Monday, May 22, 2023

Something New is Coming!



This is our house. 

This 1890 historical home sits on two plus acres and is surrounded by woods on three sides. It was the inspiration for my first novel, 

The Old Cape House

And now, it is the inspiration, once again, for my fifth novel in 

The Old Cape Series  

I wanted to share some thoughts about 

"The Old Cape Map"

When we first moved in, thirty five years ago, on our western side, was a large empty parcel. There were wild flowers in the spring like aconite and snow drops that covered the forest floor. On occasion, I admit, I shouldn't have crossed the property line but couldn't resist transplanting some of the flowers to our yard, thinking someone was going to clear cut and build. I wanted to save as much as I could.


I love my yellow aconite. 


In my fictional novel, The Old Cape Map, Nancy Caldwell is visited by her two nieces from Ohio. 


Here's a drone view of the Caldwell property in my fictional world.

The Caldwell Gallery is on the right.  The story is all about the land between the Caldwell Gallery and a curmudgeon neighbor, Mrs. McPhee on the left.


Here's the view in present day.

As you can see, my stories are always inspired by what I see around me. Once I get an idea in my head, I begin to weave my characters around historical facts and the scenario of, it could happen.

The second location that is woven through the story is Millbury, MA.
 Why did I choose Millbury MA? My youngest daughter lives in Millbury with her husband on Burbank Street. On the top left is the old Mayo Woolen Mill and you can see Burbank street as it winds and climbs to all the many houses along the road.

My novels are written using dueling storylines and timelines.

The Old Cape Map begins in present day Cape Cod with Nancy Caldwell and one of her nieces finding clues.  In the following chapters you'll travel back to 1900 and meet the characters connected with the found items. As chapters unfold, two stories develop across different time periods in an adventure filled with suspense, history, and treasure.
Coming Soon - late summer 2023
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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Christmas 1946 and Perry Como

 Traditions are important. They remind you of where you came from and oftentimes make you happy or sad, depending on you.

I'm fortunate that my family traditions were always memorable and now bring a smile to my face and heart whenever they drift into my memory.

 My husband Tim also experienced wonderful years as he grew. This Victor Victrola came from his grandparents farm back in Ohio.  Before the farm was sold, the Victrola was found in the barn and brought to his Mother's house. As a child, Tim and his siblings played with it in their garage and put on musicals to the delight of his parents and neighbors. Years went by and Tim eventually brought it to our house. He cleaned and repaired it, eventually entertaining our own children. Since then we have been fortunate to keep it with us and care for it, even when we moved to Cape Cod.


My parents loved listening to Perry Como when I was growing up. So, I was delighted when we found this Victor RCA 78rpm record album set by Perry Como among his mother's things when she settled into our home on Cape Cod.

We listen to the songs every Christmas.

Some fun facts

The Victor Victrola company produced external horn Victors  between 1901-1920. 


Internal horn Victors were manufactured between 1906 - 1929

Struna Family's Victor Victrola

The serial number tells the Victor's story.

It was manufactured in 1916 and designated with a 'G' denoting the addition of feet on the bottom of the cabinet.

Here's hoping you have lovely memories of your family Christmas traditions!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Who was Saint Nicholas?

When I was a little girl, on the eve of December 6, my mother would always tell the family to put their shoes in front of the fireplace. If we'd been behaving, there would be an orange and some candy the next morning. If not, we'd receive a piece of coal or maybe nothing...but that never happened. Mom said these gifts came from Saint Nicholas. It was a test, to see if we needed to improve by the time Christmas morning came. I guess it was similar to the current 'elf on a shelf' craze.

Here's an image of Saint Nicholas. Notice the oranges and his red/green robe. Look familiar?

Here's what I found in my research.

Saint Nicholas died on December 6, 343 C.E. He came from a wealthy family, always giving away his money to the poor. He soon became a priest. After his parents died, he used his inheritance to help even more people but only traveled in the night, in secret. By the time he was made the Bishop of Myra, in the city of Denre in present day Turkey, his good deeds and saintly work had spread far and wide.

As centuries came and went, his reputation became almost mythical. Over 400 churches in the Middle Ages were dedicated in his honor. Because of his gift giving and evidence of miracles, people began celebrating and giving gifts to each other on his feast day.
Martin Luther, in the early 1500s, replaced the name Nicholas with Christ Child, or in German, Christkindl, eventually evolving into Kris Kringle. 

