And Now, 2018

“Goodbye to you my trusted friend

We’ve known each other since we were 9 or 10.

We had joy, we had fun

We had seasons in the sun

But the wine and the song

Like the seasons have all gone.”


The song is “Seasons in the Sun” and Canadian singer Terry Jacks sold 10 million copies of the record after its release in 1974. The song was written by Jacques Brel in 1961 and was originally named “Le Moribond,” the dying man. That original had French lyrics. American poet Rod McEwen wrote the English lyrics and Terry Jacks had a smash hit. As my regular readers know, events happening around me trigger songs that play over and over in my brain.

“Seasons in the Sun” popped up as I was thinking about Carl Olson, who died on New Year’s Eve. As the lyric said, I have known Carl since age 9 or 10 when we played Little League baseball together. Carl was a good player and always very friendly. Carl had lots of jokes and enjoyed a good laugh. He gained local renown as the “Chowdahman.” Carl delivered thousands of servings of his excellent clam chowder to friends and acquaintances, usually when one least expected it. You were simply asked to return the plastic receptacle. It was a pure act of kindness and always so much appreciated by the recipients.

Through the years, Carl and I often shared a laugh about a little game played at the Chatham Post Office in the early '60s. I had the good fortune of being a summer substitute for three summers at the post office while in college. Harold Tuttle was the man in charge, and Tut created a game which entailed trying to identify a couple with just their first names. Otto and Mary were the Fieblekorns, Whit and Phyllis were the Tilestons, Harold and Harriet were the Tuttles, and, of course, Axel and Reliance were Carl’s parents, the Olsons. Carl was one of the few people who could name most or all of the couples. I will miss Carl as will so many others here in Chatham.

It’s a new year, 2018, and the effects of climate change are being felt here on Cape Cod. I was never a particularly good science student, but I’m told that the extreme cold we have endured of late is partly because it is much warmer than usual farther north. The theory makes no sense to me, but since so many esteemed scientists believe it, I have no choice but to go along. The bitter cold and high winds have tried to force us all indoors. Being warm and dry and safe sounds good, but the storm also woke a dormant habit in many Cape Codders. The habit is that some of us will always find a reason to venture out at the height of a storm. Usually we don’t have a very good reason, and I’m sure it is foolish and sometimes risky, but get out we must. Some blame cabin fever, and some claim to be curious as to what is happening around the town, but I feel the hardy residents of a town, surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic, have an inherent need to defy the adverse elements of nature. No storm could expect to limit their independence and freedom. So, today, as the rain pours down and the wind gusts reach 60 or possibly 70 miles per hour, the Squire bar was full and still more people were coming in. Not a one had to be there, but all seemed pleased to see others with the same inherent need.

And on New Year’s Eve with temperatures close to 10 degrees and wind chill approaching zero, Chatham had its First Night celebration. Boston canceled events due to the cold, but in Chatham there was a large crowd for the town photo at the Lighthouse. Chatham’s First Night went on as scheduled. The number of spectators and runners for the Carnival Caper was down from most years, but those who did participate were noisy and spirited. The Gorilla could not operate the sound system and the Great White Shark, who was to enter triumphantly to the Jaws Theme, simply floated in and passed through the assembled runners. The gorilla blamed the malfunction on the cold, but an astute bystander explained that since he was a lowland gorilla, and accustomed to temperatures above 65 degrees, he could hardly be expected to successfully operate a sophisticated sound system in these conditions. Squire owner and race sponsor Richard Costello said he would give the gorilla one more chance to get it right. So next New Year’s, the pressure is on.

There were a few cancellations. The horses that draw the wagons on Main Street could not come out in the cold. The Diamond Jubilee Carousel Organ could not operate, but the Noise Parade and both fireworks demonstrations took place. The many performers filled the venues. Total attendees was down a bit, but Ron Clark and his vast army of volunteers did an admirable job under the most adverse of conditions. They deserve our thanks.

This will be a most interesting year for Chatham as a town. Among other issues, there is a new committee determining just what would be the best use of the Eldredge Garage property. It would seem likely that parking would be some part of the recommendation since the property appears to be the best potential parking area close to downtown. Parking for Main Street has been one of Chatham’s major issues for decades. There are those who argue that it is only a problem part of the year, but since the extended summer season is so critically important to our local economy, I feel parking has to be part of the equation. I also believe renovation of the existing small square building at the front of the property is advisable. The addition of rest rooms at the rear of that building could help make the property a real asset for the town. Even before any plan is formulated, the town must address the lack of drainage there. With every rain of any duration, the ground and the street are badly flooded. It will be interesting to see how that problem is dealt with, and just what the committee comes up with. Stay tuned.