Showing posts with label mattapoisett. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mattapoisett. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ned Point Light In Mattapoisett, MA

We paid a visit to Mattapoisett, Massachusetts to check out Ned Point Light.

Ned Point Light is also known as Ned's Point Light by the locals. It was built in 1838 for $4500 of those 1838 dollars. John Quincy Adams was instrumental in getting the funds. It is older than Mattapoisett, which was part of Rochester until 1857.

It was made with stones that they found nearby. The contractor (Leonard Hammond), who also owned the town tavern, didn't finish in time. Stalling an inspector at his tavern, he had a crew try to make it look finished. The inspector stepped into the lighthouse and fell through the floor, which was merely planks laid over barrels.

It used to have a lightkeeper's house, but that was floated across Buzzards Bay to Bourne, where it now serves Wings Neck Light.

Ned Point Light was deactivated from 1951-1963. It was restored by locals in the 1990s.

It isn't open for touring, other than once a week in the summer. It's 39 feet high and has 32 granite steps.

She guards the northern edge of Mattapoisett Harbor.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Battle Of Marshfield

As we approach April 19th, it is easy to view the American Revolution as a US vs. England thing... even if most of the Americans still thought of themselves as English (Paul Revere never shouted "The British are coming!" during his ride, entirely because of this phenomena. Paul actually was shouting the less poetic "The regulars are out!") when the fighting started.

The US/England thing is easy to understand now, a few hundred years after the fact. What is less-known is that there existed considerable static between towns during the pre-revolt period.

The basic cause of this discord was the issue that would launch the Revolution. Some people thought that the colonies should break free from the crown, while others thought that we should remain in the kingdom.

As that famous American we know as Mel Gibson once said, "an elected legislature can trample your rights just as easily as a king can."

Others disagreed with Mel, and there was thick tension in the air throughout the 1760s and 1770s. If you voiced the wrong political opinion at the wrong tavern, you might be chased from the town by a mob.

... and maybe hung from this tree.

Here are a few examples of what would happen to you if you failed to say "Screw The Crown" quickly enough in pre-war New England. Its a lot of reading, but it should prove entertaining.

- "At Taunton also, about 40 Miles from Boston, the Mob attacked the House of Daniel Leonard, Esqr.,3 one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace; & a Barrister at Law. They fired Bullets into the House & obliged him to fly from it to save his Life."

- "Peter Oliver Esqr., a Justice of the Peace at Middleborough, was obliged by the Mob to sign an Obligation not to execute his Office under the new Acts. At the same Place, a Mr. Silas Wood... was dragged by a Mob of 2 or 300 Men about a Mile to a River in Order to drown him, but, one of his Children hanging around him with Cries & Tears, he was induced to recant, though, even then, very reluctantly."

- "The Mob at Concord, about 20 Miles from Boston, abused a Deputy Sheriff of Middlesex, they making him pass through a Lane of them, sometimes walking backwards & sometimes forward, Cap in Hand, & they beating him."

- "All the Plymouth Protestors against Riots, as also all the military Officers, were compelled by a Mob of 2000 Men collected from that County & the County of Barnstable to recant & resign their military Commissions. Although the Justices of the Peace were then sitting in the Town of Plymouth, yet the Mob ransacked the House of a Mr. Foster, a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, a Man of 70 Years of Age, which obliged him to fly into the Woods to secrete himself, where he was lost for some Time and was very near to the losing of his Life."

- "A Jesse Dunbar, of Halifax in the County of Plymouth, (was) ordered it into a Cart, & then put ... into the Belly of the (slaughtered) Ox and carted him 4 Miles, with a Mob around him, when they made him pay a Dollar after taking three other Cattle & a Horse from him. They then delivered him to another Mob, who carted him 4 Miles further & forced another Dollar from him. The second Mob delivered him to a third Mob, who abused him by throwing Dirt at him, as also throwing the Offals [innards] in his Face & endeavoring to cover him with it, to the endangering his Life, & after other Abuses, & carrying him 4 Miles further, made him pay another Sum of Money. They urged the Councilor’s Lady, at whose House they stopped, to take the Ox; but she being a Lady of a firm Mind refused; upon which they tipped the Cart up & the Ox down into the Highway, & left it to take Care of it self. And in the Month of February following, this same Dunbar was selling Provisions at Plymouth when the Mob seized him, tied him to his Horse’s Tail, & in that Manner drove him through Dirt & mire out of the Town."

- "In November 1774, David Dunbar of Halifax aforesaid, being an Ensign in the Militia, a Mob headed by some of the Select Men of the Town, demand[ed] his Colors [flags] of him. He refused, saying, that if his commanding Officer demanded them he should obey, otherwise he would not part with them: upon which they broke into his House by Force & dragged him out. They had prepared a sharp Rail to set him upon;12 & in resisting them they seized him (by his private parts) & fixed him upon the Rail, & was held on it by his Legs & Arms, & tossed up with Violence & greatly bruised so that he did not recover for some Time. They beat him, & after abusing him about two Hours he was obliged, in Order to save his Life, to give up his Colors."

- "A Parish Clerk was taken out of his Bed in a Cold Night & beat against his Hearth by Men who held him by his Arms & Legs. He was then laid across his Horse without his Clothes & drove to a considerable Distance in that naked Condition. His Nephew Dr. Abner Beebe, a Physician, complained of the bad Usage of his Uncle & spoke very freely in Favor of [the royal] Government, for which he was assaulted by a Mob, stripped naked, & hot Pitch was poured upon him, which blistered his Skin. He was then carried to an Hog Sty & rubbed over with Hog’s Dung. They threw the Hog’s Dung in his Face & rammed some of it down his Throat;"

- In Freetown, they used to paint Loyalists yellow, as "the Mob found that paint is cheaper than Tar and Feathers."

- "Patriots from Duxbury did kidnap Marshfield Loyalists Paul White, Dr. Stockbridge and Elisha Ford, and carted them to the "Liberty Pole" in Duxbury. There they were "forced to sign recantations" of their Tory sentiments, likely in response to mob violence."

