In the late 1950s, my grandparents began a yearly tradition of renting a small cottage on the Cape Cod National Seashore, escaping New Jersey’s heavy summer humidity for a few weeks on the open Atlantic shore. Each year, they would bring my father and his younger siblings until they began to move away to start lives of their own, one by one. I was the first grandchild brought to the cottages near Marconi Beach, starting another generation of family tradition. I have vivid memories of getting lost in the dunes, listening to Grammy’s baseball games on the radio and reading books in the low light of the living room. We all loved that place, but it was Grammy who loved it most.
For nearly 30 years, my grandparents migrated to Massachusetts for the summers, where a small smattering of rental cottages became a second home. When my grandfather passed away in 2002, I stumbled upon a stack of metal tins while rummaging through the basement of their house. In them were hundreds of Kodachrome slides Grampy had taken over the years on his Exakta VX, all in pristine condition. None of us had any idea what a photographer he had been. And of course, my favorite shots of the bunch were the ones he took over the years of summering in South Wellfleet.
This past weekend, my mom’s family gathered on the Cape and we took a short detour to the cottages perched high on the dunes, 125 feet above Marconi Beach. It had been 20 years since my last visit, and it was refreshing to see everything was exactly the same as I remembered. The same family still owns and rents the cottages, which remain remarkably lo-fi and simple, without telephones or TVs. We walked out onto the dunes to the beach, all of us awash in memory, quite certain that at least Grammy is there to this day, listening to her baseball games, knitting and enjoying the sea.
Here are some of my grandfather’s photos from Wellfleet, as well as a few polaroids I snapped on the Konica this weekend.
To mark the 1000th comment on Little Miss Twig, and as a thank you for your continued reading, I’m giving away a print a day this week. Just leave a comment on any post tagged giveaway, and I’ll pick a random number for each day’s prize.
I’ve loved hearing about your travel wishlists. As summer winds down, I’m curious to know what places define summer for you. I grew up on the New England coast and frankly, it does not qualify as summer unless I spend a good chunk of it here. Where is your summer?
Winners will be announced next Monday.