Thursday, September 30, 2021

In My Footsteps Podcast Episode 39: Running A Marathon, Being A 1980's New England Patriots Fan, Harpers Ferry WV, 1980's Saturday Morning Cartoons


Monday, September 20, 2021

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Cape Cod Community College

    For sixty years Cape Cod Community College has been the go-to for locals wishing to seek higher education. In 2021 it includes 40 degree concentration options, more than 45 certificate programs, and serves more than 6,000 students annually. 4 C’s, as it’s commonly referred to, feels like it has been a part of the fabric of Cape Cod forever. While it has been, surprisingly the road from concept to the opening day took well over a decade. Through various roadblocks Cape Cod Community College managed to not only become a reality but thrive. Here is how 4 C’s came into existence.

    The initial rumblings about a potential community college on Cape Cod began just after World War II. A catalyst for this college was the impending departure of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy from Hyannis.

    The Massachusetts Maritime Academy was originally founded in 1891. First known as the Massachusetts Nautical Training School it resided on Rowes Wharf along Atlantic Avenue in Boston. In 1936 the entire school, now known as the familiar Massachusetts Maritime Academy, relocated to Hyannis. It took over the buildings on Main Street that formerly housed the Hyannis Normal School.

The Hyannis Normal School c.1900(Maxwell Library/Bridgewater State University)

    In 1946 Mass Maritime had acquired land at Taylors Point in Buzzards Bay with the plan to move the school there in the not too distant future. May 1948 saw the first mentions of constructing a community college on Cape Cod. The Massachusetts State Board of Education began discussions with newly elected Senator for the Cape Cod and Plymouth District Edward C. Stone. The discussions centered around the need for a college on the Cape. This led to Stone introducing a bill in the state Senate in December 1948. However introducing the bill, known as Bill 213, was the easy part.

    Mass Maritime officially moved out of Hyannis in 1949 leaving the former campus empty. Interest was gauged in a potential community college with a questionnaire directed toward the graduating Class of 1949. Of the 683 high school seniors who responded 168 expressed interest in attending a possible college based out of Hyannis.

    The potential interest sat at just under 25%. Despite the relatively low positive response there was hope from Senator Stone of ground breaking for a new college sometime by late 1950. The issue of having enough students to warrant such a large project was a sticking point though. Still early in 1950 various towns and organizations on Cape Cod gave their approval at meetings held by Stone to proceed with the community college project.

Sen. Edward Stone c.1953(Wikimedia

    Stone recommended $100,000 for the funding of the school. Incredibly during the summer of 1950 the Senate rejected the bill, then reconsidered and voted yes. The bill’s nuts and bolts were then delayed to another session making the entire process quite confusing. As if in an attempt to remind Cape Codders of his efforts Senator Stone refiled the bill for the college on December 4, 1950.

    The community college project sat in limbo for several years. It was dealt what could have been a death blow when on July 13, 1955 Stone’s bill was voted down in the Senate by a vote of 22-15. The opposed said that the community college was by this time ‘old news’ and that there was a greater need for a state medical school. The hopes of a Cape Cod based college were dashed.

    The success of the Falmouth night school rekindled the desire for the college. It had opened in 1931 and had proven to be a worthwhile investment. In 1956 alone 260 adult students graduated the Falmouth establishment. By 1958 numbers such as these had reopened the possibility of a Cape Cod college.

    Once again at the forefront was Senator Stone. He spoke at many events urging the creation of the community college. Stone said it should be a two-year school allowing Cape Cod students the chance to get a higher education while also not dealing with the exorbitant costs of room and board for living on a campus.

    His desire to bring a community college to Cape Cod kept Senator Stone involved in local politics long past a traditional retirement age. At long last the project became reality in July 1960. The 82-year-old Stone was thrilled to announce that the plan was for Cape Cod Community College to open in September 1961.

The original campus on Main Street.(Sturgis Library)

    As was the original plan the college’s campus was to be the former Hyannis Normal School. The buildings were vacated by the current tenants in time for an October 1, 1960 deadline. From there Dr. Irving Bartlett was named the initial president of the college. Bartlett earned a PhD from Brown University.

    The first person to enroll at the new Cape Cod Community College was 17-year-old Suzanne Kathleen Clowry of Dennis. A special ceremony was held on the college campus on February 16, 1961. Clowry was welcomed by Dr. Bartlett and Senator Stone. Her plan was to transfer to Boston University after two years and become a teacher.

    In all 165 students enrolled for the first semester of college in the fall of 1961. The first Dean of Students was Dr. Elinor Hanna who came aboard after working as principal of Clifton Senior High School in Clifton, New Jersey. One by one the faculty was added with praise heaped upon each of them in the local newspapers.

    Still it could not be smooth sailing for long. Sadly the budget for the college was cut leading to frustration from both Senator Stone and Dr. Bartlett. Leading up to registration day for students $250,000 of renovations were done on the buildings of the former Normal School. The interior was said to bear no resemblance to the old Mass Maritime Academy after the renovations.

    The first day of official classes was September 22, 1961 with an orientation program for the 165 registered students. In keeping with the rocky road that led to the opening of Cape Cod Community College took place in the shadow of Hurricane Esther. Even though classes had begun the students helped out additionally moving equipment that was necessary. However despite the long scenic route Cape Cod finally had its community college.

    Cape Cod Community College was a huge success. The first graduating class of 72 got their diplomas on June 9, 1963. Senator Edward Stone who fought so hard for the college lived long enough to see the first graduating class. He passed away at the age of 85 on June 6, 1964. The school rapidly outgrew its initial home on Main Street in Hyannis. In 1964 plans began for a new location for 4 C’s. It took until 1970 but a new 115-acre campus was opened just off of the Mid-Cape Highway where it still stands today.  Its former campus on Main Street in Hyannis is now home to the Town Offices.