By 1768, the crown deemed it necessary to send 4000 troops to pacify Boston, which was also getting ugly. Other than the potential for a Lexington-style suburban incursion by British troops, the countryside was (mostly) left on her own.

You know how it went from there. In 1770, the redcoats fired on the colonists, in what is known as the Boston Massacre. In 1773, the Boston Tea Party went down. In 1775, on April 19th, warfare broke out at Lexington/Concord.

As you can still see in modern occupational wars like Iraq or Afghanistan, the occupiers tend to stick to the cities. You have airports and docks to move supplies in, and cities usually sit astride rivers and highways that other trade flows through. The countryside tends to belong to the rebels.

This was the case in Massachusetts. Remember, the Revolution didn't start until the redcoats marched far enough out into the countryside to find farmers crazy enough to pick a fight with the world's best light infantry. While they may not use exactly those terms, every schoolkid in America can tell you the basics of Lexington/Concord.

What they can't tell you about (unless they read this column, of course) is the Battle of Marshfield. There's a good reason for this... there was no Battle Of Marshfield.

The non-battleground from this non-battle.

However, history is often drawn by tricks of fate, coincidence, miscalculations and itchy trigger fingers. An itchy trigger finger set off the Boston Massacre, started the Revolution, and was still happening when the National Guard went hippy-hunting at Kent State almost 200 years after the redcoats landed in Boston Harbor. If Marshfield in 1775 had been visited by ol' Mr. Finger, our history lessons would have been very different.

While an apt high school kid could tell you that Boston was occupied by the redcoats before the Revolution, they might not know that Marshfield also bore this status. Marsh Vegas, as it was then not known as, was a Loyalist hotbed. People in Vegas had no problem at all with the crown, at least the ones with the money and influence. They preferred change through diplomacy over revolt.

Even noting the fact that Marshfield patriots in 1773 had their own Marshfield Tea Party (on Tea Rock Hill), Marshfield was the most Loyalist town in New England.

This put them at odds with the neighboring towns. Duxbury and Plymouth were hotbeds of Patriot activity, and you saw with the Dunbar brothers how Halifax handled Loyalists. Not wishing to be mashed in Hog Dung, the loyalists in Marshfield sent a letter to General Gage, who was in charge of Boston. They demanded protection, and Gage complied, sending 100 men and 300 muskets on two schooners (the Dianna and the Britannia) down to Marsh Vegas in 1775. They were under the command of future Parliament member Captain Nesbit Balfour.

These redcoats disembarked at the mouth of the North River and marched 6 miles to the Nathaniel Ray Thomas estate. He was only the second most famous occupant, which is why you know it today as the Daniel Webster House. It looked a bit like a smaller version of the mansion from Django Unchained.

The redcoats set up their barracks on the grounds of the estate, and proceeded to piss off the locals. They would go to taverns or private homes in Duxbury and Plymouth. They behaved well enough, but they would have been hated in Duxbury even if they walked across water to get there. There is at least one story of a mob chasing a British officer into a Plymouth store, and not letting him out until he surrendered (and they broke) his sword.

Naturally, the entertainment in Boston served to get the locals' moxie up. Duxbury had already hosted Stamp Act protests, burned a dozen Englishmen in effigy and kidnapped loyalists for Liberty Pole parties. The presence of 100 redcoats a town over was, as they liked to say then, intolerable.

You didn't see a lot of South Shore people at Lexington. Paul Revere went west, not south. By the time that word of Lexington/Concord got to Duxbury, they would not have had time to get up to Boston for the battle. We did send some men up to Lexington/Concord, but most of the South Shore got off no shots at the redcoats fleeing Concord.

They didn't need to march up into the Metro West area to get at the regulars... they had 100 of them right there on the South Shore, sleeping on the lawn of a Marshfield mansion.

The South Shore towns had militia, and they had been training for this moment. They dropped everything on April 19th and gathered at what is now known as the John Alden House in Duxbury, under the command of  Colonel Theophilus Cotton.

No one knows what went on in the John Alden house that night, nor on the day of the 20th, when a council of war was held. What we do know is that Cotton, of Plymouth, failed to attack. He may have hoped that the British would leave on their own, or he may have feared a rabble-vs-regulars fight, or he may have been waiting for more people.

He got more people quickly enough. Companies arrived from Rochester, Middleboro,  Carver and Plympton to join the Duxbury, Plymouth and Kingston patriots. Fishermen from various local harbors, always fixin' for a fight, threw themselves into the mix. Colonel Cotton soon had five hundred men, five times the number of the British that they wished to oust from Marshfield. Other estimates give him 1000 men.

They marched to within a mile of the British regiment, not without some argument.  The cautious Cotton still refused to attack. A company from Kingston (led by Capt. Peleg Wadsworth), perhaps seeking to atone for their now-unfortunate town name, advanced without orders to within firing range of the British camp. Ish was about to get hectic.

However, there were no British to kill. The British garrison, who would have surrendered if fired upon, had instead run like a scalded dog.

The schooner Hope, along with two smaller sloops (the sloops had been "prest" into service, and were two of the first AmRev prizes taken by the Brisih Navy) arrived at the mouth of the Cut River in Green Harbor. They gathered up the soldiers and whatever Loyalists they could find and fled for Boston. The citizens of Marshfield alerted the British to the arrival of the ships by firing guns from Signal Hill. These were the only shots fired in the Battle Of Marshfield.

Then, the ass-kicking began. The South Shore is interesting, if not unique, in that our violence goes down after the troops leave.

Escape route...

Marshfield had 1200 people at the time, and only a few of them could get on those ships. Everyone else was left to fend for themselves, as the British Army and Navy were busy up in Boston.

Marshfield, a Tory town without the necessary Tory army to keep it safe, exploded in an orgy of assaults, tar-n-featherings, jailings, property confiscation, business boycotts and exile. Whoever could afford a boat ride to Nova Scotia fled. Everyone else stayed, and suffered abuse for it.

"Our fate now decreed, and we are left to mourn out our days in wretchedness. No other resources but to submit to the tyranny of exulting enemies or settle a new country," said Sarah Winslow of Marshfield not too long after the British surrender at Yorktown. Her father said, "I was the butt of the licentious, and had received every species of insult and abuse, which the utmost rancour and malice."

