Well, hello, and welcome to the latest exhibit in the Museum of Me. This month’s exhibit is inspired by the season and we are showcasing a favorite family vacation.
My family did not have a lot of money and any vacations we took were a car ride (never a plane ride) away. The place we went to most consistently was Cape Cod and for many years, 1970 to 1975 or so, my Nana rented a cottage for all of us for the month of July at a place called Mashnee Village. If you’re familiar with Cape Cod, this area was over the Bourne Bridge and immediately to the right, across the causeway from Pocasset.
The cottage we had was right on the water, you just walked down a little path of wildflowers and there was the beach. In those days, all the cottages in the village were the same. A living room in the middle, a kitchen to the right, and two bedrooms and a bathroom to the left. My Nana and Bumpa, my mother and I, and my brother Donald were always there. My dad came on the weekends and my oldest brother, who was 18 by then, rarely came because he was too cool for family vacations at that time in his life.
I have so many wonderful memories of our time there.
There was a family of skunks that would come every night and my mom would put out our leftovers in a tin pie plate and they would eat them. I would sit in my grandfather’s lap in the twilight and watch them with awe and a little bit of fear.
There was a village clubhouse and they had happy hour for the grown ups every afternoon. On Tuesday nights they had weenie roasts. There was also a pool (which in my youthful stupidity I preferred over the ocean) and when it rained they showed movies. I remember one very rainy and windy afternoon, I went with my brother to the movies and it was Godzilla. I was terrified but my brother wouldn’t leave because he loved it so I was stuck until it was over. I can still see my mom walking down the road to come and get us with a gigantic beach umbrella to protect us all from the rain.
One summer, probably 1971 or 1972, my mom took a bad fall off of her bike while we were out for a ride. It had something to do with the maintenance guy mowing the lawn and him not seeing my mom because a car was coming and she swerved to get out of the way and went over the handlebars. The road was macadam and my mom’s knees, hands, and elbows were hurt badly. We had to take my brother to Boy Scout camp and I remember the Scoutmaster asking her, with a sideways glance at my dad, if everything was okay at home.
It was all pretty idyllic. The days felt so long and I loved being there with everyone, including our first Siamese cat, Simba, who followed my mom around like a dog and would sleep under her chaise lounge when she was at the beach. It was actually at that cottage that my nana first attempted to teach me to knit. I never got the hang of it then (probably because she assumed I’d knit left handed and I don’t but I still consider it my first foray into knitting.) I remember eating lots of fresh striper and steamers, local corn on the cob and tomatoes, and blueberry pies that my mom would make from berries we picked.
Mashnee Village is still there . . . in a way. The houses are no longer owned by the corporation but by individuals. The clubhouse is long gone, of course. But in 2015 we visited friends who were staying at a house there. I was reminiscing about my summers there and wondered if I could find the cottage that we rented. We set out for a walk, knowing that many many of those cottages have now been converted to fancier houses, but I remembered my way around and as we came down a street I said, it’s going to be right up here around the bend if it’s still there. And guess what?
Yep. That’s the same place. I cried when I saw it and felt so grateful for all of the memories of those summers at Mashnee Village.