Late summer, September 2013
“Come on let’s go! Go! Go! What a groovy show! Come on and go! Go! Go! It’s Cousin Brucie! And here’s an oldie for ya, cousins! Tyrone Davis singing ‘If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time!’””
“Time,” I say. “Time, time, time?”
Sissy claps. “I got this! ‘Time Has Come Today’!” She yells out the title of an old 1967 Chambers Brothers tune. She’s playing our radio game.
“No,” I shake my head. “Not a song. I was gonna tell you something I just remembered.” Something is tapping on the door of my brain but the doorman is apparently on break. I can’t quite hear it.
“Time keeps ticking away? Time has come today? Come on, I must be close!” Sissy keeps guessing.
Sissy and I are cruisin’ the tiny town of Scituate Massachusetts in a rental car while blaring the hits of the 1960′s as provided to us by legendary disco jockey Cousin Brucie. I never miss his show if I can help it. How I love satellite radio! The ability to transport back to the comforting days of summers by the sea without interruptions of present day.
Every summer I rent a cottage on the Point, the sliver of land that juts defiantly out into the harbor and boasts the two hundred year old Scituate Lighthouse. The lighthouse and two teenage girls who once resided in it played an important part in the War of 1812. The girls, Rebecca and Abigail, spotted a British warship slipping into the harbor and began to play the fife and drum as if the American militia was on to the Brits. The warship departed and that’s one of Scituate’s claims to fame.
The other is that Scituate is known as the Irish Rivera. Year-round residents as well as we “summer people” are proud of that. Why are we so proud? No one really knows but, “Because we’re Irish, damn it! That’s why! Keep it up with the questions and you’ll be sorry!” is a popular theory.
It is, as I have said, the scene of our childhood crimes and triumphs and every year we go on a pilgrimage to return to the smell of salt and seaweed and freedom. Mom hasn’t flown since 2001 and so we take this journey without parental supervision. Much like we did in the 60′s. But unlike the decade of the Summer Of Love, we call and tell her everything that happens. We never try and rent our rebuilt former home on the Point although it is occasionally available. We just get as close to it as we can without actually sleeping in our old bedrooms. Even for the Irish, some things are just too painful.
Sissy and I are safe in the car and in search of fried clams. This after just having run screaming from the Egypt Country Store, also known as “The Postie” due to the fact that back in the fifties, it was a post office as well as a candy store. It is also called “Little Egypt’s” by snickering old guys who still remember the old Coasters song of the same name about the famous belly dancer.
“She did a triple somersault and when she hit the ground, she winked at the audience and then she turned around. She had a picture of a cowboy tattooed on her spine, sayin’ Phoenix Arizona 1949!”
There is nothing wrong with the Egypt Country Store. It is a delightful little hundred-year-old New England building. Because everything in New England is at least a century old. Even Fenway Park. Poppy always assured us this was the way things were supposed to be.
“What? You don’t like old things? Whattya gonna do with ME when I’m a hunnert? Toss me in the ocean? Nice, kid. Real nice. Now run down the cornah and get me a cigah and learn some history!”
He actually did end up being tossed in the ocean so I wonder if that was his Bad Thing swimming toward him or just the craving for a cheap cigar.
As I said, there is nothing wrong with the Egypt Country Store. The store has a wonderful menu of delicious hot and cold fare – from burgers to veggie sandwiches and homemade lemon and limeade. The candy is all of the sweets we still love. Good ‘N Plenty, rows of candy buttons stuck on that thin paper, salt water taffy and fresh fudge. They sell Scituate shirts and caps and a full array of local gifts.
The store also has a life-sized pirate statue, a six foot St. Nicholas and an authentic gilded sarcophagus watching over the premises. It’s a great local spot to go where locals go.
Except for this night. The summer sun was plummeting from the darkening cloudy sky and the chilly Cape wind was picking up. St. Nick seemed to be sneering at us as we paid for our purchases. A creaking noise. Was that sarcophagus opening just a crack? Sissy and I exchanged glances and sprinted out the door as the shopkeeper waved.
“We’ve got a gun! But we don’t have any bullets!” we laughed as we ran. No one is ever prepared in Scituate. Even the best prepper in the world falls astray when wrapped in the comforting embrace of the Irish Riviera.