Those who did get away weren't always welcomed back. A ship from Nova Scotia, loaded with returning Marshfield Tories, was refused permission to disembark in the Neponset River by the town of Milton. The Tories eventually were let off at the North River, where they were promptly arrested.

Marshfield, much like someone tied to the Liberty Pole or being made to run a Gauntlet, finally caved in. Three months after the British Army was chased from Brant Rock, a town meeting resulted in Marshfield agreeing to support the Revolution. They sent their men off to fight, just like other towns.

Marshfield, for a long time, had more subdued celebrations of July 4th than neighboring towns did. Some years, they didn't celebrate the holiday at all. This sort of got played out in the 1950s and especially 1970s, as the demographics of the town were wildly altered by urban immigration. The incoming Bostonians loved July 4th, and by the time of my childhood, the Vegas coastline represented as hard as anyone.

Duxbury and the surrounding towns contributed mightily to the cause. Taking the 300 British muskets they found at the Thomas estate, they marched to Boston and joined up with George Washington. Duxbury men were involved in fortifying Dorchester Heights, which forced the British out of Boston. Unlike just about everyone involved in the Siege of Boston, the Duxbury men had already seen the British Navy flee before them once by the time the Limey Poofters sailed away from Boston.

Duxbury men served with George Washington at Valley Forge, and fought with him at Germantown and Monmouth. Washington was known to favor the fishermen of coastal Massachusetts as rowers. Duxbury men also manned a fort built out on the Gurnet. It saw no action in the Revolution, but they got to let off a few shots during the War of 1812.

It is interesting to ponder how the Brits would have reacted if Capt. Wadsworth had decided to charge the overmatched regulars. We know how the immediate battle would have worked, as Captain Balfour told us himself. The Brits would have surrendered with the first Rebel shot.

There's a difference between 100 soldiers and the entire Royal Navy, however. As we saw during the Battle of Wareham in 1812. the British would sail a squadron into town and burn every ship in the harbor for piracy. How wold they react after the loss of a whole garrison, especially if the battle which lost them turned into a massacre? Probably not well.

Duxbury did not embrace shipbuilding until after the Revolution, but they did need their harbor, and had nothing beyond a crude fort to keep the British from sailing in to set the whole town ablaze. Duxbury was a backwater, perhaps not meriting an invasion, but Plymouth was a high-profile revenge target.

Taking Plymouth would effectively cut off Cape Cod and the South Shore from contributing to the war effort, and would have the Brits very well positioned for a march on Rhode Island. The South Shore would have almost certainly got some Grey's Raid kind of action.. Never drink Earl Grey Tea, it's associated with the son of the Grey's Raid captain who attacked Fairhaven, New Bedford and Martha's Vineyard.

The Battle of Marshfield may have indeed proved to be a Phyrric Phirryc Pyrrhic costly victory, and the whole war effort may have been jeopardized by the desire of some Plymouth County farmers to seize a contested Marsh Vegas front yard.

However, all of that never happened. Colonel Cotton, viewed by many as a wussy, was actually a fine leader. He went all Sun-Tzu on the English, not moving to attack until victory was assured. He cleared out one of the two English-occupied towns in Massachusetts, and he did so without wasting an ounce of gunpowder.

Colonel Cotton is actually twice-famous, as he led a group of patriots in 1774 who tried to move Plymouth Rock to a better viewing area. He split the Rock while doing so, and you can still see the split today. That's a story or another day.

So, as you do something 'Murica today to commemorate the Patriot actions in Boston, Lexington and Concord, lay back and twist one in honor of the 500 South Shore bad-asses who chased the British away.

Even the house is crooked... or the photographer.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

November South Coast Fall Foliage

November is pushing it as far as leaf-peeping goes on the South Coast of Masschusetts. You can only really do it if you haven't had a nor'easter to tear the leaf cover down. Most everything is turning brown by now, but foliage works in strange ways, and differences in sun exposure can set trees in the same area off at different times. We'll seek out the good stuff for you.

We'd like to welcome our new shutterbug, Joeyna. She was all over Marion and Rochester for us, at about the same time that I myself was out rolling South Coast Style. Between us, we got enough shots for a decent article. Mine (Stephen) are the blurrier ones. Joeyna, as you can see, has an affinity for shady lanes.

If you see a car stopped in the middle of the road aiming  camera up into the trees, you may have just crossed paths with a Cranberry County Magazine photographer. We walk among you, although we sometimes take the SUV.

If you ever see me in the comments being snarky to someone, understand that Cranberry County Magazine's main office is about three of those farm stand structures put together, and CCM doesn't have those cool orange trees. Never take me seriously, I don't.

I like to think that trees are sentient, and that they view Leaf Drop the same way that a stand-up comic utilizes the Mic Drop. "Hope that you enjoyed the show, people. Come back, same time next year." (leaf drop)

Since I have brain-lock for this pretty cool shot, I'll drop some links to remind you that we have done leaf-peeping articles on mid-October South Shore, late-October South Shore, late October South Coast, early November Cape Cod, an odd plea to line the Cape Cod Canal with fall foliage color trees, and- now, right here- early November South Coast. We may take one more crack at the Cape, it depends on how effectively I will be able to celebrate the passing of the Ballot Question 4 thingy.

A lot of people consider Buzzards Bay to either be the end of the pre-Cape South Coast, or the Cape's mainland buffer zone. It's the South Coast today, because we have a few shots of the Bourne Bridge, shot from the Trowbridge Tavern deck, aiming towards Buzzards Bay. At least one of the CCM camera clickers started their trip from the Trow, and perhaps both.

Motherf***ers be hatin' on the shutterbugs, putting up stone walls and ADT between us and the pretty trees. If you need a barometer to measure the intelligence of the CCM staff by, know that Abdullah thinks that ADT is what the hyper kid in the high school claass has, while Stacey (who is French, and may somehow hear things with that same zuh zuh zuh accent she speaks with) thinks that it's the drug that they give you when you get the AIDS. Either way, dude shoulda let us in his yard to shoot his trees.