More legends sprang up, and in the late 1500s there was another name change–Father Christmas.

Along the way, the tradition developed guidelines. On the eve of December 6, parents instructed their children to hang their stockings by the fireplace or put their shoes out and they would be filled if they were good. They also had to go to bed early if they wanted anything because St. Nick only came at night to deliver his gifts.

The Dutch pronunciation for Saint Nicholas was Sinter Klass. When the Dutch settlers came to the New World and settled in New York, known then as New Amsterdam, they brought their St. Nick traditions. The name changed again from Sinter Klass to Santa Klass to Santa Claus. Which brings us to today.

We all know who this is!


On a side-note:

I still remember my brother and I coming down the stairs, dressed in our school uniforms, anticipating what was in our shoes for St. Nicholas Day. Then on the bus to school, we dreamed about what we would be receiving on the coming Christmas Day because our shoes were filled, signifying that we were being very good. My Mom collaborated with St. Nicholas  through high school, college, and even when we all moved away with our own families. What a treat it was when a St. Nicholas card arrived in the mail with a little money inside.  

Struna's St. Nicholas Day 1976

I continued the family custom for my own children and so did my brother and sisters with their children. When my Mom passed and I moved further away from everyone to Cape Cod, I wanted to keep the observance of St. Nick alive, along with the goodness of my Mom. So every year I mail a St. Nicholas card to my nieces and nephews, filling it with a dollar bill for each member of their family.  Over the years, I hope they have enjoyed it as much I have. It's a simple reminder to be good and never lose the magic of the season.

I wish the same to you.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Green Flash


The Green Flash is a real phenomenon that occurs at the moment the sun disappears from the horizon at sunset. When the conditions are just right, a distinct green spot is visible above the upper rim of the setting sun. It lasts no more than two seconds.

  The green flash at Santa Cruz, California.

My husband Tim, and I became aware of this unique event back in 1990. A dear friend visiting from Ohio told us all about it. We didn't believe him at first, but then we began occasionally catching a view of it at sunset.  Each time we ended our day at the beach in the warm months, we'd gather the kids and go to the beach in pursuit of the Green Flash. We'd patiently wait, all the while staring at the horizon for the lovely green glow to appear. 

Certain conditions needed to be all in sync for success.

A clear day with no haze or clouds

An unobstructed view of the horizon with a distinct edge.

Sometimes we were lucky. 

Hint: Cape Cod is a good location to see it.


Here's a link to a wonderful video of the Green Flash at sunset. Thanks to Juan Guerra

Video of Green Flash At Sunset


There are myths and legends that surround this magical happening.

It is said that once you have seen a green flash, you will never again go wrong in matters of the heart. But if you’re a fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, you know that the green flash signifies “a soul [that] comes back to this world from the dead.” 

Follow me on Instagram to see a reel (video) about the green flash.


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Scargo Tower


Cape Cod Bay can be dangerous as evidenced by the destruction of two Scargo Towers.


The first Scargo Tower was wooden and built in 1874 by the pioneering Tobey family. They built the wooden tower in an attempt to draw tourists to their nearby Nobscussett Hotel, one of the early “luxury” hotels of Cape Cod.


The Nobscussett Hotel

The wooden tower was destroyed in a gale two years later. The family rebuilt it again of wood, but it burned in 1900. The present cobblestone tower was completed in 1901.


Built in 1901


Where did the tower get its name?

Legend tells of a young warrior who leaves for war but gives three fish in a pumpkin to Princess Scargo of the Native American Nabscussett Tribe. He asks her to keep them alive until he returns. The fish outgrow the pumpkin and the Princess asks the women of the village to dig a lake for the fish using clam shells. The resulting excess dirt formed the hill where the tower rests.


Overlooking Scargo Lake, the lake resembles a fish.

Postcard from 1930 - 1940

At first glance, the inside of the tower looks ominous but then you realize the bars and chain link fencing are there for your protection.


This unique tower and its breathtaking views has mysterious elements but also, on a clear day, you can see the whole of Cape Cod Bay from Plymouth to Sandy Neck in Barnstable to the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown.

On a side note:
I found a weird event chronicled in the Cape Cod local papers from 1971.