    Six decades of service and thousands of graduates, Cape Cod Community College took the long road to creation. Thanks to the tireless hard work of Senator Edward Stone and the unrelenting support of the Cape Cod community the college became a reality despite countless roadblocks. Rather than coasting on legacy Cape Cod Community College continues to expand and enhance its experience. This dedication will keep 4 C’s a viable option for young and older students for decades to come.


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Monday, September 13, 2021

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Shootflying Hill, Hyannis


    In the 21st century the geographical area known as Shootflying Hill is seen by thousands of people daily. At the same time it is passed by and given barely a moment’s thought. Standing 220-feet high it sits directly on the route of the Mid-Cape Highway. In between Exits 5 and 6, sorry Exits 65 and 68, vehicles traverse Shootflying Hill in heading through Barnstable. However for the better part of a century Shootflying Hill was a destination. From hiking and picnicking to scenic overlooks in the early days of the Mid-Cape Highway, this is the story of when Shootflying Hill was one of Cape Cod’s most popular attractions.

    In the 19th century and the time preceding it Shootflying Hill in Barnstable was one of the top places to go for hunters. It was given its name due to the fact that hunters scaled the hill to shoot ducks and other birds. Despite its status as Cape Cod’s most popular hill for activities Shootflying Hill is not the Cape’s tallest. Ahead of it are Pine Hill in Pocasset at 306-feet, Telegraph Hill in Sandwich at 289-feet, and Town Line Hill on the Bourne/Sandwich line at 277-feet.

The Shootflying Hill observation tower c. 1918(Henry Isenberg

    Being perhaps the only spot on Cape Cod from which someone can see both Nantucket Sound 3 ¼ miles to the south and Cape Cod Bay 3 ½ miles to the north it was naturally a place that locals and visitors congregated to in the late-19th century. As the Cape grew as a summer vacation destination Shootflying Hill did as well. While picnics along the grassy slope were commonplace some wanted to go to the next level. An idea to put an observation tower atop the hill was brought forth by an unnamed woman from the village of Wianno.

    In 1890 this woman sold newspaper subscriptions to the Barnstable Patriot to help raise the necessary $200 to erect a 20-foot tall wooden observation tower on Shootflying Hill. It was completed that August and was an immediate sensation. The Lookout, as it was often called, drew hundreds of visitors annually wither on foot or via the dirt carriage road which was nearby. Despite the success of the tower little was done to maintain it.

    Things came to a head in August 1904 when various complaints about the tower and carriage road were aired. Some of the damage to the wooden tower was related to the harsh New England weather. Much of it though came from carelessness or intentional damaging including people carving their initials into the green stain of the tower. The structure was in need of repairs amounting to more than $300.

    The Lookout took on a second purpose in October 1911 when it was designated a fire tower. An upper story, enclosed and surrounded by windows was added shortly thereafter. The first appointed observer for the fire tower was Calvin Benson of West Barnstable. Benson reported more than 2,300 visitors to the tower in 1912, sometimes as many as 40 in a day.

    Adding the responsibility of watching for forest fires made it easier to have a new tower built in 1914. It didn’t hurt that the existing tower was in dangerous risk of collapse. At a town meeting a unanimous vote was given to raise the necessary $350 for a new tower on Shootflying Hill. The new structure was completed in October 1914. This tower was made of steel, stood 40-feet tall, and 18-feet wide at the base. It was said to have been easily spotted from miles around.

    This new tower stood tall atop Shootflying Hill for more than 30 years. It grew in popularity as time went on. This included 1923 where visitors came from 29 states and 6 foreign countries to see the observation and fire tower. Over time it was eventually decided that a new tower needed to be built. However this one would not be on Shootflying Hill.

    In August 1947 construction began on a new tower. This one was to be located on Clay Hill only ¾ mile west of Shootflying Hill. When finished the new tower stood 68-feet tall. It was opened for duty on March 1, 1948. Subsequently the Shootflying Hill tower was torn down. For the first time in nearly 60 years there was no tower atop the hill.

The Clay Hill Tower seen from the eastbound lane of the Mid-Cape Highway(Google Maps).

    Only a few years after the tower came down Shootflying Hill became linked with the new Mid-Cape Highway. In 1954 the new roadway finished at a rotary just past the hill, what would become Exit 6(68). In the following years the highway eventually extended all the way into Provincetown. This made Shootflying Hill a perfect midpoint and prime real estate for a rest area.

    In the immediate area around Shootflying Hill became home to a large water tank in the mid-1960’s. It also became home to a transmitter tower in 1970 for the new WQRC radio station. In the Fall of 1988 the Shootflying Hill rest area was closed by the state due to safety reasons. This brought the tenure of the titular hill as an attraction for visitors and locals.

    After the closing of the rest area the land between the two side of the Mid-Cape Highway was allowed to grow over. Naturally being located in the center of a busy roadway it is nearly impossible, and unwise, to try to journey to where so many people used to hike and picnic. That being said, if one dared to cross into the area it is possible to find remnants of the bases of the former fire tower on top of Shootflying Hill.

The former location of the tower and rest area.(Google Maps)

    Today it is a geographical feature passed by thousands daily yet the vast majority likely have no idea of the popular attraction it once was. An area for hunting, an area for picnicking and sightseeing, and the home of an observation and fire tower, Shootflying Hill in Barnstable can lay claim to all of these things.