vodka, cranberry juice and lime. Why Cape Codder? Because the major crop on Cape Cod is its famous cranberries.
The Colonial period produced two really important figures — one who drew fame, the other who worked behind the scenes in the cause of liberty.
James Otis, "The Patriot," (February 5, 1725 – May 23, 1783), was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts, a member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly, and an early advocate of the Patriot views against British policy that led to the American Revolution. His catchphrase "Taxation without representation is tyranny" became the basic Patriot position. I thought that Otis Air National Guard Base was named after them, but it was named in honor of pilot and Boston surgeon, Lt. Frank "Jesse" Otis. Who does not have any ties to Cape Cod.
His sister Mercy Otis Warren. (September 14, 1728 – October 19, 1814) was the one who worked behind the scene because politics was a men’s world in 18th century. She was a political writer and propagandist of the American Revolution.
Lemuel Shaw of West Barnstable (January 9, 1781 – March 30, 1861), one of the most important jurists in the state's history, served as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (1830–1860). Prior to his appointment he also served for several years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and as a state senator. His influence in framing the role of the court extended to the federal level.
Captain Jonathan W. Walker of Harwich (1799-1878), the "man with the branded hand," was an abolitionist long before that cause was popular. His influence on the movement to end slavery made him both famous and important beyond Cape Cod.
Jonathan Walker branded hand
Walker was born in Harwich on Cape Cod in 1799 and spent his early years between the shipyard and the sea. His life-long interest in the abolition of slavery probably began in 1835 when he went on an expedition to Mexico to assist in the colonization of escaped American Black slaves, and he was also one of the conductors along the underground railroad. By 1844, Walker moved to Florida where his efforts for the abolitionist cause met with adversity. In that year, he attempted to assist seven escaped slaves to freedom by sailing them from Florida to the West Indies.
During the voyage, he became ill. His crew was untrained in sailing and navigational procedures and, as a result, they were "rescued" by a proslavery wrecking sloop and returned to Florida. The slaves were returned to their masters, and Walker was arrested. He was convicted and sentenced in a federal court, spent one year in solitary confinement, and was fined $600. It was at this time that his right palm was branded with the letters "S.S." for "slave stealer".
Caleb Chase of Harwich (1831-1908) was the co-founder of the Chase and Sanborn Coffee Co. His legacy continues in the scholarships still given out from the endowment he provided in his estate in 1908. He never lost sight of his Cape roots, leaving living legacies to both Harwich and Dennis.
Caleb Chase moved to Boston and in 1864, he went on to business as a coffee roaster. While James Sanborn moved to Boston three years later and set himself as a coffee seller. They partnered to form Chase and Sanborn in 1874. In 1878, Caleb and James Sanborn introduced canned coffee. They advertised heavily the Chase and Sanborn product heavily and consumers responded enthusiastically to its quality and convenience. Chase and Sanborn coffees did well into the first half of the 20th century helped by heavy advertising. The company was the first ground coffee in America to be distributed coast to coast.
Katharine Lee Bates (August 12, 1859 – March 28, 1929) of Falmouth was an American songwriter.
She is remembered as the author of the words to the anthem "America the Beautiful". She popularized "Mrs. Santa Claus" through her poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride (1889).
Brewster-born novelist Joseph Crosby Lincoln,
(1870-1944), created the traditional image of Cape Cod. His literary portrayal of Cape Cod can also be understood as a pre-modern haven occupied by individuals of old Yankee stock which was offered to readers as an antidote to an America that was undergoing rapid modernization, urbanization, immigration, and industrialization. In Chatham, he lived in a shingle-style house named "Crosstrees" that was located on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Brewster naturalist John Hay (1915-2011) wrote 18 books. His first, The Run, was published in 1959 and his last, Mind the gap , in 2004. His books were in the vanguard of making people aware of just how fragile our environment is. In addition to being a writer and naturalist, John Hay was an early and significant conservationist. He was the key founder of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in 1954 and its president for 25 years.
Later, as one of the early presidents of the Brewster Conservation Committee, he was largely responsible for convincing the town to set aside vast stretches of salt marsh off Cape Cod Bay as conservation land along Route 6A.
In 1952, a struggling writer from the Midwest named Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) moved to Cape Cod with his family, staying first briefly in Osterville before finding a home on Scudder Lane in Barnstable.
For a supplementary income, he opened a Saab dealership on Route 6A, the first of its kind on the Cape. The franchise closed in the early '60s. "I believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise remain a mystery: why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize for literature," Vonnegut would later facetiously remark. Like so many experiences in Vonnegut's life, his time running a Cape car dealership worked its way into his fiction. And just as the area influenced Vonnegut's writing, so, too, did the author, who died in 2007, leave an indelible mark on Barnstable and on the Cape as a whole.
Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922, studied chemistry at Cornell University, but, before graduating, enrolled in the Army to fight World War II. He shipped off to Europe only to be captured by Germans in the Battle of the Bulge soon after his arrival. He was a prisoner in Dresden, where, on Feb. 13, 1945 American and British bombers famously firebombed the city. Vonnegut survived the bombing in an underground slaughterhouse and meat locker alongside other prisoners. The experience and the horrific visions of the decimated aftermath of the city inspired what many consider to be Vonnegut's finest work: "Slaughterhouse-Five."
After the war, Vonnegut returned to the U.S. and got married. After stints as a police reporter in Chicago and in public-relations man for General Electric in Schenectady, New York, Vonnegut decided to quit his day job and move with his family to the Cape to pursue his writerly ambitions. He had visited Provincetown the year before on vacation and fallen in love with the place.
Despite the ill-fated "Saab Cape Cod" venture, Vonnegut developed and defined his storytelling craft during his time on the Cape, writing some of his best-known novels, including "The Sirens of Titan," "Mother Night" and "Cat's Cradle." He honed his style here, and tackled subjects as diverse as religion, government, war, science and society in general in his fiction.
His works are a combination of serious social commentary, science fiction and comic absurdity. The publishing of "Slaughterhouse-Five" in 1969 marked his big breakthrough and catapulted Vonnegut to literary stardom.
The Cape and its influence appear repeatedly in Vonnegut's work. "Cat's Cradle," an arms race satire, centers on a scientist who happens to own a cottage on the Cape. His 1968 short story "Welcome to the Monkey House" takes place in a dystopian Hyannis. In a later novel, "Breakfast of Champions," Vonnegut invokes his experience selling Saabs on Route 6A for the character of Midwestern Pontiac dealer Dwayne Hoover.
Beyond his literary output here, Vonnegut also distinguished himself as an active member of the local community. He served as a Sturgis Library trustee, was a member of and actor for the Barnstable Comedy Club, and also participated in the Orleans Arena Theater.
Vonnegut while in the army, early 1940s
Vonnegut in 1972
Kurt Vonnegut with his oldest daughter, Edie, in a family photo from his Cape Cod years. Edie, a painter, lives with her husband in a renovated barn behind the old Vonnegut home.