Dammmmmmmn..... stuffed at the goal line! It'd be cool of we jacked this guy's gate, went down his driveway, and- instead of a mansion- there was some shabby single-wide trailer home.  Some people throw all their money into the house, other throw it all into the driveway.

My crappy camera in poor light, fired off of the Trowbridge Tavern deck. This is why most of my shots are close-ups, and why I hire the Joeynas of the world.

I need to work on my Level Horizon photography technique, but it's hard to level the camera and steer the car and twist the Game Green and watch out for kids and stuff like that. Also, this guy might, like, uhm, live on a hill or something.
Joeyna is newer to street photography than I am, and doesn't yet know that people just love it when obscure regional website photographers pull the car up onto their lawn so as to cut the power lines out of their Big Yellowsh Tree picture... or she's considerably smarter than me, and is therefore much less likely to get rocked in the lip by some justifiably angry homeowner.

We apologize to this gentleman for not getting to his house before the Leaf Drop, because it looks like he has a pretty cool Fall Foliage setup happening in his yard. We got you marked, player, and we'll be back next October. Bet your bottom dollar.

This is J at work. I went further inland than she did, making it to Halifax and Taunton and New Beddy during my loop. This was a Saturday drive assignment for me, and I was listening to WUMD's 9AM-2PM reggae show on 89.3 FM. The strength of WUMD's broadcast signal sort of guided my vehicle.

I love red trees, even when they grow in yards that are on a brutally sloped hill. You know how it is out in the sticks, dog.

A) Nice farmer's porch, and B) whoever has the upstairs bedroom must be on at least a nodding acquaintance basis with whatever squirrels and birds use that tree. It must be like the old Stephen Wright bit... "Hey, Tweety, how ya doin? I'm just having breakfast... want some eggs? Ooops, my bad."

It's like following the yellow brick road, just upside down.

Either the trip ended back up at the Trowbridge Tavern, or we're throwing a bone to the better photographers reading this article who looked at the first Bourne Bridge shot and said something along the lines of "Zoom in less with that shoddy camera, Stephen!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

South Coast Shellfishing Ban

You might want to skip the clams tonight, player,

The state’s Division of Marine Fisheries has banned the harvesting of shellfish in the west side of Buzzards Bay and in Mount Hope Bay until further notice.

The ban is due to an outbreak of toxic algae. The algae is a form of phytoplankton known as Pseudo Nitzschia. If Pseudo Nitzschia doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger.... and a nihilist.

Pseudo Nitzschia leads to the development of Domoic Acid. Domoic Acid can cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, which gives the person who suffers from it vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and incapacitating headaches followed by confusion, disorientation, permanent loss of short-term memory, and in severe cases, seizures and coma. Other than that.... no probba!

Harvesting or collecting shellfish from the affected areas is now prohibited. Towns with the ban include Bourne, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Gosnold, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Swansea, Wareham and Westport.

I had Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning once, but I forget what happened.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Massachusetts Sharks In Our Archives

Eddie Fairweather be havin' fish or dinner!

We've been very Nature-oriented this summer. This pattern will continue, as several ideas we're kicking around involve oysters, foxes, bluefish, owls, stripers and God knows whatever else walks/swims/flies in front of one of our cameras.

You're going to get all of that soon enough, but today we're going to issue a recap/filler article about our toothiest locals. Great White Sharks own the news around here, even though more people are hurt by schnauzers than sharks in Massachusetts.

This will be our tenth article devoted to sharks, not a bad total at all for a publication in a region with an 100 day swimming season.

Rather than make you wade through our archives for some good ol' fashioned Shark Talk, we're going to give you a list of these articles for you to peruse easily from this very location here.

If you get through all of this and still need more Shark in your life, you should probably just open a wound in your skin and jump into the waters off of Monomoy. We probably have a few Shark articles lurking on Cape Cod TODAY or perhaps even AOL, but this is everything for which we'll get paid if you read it.

Apologies in advance if you see us re-telling a few stories or even telling the same story twice with different details. We have several authors on this site, and occasional short circuits will occur.

What If? A Cape Cod Shark Attack Fatality

I'm very much in Mayor Vaughn's camp on this one, as I feel that a fatal Outer Cape shark attack caught on video would end Cape Cod's status as a vacation destination.

We were actually wrong about this, at least as far as we have been able to prove. Sharks have attacked a couple of people in Truro and also said howdy-do to a couple of kayakers in Plymouth. It seemed to have no negative effect at all on the Cape's tourist flow.

Aim high, fall far.

Historical Massachusetts Shark Attacks

If you want to know your odds, you have to get the stats.

Location is everything in this category, too. Someone who had done no research most likely would not be able to guess where our three shark attack fatalities went down in the Bay State.

We branch out to include Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and New York.

Great White Shark Spotted Off Duxbury Beach

This, and the Plymouth attack, brought it all home to the Irish Riviera that sharks are not solely the problem of Cape Cod. You're more likely to be killed by a shark on the bay side of Cape Cod than you are on the ocean side, and the same goes for the South Coast.

This was a brief article, written the instant I heard the news,and more of a warning to my friends and family who live on that beach. If I go to Thanksgiving and have to sit with a one-legged niece with a very personal Duxbury shark attack story, I will very much need my "Well, you should have checked my site updates" guilt-block.

Best line? "Wow, and I thought that Duxbury didn't get Cape traffic."

Ol' Toothy, The Kayak Eating Shark Of The Irish Riviera

We discuss a theory of ours, focusing on the possibility that Cape Cod Bay only had one shark. That's why we named him. We had some theory that he was a rogue, who split away from his posse off Chatham for some reason that probably makes perfectly good sense to a shark.

This theory, like many of my theories, was wildly off-base. Shark tagging and receiver buoys proved me wrong pretty much right away.

I'm pretty sure that this article at one point also included a Stacey-conducted interview with the shark who dumped those two girls out of the kayak off Manomet. We may have had to remove the interview, as the shark's frank talk on race (he prefers white meat) and age (he steals a Mark Leyner joke about brittle-boned/osteoperosis-having old people being crunchier to the shark) would have been  upsetting to a greater portion of our readership.