I’m in the same rental cottage as every summer with my friend Rosie Bernhard. Rosie and her husband Chick have become part of our extended family. I met them while working in the movies. They both perform stunts for a living and my niece Baby J, also a stuntwoman, calls them her “real parents.” Probably because we are not known for our athletic prowess in my tribe.
Chick was off on a film, Sissy was working in Boston and not due down until the next day so Rosie and I planned a cool summer night listening to the waves at the seawall and scaring each other while watching George Romeo’s 1968 black and white classic “Night Of The Living Dead.”
Popcorn on the table, sodas at the ready, we snuggled into our chairs as the movie started.
Right about the time that cinematic siblings Johnny and Barbra are leaving the graveyard, they see a man lurching toward them. Johnny jokingly calls out the iconic line, “They’re coming to get YOU, BARRRBBBBBBRA!”
And every single light on the Scituate Point goes dead. No power, no street lights, no moonlight, nothing. Just the threatening dead dark of Stephen King’s New England and your rational mind faints while your brain shrieks, “They’re coming to get YOU, BARRRBBBBBBRA!”
I scream. Rosie screams. We can’t find our cell phones in the pitch black. We are sure there has been a terrorist attack somewhere. I run toward the house phone, tripping over bowls of popcorn.
“Wait, wait!” Rosie hollers. “IvegottagunIvegotmyGUN!”
What did she say? Oh her gun! Rosie is also from Massachusetts. “Newton, the rough pahht!” Like all of us, her words run together when she gets what Nana called “all whipped up.”
“I’ve got my GUN!”
Oh thank God, I think. We can hold them off – the terrorists or zombies surely coming up the street.
“OH NO, I DON’T HAVE ANY BULLETS!”
WHAT? Rosie had safely separated the bullets from her licensed firearm while visiting relatives with young children. I suspect that this is a lie. Insisting I should have a working knowledge of firearms, Chick once hauled a protesting me to my one and only visit to the gun range. “You don’t have to own a gun but everyone should have some knowledge of how they work.” After I nearly shot him he said, “If anything ever happens that you need a gun, just call me. I’ll come right over.” I’m not a gun girl and I am sure that is why Rosie’s bullets are stored elsewhere.
“You don’t have any bullets?” I scream back at Rosie.
She gives me the standard Boston answer. “Ya. No.” Translation = “You are correct. I am no longer in possession of any ammunition.”
I finally find the house phone and frantically dial Simi.
“Turn on the news! Has there been a terrorist attack? There’s no light anywhere on the Point!”
Simi sighs. “Is that Rosie screaming in the background?”
“Are you guys watching scary movies?” Simi asks patiently.
“Uh……ya….but the lights…”
“Well,” Simi says, “I am watching TV in Miami. There has been no terrorist attack in any place other than Scituate and if there had been one there, I’d know. The power probably went out.”
Oh. Then we see a flashlight bobbing outside, coming toward us.
“I have to GO!” I yell into the phone. “I think the Army is here!”
“Hmm. Okee dokee. I’ll talk to you later,” Simi says as she hangs up.
It wasn’t the Army. It was just the landlord from across the street coming by to remind us about the notice she left on our fridge. The one that said the city would be running a power test this evening and everything would go dark for thirty minutes.
“Geez, you guys look like you need a drink!” She holds up a plastic grocery bag full of airline nips – tiny booze bottles. She yells across the street for her husband to join us. The power eventually comes back on but the Irish house party expands and doesn’t shut down until 4am. “Yeah I’m from Scituate,” our landlord proclaims as she raises a nip and toasts us, “but I’m also prepared!”
Late summer, September 2013
Sissy and I barrel away from the candy store. Cousin Brucie is still spinning our oldies.
“OK, cousins. Here’s a Sputnik classic not to be missed! I’m gonna play ya a snippet of Vladimir Putin singing that old’ Fats Domino classic ‘Blueberry Hill!’”
I slam a hand on the steering wheel. “Sputnik!
“Pussy Riot?” Sissy asks tentatively. “Not really oldies but..”
“NO! Capsule! Sputnik. Space capsule. Time. Time capsule!”
Sissy’s eyes widen. “We never…”
“…opened the Time Capsule!” I finish as the brain doorman finally swings the vault open. “I know where it is!”
And all of a sudden, I did. It was in a small wooden box under my son’s baby shoes. It was as if the doorman texted me a picture.
Sissy grabbed her phone. “Let’s call Mom! We can open it at Thanksgiving!”
Wouldn’t that have been great?