In January, 1971 evidence of a large hole in the frozen Scargo lake proved suspicious. Two boys waiting for the school bus said they saw a large object crash and then pulsing orange lights in the water. The police, newspapers, and Air Force were called in, but because the water was too cold to continue searching for the object that made the hole, the matter was dropped. Divers tried again in vain to find anything in February, March, and in April. The murky waters of Scargo Lake proved any further searches futile, prompting the sighting to be lost in history. Since then, people talk of an odd humming noise coming from the lake.




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Thursday, November 3, 2022

Time and Tides

A few years ago, on a cold brisk day in February, the newspaper said that something interesting had been uncovered at Nauset Beach. Tim and I bundled up, grabbed some coffee, a few cookies, and headed to the beach only to discover and find the remains of one of the Three Sisters Lighthouses in Eastham, Massachusetts - Cape Cod.

These photos depict whats left of one of the brick foundations built either in 1838 or 1892.

Waiting for what the tides will uncover.

A little clearer.

Ahaa! A brick foundation.

Original Three Sisters Lighthouses with dwelling.

The Three Sisters of Nauset are a trio of historic lighthouses off Cable Road in Eastham, Massachusetts. In 1836, the people of Eastham petitioned Congress for more lighthouses. In the north of Cape Cod in Truro was Highland Light with one light, the second Lighthouse was located South in Chatham with a tower flanking either end of the light keepers house, from a distance the 'twin' towers signaled two lights

Eastham needed to distinguish itself from these lighthouses along the coastline, so, the Three Sisters were built in 1838 and set 150 feet apart in a straight line, these three fifteen foot brick towers were built on Nauset Beach.

Three Sisters Lighthouses circa.1892
 Falling prey to coastal erosion and decay brought by time and poor maintenance, the original lights fell into the sea in 1890 and were replaced in 1892 by wooden towers on brick foundations that stood twenty-two feet tall.
Another view of the Three Sisters

Three Sisters Lighthouses viewed from the sea.

These lighthouses gained the nickname of 'Three Sisters' because sailors thought they looked like three women wearing white dresses and black hats.


Today, on Cable Road close to Nauset Beach, you can view the three wooden sisters that were repurposed into private cottages upon their decommission, and finally reunited and preserved in 1983. They stand as they stood generations ago.


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Thursday, October 20, 2022

Strange things in Brewster...


A Holding Tomb

Last week I went exploring in an old Brewster Cemetery. I found this wooden doorway by accident. It's called a Holding Tomb and was built around 1840.

Holding tombs were necessary before the backhoe came along.  Inclement, frigid weather made the ground difficult to hand-dig and the body needed to be stored somewhere, at least until spring or the first thaw. Oftentimes this tomb was used to temporarily store the body until a burial location was decided, or if the family lacked sufficient funds to bury their loved one.

It was renovated in 2015 by the Brewster Cemetery Association.

As I walked up and down the rows of stones, I found the gravestone of Sadie Hassard.


Young Sadie Hassard was being courted by Frederick Alexander Brewster 1896.

Sadie grew tired of him and wanted to move on. 

It was a Sunday. Pastor Dawes began reading the opening prayer at the Brewster Unitarian church. The sound of gunshots drew the congregation outside. They found poor Sadie dead on the sidewalk from a gunshot wound behind her right ear. 

The young girl had been living with Pastor Dawes out of fear from Alexander. Sadie's father knew about Alexander's jealous and desperate heart. He hoped Sadie would be safer with the Pastor.

Excerpt from The Barnstable Patriot, May 18, 1896, 


Another strange glimpse into Brewster's history happened in 1873. The accounting of this event appeared in an Irish newspaper of the same year.

A supposed mermaid was seen upon the beach at Brewster last Thursday by Mrs. Young and several children. The head of this object, or mermaid, resembled exactly that of a child, while the rest of the body was of fish form. When first seen, the lady became frightened, but the children Less timid, approached it, and, wishing to determine whether it was dead or alive, threw some sand in its eyes, whereupon it uttered cries like that of a child, and commenced rolling over and over down to the water, and darted off into the sea, keeping the head above the surface, and resembling in every manner that of a child swimming. How this creature came here is yet a mystery, but it is thought it was left here by the tide, or rolled upon the shore in the night of its own accord’, (Anon 1873).

Mermaids appear in history beginning in 1000 BC.


One of the earliest mermaid legends appeared in Syria around 1000 BC when the goddess Atargatis dove into a lake to take the form of a fish. As the gods there would not allow her to give up her great beauty, only her bottom half became a fish, and she kept her top half in human form.


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