Best line? "I'm assuming that the shark was male. Boats are girls, Sharks are boys. That's how I roll."

How To Not Get Eaten By A Shark

This is important stuff to know if you plan to go into the water. In short, if it is at all possible to be attacked by a shark, there must exist steps which will lower those odds.

Some advice ("Don't swim where people are fishing") makes sense. Other advice ("Do nothing at all seal-like") we play off as a joke when the advice is actually sound. One ("Swim with people fatter than you") sounds like a joke but was not denied when I approached a nationally-known shark expert for his thoughts about my theory. Yet another ("Be local" ) is true factually, but true in a category with a body of evidence small enough to magnify coincidence.

"Follow these rules, and you'll have mad bread to break up. If not, 17 feet on the wake-up."

Sharks In Cape Cod Bay

Speaking of shark experts, we went to Duxbury  to attend a lecture by shark expert Dr.Gregory Skomal. He's the guy you see on te news, tagging sharks.

We got to ask him all of our stupid questions ("Have you ever met a friendly, seems-to-enjoy-hanging-with-people Great White Sharks?" and "Can you make a Great White Shark do tricks?"), and we got to hear more serous people ask more serious questions.

I'm pretty sure that I'm the only journalist on Earth to ask a shark expert, at length, to weigh in on Dr. Hooper's territoriality theory from Jaws. It turns out that true Territoriality involves one shark claiming an area and driving off other sharks, something which isn't happening around here.

Written during a blizzard, I might add.

Where Exactly Do Our Great White Sharks Hang Out?

Dr. Skomal's efforts do give us some amazingly valuable information. We know where they go in the winter, and we also know where they go when they are up here.

This article tells us where sharks were registered as having swam to. It also tells you how many (tagged) sharks are working any particular stretch of coast.

This is another wake-up call for the South Shore and even the North Shore. Sharks show up from Cape Ann to Cape Cod.

Cape Cod holds the title, no doubt. While Plymouth, Scituate and Duxbury combined for 200 shark tag signals, Chatham had over 14,000 in that same period. Granted, Dr. Skomal spends his days tagging off of Chatham and may never have set foot on the South Shore, 14,000 to 200 is a pretty wide gap.

Can Orcas Chase Our Sharks Away?

This was actually our last article. If you're reading this, you most likely read that. It involves yet another theory of mine.

I still think that a robotic Orca could be employed by Outer Cape towns to drive away the sharks. even if it didn't, there must be some cool use for a 40 foot mechanical Killer Whale.

Deep-Sea Surfcasting Methods

I think that this article, concerning inventions we're working on to allow even novice fishermen to make casts out to sea that would fly completely over small towns if they casted towards land, gets into shark-fishing at some point.

Our best idea involves hooking a shark with a chain that is attached to a Jeep. Dr. Skomal somehow was able to avoid my question about a huge shark taking on a Jeep in a tug-o-war.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cheapest And Most Expensive Gas By Town: South Coast Edition

Gas used to cost a dollar a gallon, but that was a couple of two-term Presidents ago.

There's not much we here at CCM can do about that. Heck, there's not much that BArry and George Dubya could do about it, either. Both of the last two Presidents made their run at the $4 mark, and while Bush has the overall Highest Price Ever title, Barry has never had gas as low as Bush saw it (either before 9/11 or after the economy collapsed on him in 2008-2009). Elephant or Donkey, the Oil Man s gonna get ya eventually.

Of course, how badly the Oil an gets you is directly influenced by how hard you shop. If you cn save a dime a gallon and you fill the tank once a week, you save a buck or so (math skills, and brains in general, are not my forte). With 52 weeks a year, that's like $50 or something. Inflict that sort of savings on several areas of your life, and you can go to the Patrots game, trick out your car, hire a high-end prostitute... the world is your oyster, player.

What we can do towards that end is use a certain website to find the gas prices reported for your town in the last 36 hours. You can go to that site yourself (we recommend that you do), but we've done the legwork for you this fine Tuesday morning.

The national average for a gallon of regular Unleaded is $2.29, and the Massachusetts average is $2.18. A barrel of oil is going for $46.55, if you know any Saudis.

The cheapest gas in Massachusetts is $1.89 in Southbridge, the cheapest in EMass is $1.92 in Brockton, and the most expensive is $3.49, by a station owner who should be whipped in Newton's town square.


Low = $2.13, Maxi Gas, Cranberry Highway
High = $2.19, Mobil, Cranberry Highway

$2.17, Cumberland Farms (sole listing for town)

$2.25, Mobil, County Rd

Rochester, Acushnet, Freetown, Berkley, Dighton
(no listings)

Low = $2.03. Valero, Bridge St
High = $2.30, Manny's Service Station

Fall River
Low = $1.94, Sam's Club, Grinnell St
High = $2.49, Tony's Gas And Repair, Brightman St

New Bedford
Low = $2.05, Joe's Gas, Nash Rd
High = $2.39, 7-11, Rockdale Ave

$2.09, Joe's Gas, Taunton Street (sole listing)

Low = $1.99, BJ's, State Road
High, $2.39, Shell, State Road

Low = $1.99, Supreme Gas, State Rd
High = $2.39, Pine Hill Gas, Pine Hill Road

Low = $2.13, Speedway, County St
High = $2.39, Shell, Wilbur Ave

Low = $2.11, Sunoco, Wilbur Ave
High = $2.19, Columbus Energies, GAR Highway

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mattapoisett Hurricane Primer: Inundation And Evacuation

Note the "Mattepoisett" spelling...

Hurricane season is upon us, and we are nearing the peak of it.

Now, we're in Massachusetts, and we haven't been hit dead-on by a hurricane since the 1990s. That means that we don't get them often, and it means that we are long overdue.

They aren't a frequent enough event that you should walk around wringing your hands or anything. However, there are certain things that a wise person might do which can actually eliminate a lot of the hand-wringing.

Ironically, the first step to a peaceful mind is to view some Disaster Porn!

We have two maps for you to look at, and they are specific to your town. One is for Inundation, and the other is for Evacuation. They pertain to a direct-hit hurricane hitting your town at mean high tide.

