the hotel to meet Miss Redfield. She was a dainty, petite, little old lady and the held a smoking cigarette between her fingers. I soon came to expect to see her always with a cigarette or have one lit nearby. Rumor had it that she smoked three packs a day but I never saw her inhale (shades of Bill Clinton). I often spotted burned out butts with long ashes attached lying in ash trays. Heloise was a very pleasant, grandmotherly woman. Continue reading

From the Archives — Reminiscences Of A Summer At The Breakwater Hotel, 1960 (Part 2)

By Allan W. Swank, 2008

Part 1 of Allan Swank’s Reminiscences appeared in MAINSHEET, Spring 2008. He was 16 years old in 1960 when he came to work with his brother at Miss Redfield’s Breakwater Hotel.

Woods Hole. Weird name, but then, really no stranger than town names anywhere else. I understood Woods Hole was the location of the Marine Biological Laboratory and that the MBL held world renown. I never took any tours or saw any of the inner workings of the Labs but I came to be constantly aware of the fact of the MBL’s presence. My first fascination with Woods Hole has stayed with me, well, till now, now that I think about it. For this teenager, Woods Hole presented a whole new world. Larry, having had former experience there, shared a couple of hints with me. “Never order a chocolate shake. You’ll get a glass of chocolate milk. To get a shake, order a frap“. With a chuckle, I thought, “OK “. Mocha, another new discovery, quickly became my favorite flavor coffee/chocolate. Other items, locally common but completely foreign to me, were the stuffed quahog (my thanks to Susan of the Woods Hole Historical Museum for reminding me of a bunch of forgotten details), and fried clams. The Cap’n Kidd served up the best around. Continue reading

From the Archives — A Town Called Nobska: a Cautionary Tale?

By Les Garrick

100 years ago some wealthy shore-dwelling summer dudes proposed to divide Falmouth Township into two distinct towns. Their mouthpiece was realtor Horace S. Crowell, the developer of Penzance Peninsula in Woods Hole. It was not an idle threat. Crowell was backed publicly by wealthy Bostonian Henry H. Fay, a son of the late Joseph Story Fay, who in 1850 and 1852 had purchased a large part of Woods Hole from Ward M. Parker. The father and later the son bought more land in Woods Hole and in Falmouth. Henry built a summer residence on Nobska Point in 1879. The senior Fay, a respected public benefactor, reforested some land in Woods Hole and donated properties in Woods Hole for churches, a school and a recreation field, as well as giving the town Good Will Park in Falmouth.

In December 1906 Crowell filed “An Act to Incorporate the Town of Nobska” at the Massachusetts General Court. If it became law, the new town would consist of all coastal lands on Buzzards Bay from Woods Hole to Bourne and all land west of a line bisecting Long Pond thence to the western edge of Deep Pond in Hatchville and finally to the town line where Sandwich and Bourne meet. It would contain three-fourths of coastal Falmouth. Continue reading

From the Archives — The Log Books of Captain Anthony Howes

by Nancy S. Bundy

“for we see people almost every day disappointed in their hopes & desires and we are taught to believe it is all for the best.”

August 22, 1848

The portraits of Captain Levi Howes (1812-1874) and his wife Myra, recently acquired by the Dennis Historical Society and published in their September, 2010, newsletter, gave us the impetus to take a further look at the clipper ship logs of his brother, Captain Anthony Howes (1820-1868), in the Woods Hole Historical Collection. These log books of voyages by the Amulet and the Hippogriffe were donated by Ellen Clark Howes, wife of James Sturgis Howes, Jr.

In terse words describing a monsoon off Calcutta flooding the decks and drowning fowl, pigs and vegetables that were provisions for the voyage home; worries of looming water-rationing while becalmed in the Bay of Bengal; moments of lonely reflection on a life at sea and friends left behind; the need to shake off poetry reading and return to practical matters; forfeiting tobacco-chewing in favor of an occasional cigar for health reasons, the log book of the Amulet provides a glimpse, in an elegant cursive hand, of both the inner and worldly life of a clipper ship captain.

A page from the log bookFrom the tiny squiggle that is Sesuit Harbor on the map of Cape Cod Bay, came some of the finest sailing ships in the history of maritime commerce. The Shiverick Shipyard built clipper ships sailed by the seagoing sons of East Dennis, prominent among them the Howes and the Crowells. Their stories the Shivericks, the Howes and the Crowells are deeply entwined with the history of Woods Hole in the 1800s. Continue reading