"Inundation" means "covered in water," although you can call it a Deathflood or a Sea Plague if that gets your people motivated. It refers to which areas in town will be covered with seawater (important distinction, these maps do NOT project freshwater flooding) if you play host to a hurricane.

The map for Inundation (the top one) is color-coded, with light green, dark green, yellow and red. Those colors equate to which areas will get wet in what kind of storm, i.e. Category 1, 2, 3 and 4. Where you see colors changing on the map, that's where the experts think it will require a greater storm to flood that area in seawater.

The map for Evacuation (right) is less complicated. If you look at the Inundation map for a moment and then look at the Evacuation map, the logic will eventually make sense. The red areas of the map essentially say "Those People Have To Leave," and the yellow areas say "You Have To Leave, Too."

See how you compare to your neighboring towns with the complete list of Inundation maps and Evacuation maps.

Remember, storm surge is not the only threat from a hurricane. Things like falling branches, freshwater flooding, lightning, flying debris, slick roads, tornadoes, downed power lines, looters and a thousand other variables can mess you up plenty when the barometer drops heavy.

Mattapoisett's status as a hurricane target depends on a battle between the barrier effect provided by Falmouth and The Islands and the funnel effect that Buzzards Bay has on storm surge being pushed ahead of a big hurricane.

As we say in all of these storm articles we write, Buzzards Bay provides a similar effect on cyclones to what you see happen in Bangladesh. Water goes into the big end and the narrowing of the bay leaves the water with nowhere to go but Forward and Higher.

There is a saying that civilization stops at the waterline, and that we all enter the food chain after that... but not always at the top. Mattapoisett has taken shots from the sea on several occasions, be it shark attack (1930s) or monster storms in 1938, 1944, 1954 and 1991. You can see the post-Bob ruins of Master P in one of these fine videos collected by my main man at West Island Weather.

Aside from the torn-apart-coastline shots you see with every storm, Matty P also offers a unique chance for the ocean to shut down not one but two major highways. Estimates vary, but even a Category 3 storm (granted, which would be among the worst in the state's White Guy history) would run a strong chance of making both Route 6 and Route 195 impassable in the Mattapoisett River area. Aucoot Cove flooding of a high order could also send ocean water across Route 6.

Aside from coves and river mouths, Matta P also gets flooding along her immediate coastline. It's not the place you want to be if a storm hits. As you might imagine, Matty has an extensive area which would merit evacuation in even a moderate hurricane. Places along the Mattapoisett River would be evacuated up to 195 in a minimal hurricane, and a slobberknocker of a storm woud push evacuations due to ocean water flooding miles past 195.

A hurricane in Mattapoisett ain't to be played with. Anyone who lives there, or even anyone who plans to visit, should be aware of which areas are prone to flooding and which areas will need to be evacuated.

We want you alive for monetary reasons, as we live off your site visits. We want you alive for professional pride reasons, i.e. "If they listened to me, they lived." We also want you alive for regular, nice-people reasons. Like the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared."

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Shark Week: Historical Massachusetts Shark Attacks

Duxbury Beach, MA, courtesy of MSP

Shark attack.

It's not anything that a rational person worries about. There are some well-worn statistical trends that put it in context, the ones where you are less likely to be eaten by a shark than you are to be hit by lightning, run over by a snowplow, shot mistakenly by a Crip and so forth.

There have been 1974 shark attacks in American waters since 1900. Less than 10% (160) have been fatal. I know this because I am reading the Shark Attack Database, and you aren't... OK, I'll share the link, stop hatin.'

You are twice as likely to be killed by Al Qaeda than you are by a shark. Adam Lanza has killed more people this century than sharks have. Humans aren't a primary or even secondary food source (we're not meaty enough, and our bones make us tough to swallow... sharks aren't built to eat us, although we pass in a pinch) for a shark, and any attack on a human is most likely a mistake.

It does happen, however. It happens right here in Massachusetts. OK, offshore a bit, but in our territorial waters. We're here today to tell you about the times when sharks killed people in our general area.

caught off Duxbury, MA, 1938
I do lack complete information on how many shark attacks there have been in Massachusetts history. I have some good excuses.

One, the Native Americans no doubt lost a few tribesman to the White Death, but their records don't end up in the Google search results a lot. The white man's time running Massachusetts is just a blip on the map when compared to the time it was owned by the Other Man, we'd be like a minute in the day on that clock. There are probably old trees who still think of Plymouth as Wampanoag territory.

The natives did a lot of paddling in the local waters, and I have no doubts that a few of them got a Chomping for it. I can find no records of it, however. There are records of shark attacks in Spanish New World histories, usually on pearl divers. Natives had pollution-free rivers teeming with fish, and didn't need to take to the seas like Europeans did... but they did get dined upon. Those numbers probably build up to impressive totals after a few thousand years.

Another reason my totals are incomplete is because, while fatal shark attacks are always big news, minor ones are not. In the CNN era, every shark attack is national news in a few hours. Back when some 1700s fisherman got maimed off the Gloucester coast, it remained an isolated event. Even if it is big news at the time, it may not enter into historical record.

The mention of fishermen also brings about the question of how far offshore a shark attack can occur and still be counted as Massachusetts. At least one that I will be counting happened several miles offshore. No, your great uncle from Worcester who was on the Indianapolis doesn't count.

A flaw in the numbers (that I'm aware of, there may be more) is that shark attacks are not always framed like Speilbreg movies. Many are simple bites, in cloudy water, at night, by a fish that is gone before you can look. It could be a shark, but it could also be a bluefish, a striper or a score of other fish. That was falsely rumored to have happened on Cape Cod or Dartmouth within the last decade or so, and I don't think there ever was 100% agreement on what bit the guy.

That brings up another dark question. People go to sea and vanish now and then. Can we assume that every shipwreck victim drowned or died of hypothermia? Maybe some of them became meals. How often do you see a case of someone disappearing in the water, someone who was said to be a strong swimmer? Sometimes they just had heart attacks while swimming, but sometimes they didn't...

Here are a few stories we can be more certain about, stories where someone local had to pay the Swimmer's Debt. As Hunter Thompson once said, "Civilization ends at the waterline. After that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top."

A police helicopter searches for the kayak-eating shark off Plymouth, MA


Yes, all shark attack histories of Massachusetts start in New York. We'll also get to New Jersey before this article is over, and maybe North Carolina.

New York and Massachusetts can be far apart culturally, especially when the baseball teams play. That means very little to a fish, however. It's merely a day's swim from Long Island to Cape Cod, and all of you people taste the same anyhow.

In 1642, while the rotten apple was still Dutch, word of an English expedition spread to Peter Stuyvesant. Peter ordered his trumpeter, Anthony Van Corlaer, to roust the sleeping villagers. He went down the bank of the East River like Paul Revere, waking the settlers. Upon reaching the northern tip of Manhattan, he decided to swim across to the Bronx.

It was a stormy night, and people urged him to reconsider. Ant was having none of that, however. He then spoke the worst sentence of his soon-to-be-over life, vowing to get to the Bronx to spite the Devil.

You don't get to be the Devil by letting people talk sh*t about you like that, and the Prince of Darkness, if you will pardon the pun, took the bait... the bait being Van Corlaer. Witnesses report seeing "the devil appear in the form of a giant fish," chomp down on the mouthy trumpeter, and pull him beneath the waves.

Another version of the story has Ant letting off a blast from his trumpet as the leviathan grabs him. The blast scares the fish away, but Ant succumbs to blood loss, exhaustion, hypothermia or some combination of the three.

Other versions have him drowning, but those are no fun.

The inlet is now called Spuyten Duyvil... Dutch for "Spouting Devil."

It may have been a Great White, but the East River location also speaks strongly of the possibility of the perp being a Bull Shark. Bull Sharks like rivers, and can make a pretty good claim for the New Jersey attacks that inspired Jaws.

The attack is notable for two reasons. First, it puts a firm dividing line down between Native American and European shark attack histories. Attacks in America enter into the historical record from this point.

More importantly, it proved that American sharks like white meat... and white meat was going to be on the menu in America from now on.

Mashnee Neck, MA


The Shattuck family is well-known in Boston, and they got really well-known in 1730 or so (the exact date is touchy, but the victim had a a kid born in February of 1731) to the point where they still get press today.

The Shattucks had a lovely young daughter, Rebecca. Her charms proved to be too much for a London businessman- Alexander Sampson- to resist. In town for a business visit, he became a resident after meeting the fetching Miss Shattuck. Marriage and children followed.... he cranked 3 kids out of her before she was 20.

Life was good until he took a pleasurable excursion by boat on Boston Harbor. He then went in Boston Harbor when a giant shark swamped his boat. Mr. Sampson couldn't get out of the water, and was devoured. "Ye greate Fish doth fochked up Mr. Sampson," or something like that.

Great Whites have some history of attacking smaller boats with the intent of knocking the people out of them. Boston is within the natural range of the Great White. New England's two alphas had met on the battlefield, and the one with the legs and and hat ended up as lunch.

It was at this point that scientists began to speculate that sharks were somehow offended by fishing. OK, I just made that up.


This one is almost Massachusetts, as Bristol Harbor is just across Mount Hope Bay from Fall River.

A boy swimming off a fishing vessel was snared by a large shark, which took him underwater and vanished before rescuers could arrive.

When the boy's body was found a few days later, it was armless, legless and lifeless. This was 1816, if you're keeping score at home.

I have read about this and a Connecticut attack, and the Connecticut attack may have been someone mistaking this one for the Nutmeg State. Connecticut has had 9 shark attacks in her history, none fatal.

A reason that I feel this case and the CT one are the same is that both cases involved a black child swimming in from a fishing boat. Sharks like people of all colors... although they only take the wings from black people, at least in New England.

Duxbury Beach, MA


Scituate (pronounced sort of like "sit chew it", but not really) has a deservedly fine reputation as a and perhaps the coastliest town in Massachusetts, at least south of Gloucester.

They have fishing, shipbuilding, beachcombing, clamming, surfing and anything else you need to be nautical. They are the go-to town for local news camera crews seeking nor'easter damage shots. Two Scituate schoolgirls chased off a storm of mercenary Brits with a drum and a fife once in 1812, in case you think people are p*ssy down there or anything.

The sea meets the land in a hard way in Scituate, but the action we speak of today went down 5 miles offshore in 1830. This attack is mistakenly called the Swampscott attack now and then, as the ship in question (the Finback) set sail from Swampscott. This is also mistakenly cited for a shark attack 20 miles south of Lynn (by an 1897 account in a Wisconsin newspaper) in some shark attack databases.

Five miles off of Scituate, a guy who was 99.9999% done using the name Joseph Blaney took a small dory away from the Finback to do some small-scale solo fishing. Shortly after, he was seen waving his hat in distress. He appeared to have an injured arm. Help was sent, but before it could arrive, a giant shark was seen lying amidships across his dory. Blaney survived the first attack with an injured arm, but the whole boat was then taken under in a second attack. The boat came back up in a foam, but all of Mr. Blaney that came up was his hat.

These were, as the page I'm stealing this from said, times of wooden ships and iron men, so- naturally- the brother of the victim rounded up a sea posse, returned to Scituate, and hunted down the fish in question. Just to be sure, they caught two Great Whites, including a 16 footer that was too heavy for them to hoist on board.

They dragged the smaller one back to Swampscott, where they let the Blaney widow slap it. It was then taken to Boston, where you and a friend could view it for a quarter until the carcass was dumped back in the sea. In a mistake common at the time, the shark (like any other large shark seen at the surface) was called a Basking Shark.

If you tweak a few details and mix in the New Jersey attacks of 1916, you basically have the complete plot of Jaws. I have a few questions about that I'd like to ask that Peter Benchley fellow... what's that? He's dead? Never mind.

Duxbury Beach, MA


You knew Rhodey was getting back in the mix at some point. Are Eye has had 7 shark attacks, with two fatalities. The non fatal attacks range in severity from "lacerations on thighs and feet" to "overalls torn." Providence, Coddington Cove, Patuxent, Port Judith and Parts Unknown hosted the other minor attacks.

Blood spills in Rhodey, though. In what will prove to be a repeatedly bad decision throughout this article, two guys took a small dory and put a little space between themselves and the larger fishing vessel they were occupying in 1895. One of them- Charles Beattie- then multiplied the risk by going swimming off of the small dory. He came up in distress.

His friend threw him an oar and jumped in to save him. Remember, this was before Jaws (before movies, even), and people didn't instinctively fear sharks. A very literate man at the time may have thought Moby Dick had arrived. The rescuer lost a tug o' war with a human rope to the shark, who pulled Beattie under and got to snackin'.

The shark was never actually seen, but sharks had been captured in the area prior to the attack, and you have to call a duck a duck once it quacks enough.

Weekapaug was known as Noyes Point (a Mr. Noyes was a prominent Rhodey Resident at the time) for much of her pre-20th Century history, and the account often is found listed as going down at "Noyes Point."

Weekapaug is also the source of a Phish song, and the town is referenced on Family Guy now and then.


Maine and New Hampshire have not, according to the Shark Attack Database, had a shark attack in their histories. This includes non-fatalities.

Although both states have cold Atlantic water suitable for Great Whites, they have been safe so far. Cape Cod serves as a barrier beach for them, to a certain degree.

Keep in mind that New Hampshire has like 10 miles of coast, and Maine is inhabited by hardcore lobstermen (and women) who probably don't call a scientist when a shark bites them on the hand. They fix that ish themselves, most likely with random stuff from the boat and sea dog savvy.

Mattapoisett, MA (I went in the winter, sorry for the snow)

This sleepy little town on Buzzards Bay got hit up with a nasty attack in 1936. This attack is often ascribed to Buzzards Bay, which is correct in a body-of-water sense but not in a name-of-town sense. The village of Buzzards Bay is actually on the other side of Wareham from Mattapoisett, but that matters very little to a shark.

The Mattapoisett maiming is, to my knowledge, the most recent fatal shark attack north of Carolina. It took a Dorchester kid who had no idea what shark attacks were and made a historical footnote out of him.

It's good to be famous, generally... unless you're famous for being in the Shark Attack Database. That's bad.

Joseph Troy was swimming out to meet a boat that was off of Holly Wood Beach in Mattapoisett with a friend. Troy was seized by the leg and pulled below. He resurfaced momentarily, unconscious and mortally wounded. He was brought to shore, and sent to a New Bedford hospital. He died during surgery.

Swimming had only enjoyed widespread popularity for a half century or so before Troy was attacked, and that all came to a halt for a while once the details of Troy's attack became known. A chunk of meat "the size of a five pound roast beef" had been torn from his thigh. Troy regained consciousness long enough to let the doctor know that the scariest part was being dragged down into the sea, away from the sun.

This sort of closed the books on shark attacks in Massachusetts for a while.

These stories make me nervous, because the last two fatal shark attacks in Massachusetts went down a bit north of my old house and a bit west of my current one. It's like the damned things are triangulating me.

Holly Wood Beach, Mattapoisett, MA


Massachusetts, and New England in general, had a lull in shark activity after the Mattaposett mauling. Seals had long been an enemy of the local fishermen, and bounties drove down their numbers wildly. With the food source gone, the shark activity lessened in our waters.

The seals have been coming back recently, as it is now illegal to shoot one if anyone official is looking. With the seals come the sharks, and- lo and behold- people are swimming in record numbers this time around. There's a very real chance that Troy was the first human the shark who killed him ever saw. That won't be the case now.

Massachusetts has had several high-notoriety shark attacks recently. We've had 10 shark attacks in our history, and one- 40 miles south of Nantucket- almost doesn't count. A trio have been fatal, and we have already discussed them. The other six went down off Nahant (1922), Rockport (1965), Truro (1996), Chatham (2001, about when the seals started coming back), Truro II (2012) and Manomet (2014). No fatalities went down in these attacks.

Nahant involved a pack of sharks damaging the stern of a boat. A four-foot shark attacked the Rockport victim while he was scuba diving, and he was bitten on the leg. The first Truro attack victim was ridiculed for his report, with locals telling him he was bitten by a bluefish. History vindicated the victim, and the database lists his attacker as a 6 foot Great White. The Chatham attack involved a 14 foot Mako slamming into a fishing boat, no injuries.
Duxbury Beach, MA, courtesy of Sara Flynn

Another fish bite wound- off a Dartmouth beach- may have been a shark, but it doesn't make the database. It could have been a seal, a bluefish... only one God and one fish know for shore sure, and neither of them are talking.

The second Truro attack involved a Great White sampling the legs of a boogie boarder. People stopped laughing at the 1996 guy right about here. This was the first confirmed attack of the modern Seal era, and a taste of things to come.

The Manomet attack involved a Great White (almost certainly the one seen swimming off of my old Duxbury Beach house a week earlier) knocking two women out of a kayak. The girls had been checking out seals up close, a very bad idea these days. They escaped with a scare, although the kayak had a bite taken out of it.

However, any modern shark attack- even one where nobody was harmed- will surpass the fatal ones of bygone eras in impact. A well-shot video of an attack on a Cape Cod beach would get like 10 billion views, and might fatally wound tourism as an industry on Cape Cod. "We dare you to swim in our shark-infested waters" is hardly a good ad campaign title.

The seals- and the sharks- aren't going anywhere. Experts like Dr. Gregory Skomal fully expect them to diffuse into Cape Cod Bay as the seal population expands. This will put big Porkers off of Duxbury, Plymouth, Bourne, Marsh Vegas, Kingston, Sandwich, Barnstable, Hingham, Scituate, Cohasset, Hull, Quincy, Weymouth and even Boston.

Every town I listed is a popular beach locale, fully stocked with swimming humans. We're very much due for another fatal attack, if you crunch the numbers the right way. Take solace in the numbers, do nothing at all seal-like, and stay alive long enough to read the Shark Week articles we'll be dropping later in the week.

Bon Appetit!

Duxbury, MA, courtesy of the Massachusetts State Police