Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Historical Treasures Uncovered by Nature-Cape Cod

Nauset Beach in Orleans and Nauset Light Beach in Eastham have always held secrets of how Cape Codders once lived.  After a Nor'easter, a hard rain or just a blustery wind, unique artifacts will appear.

A few years ago, Tim and I went for a winter walk on Nauset Beach in Orleans. The sun felt warm but the wind blew 10' cooler across our bare faces. There had been a big storm the prior weekend, perfect for finding treasure.  We saw a dark object up ahead on the sand and thought it was a dead seal but as we got closer, we discovered it was a rubber boot.

This was not just any ordinary boot but one from over 100 years ago. Its sole and heel were made of wood (a dead giveaway that's it's old) with a rubber label that read: "Goodyear - patent pending 1890". You could see teeth marks from a shark or some other nasty fish all across the upper portion of the boot. Tim was brave enough to put his hand inside to the bottom of it. Thankfully there were no skeletal human bones down inside. Later I researched Goodyear.  Charles Goodyear discovered a process to vulcanize rubber in 1839 and sold the rights to it for various manufacturers throughout the next 40 years. The Goodyear Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio that we know today never made rubber boots. They started in 1898 making tires and inner tubes using the Goodyear patent.
So according to my calculations, these rubber boots were made before 1898 and bears the name of Goodyear.  In fact, there are actual bills of sales from stores ordering Charles Goodyear rubber boots in Connecticut as far back as 1868.

We brought the boot home and hung it on our treasure wall. It's still comparatively flexible and reminds us that there's always something out there waiting to be found.

Even though I have dug in this little garden by our driveway for years, I found this gun after a particularly heavy rain storm.  Its handle was exposed enough for me to spot it as I got into our car. Frightened at first, I soon realized that it was only a toy.

This 1940 or 1950s child's toy was probably left and forgotten outside as the children, who lived in the house, played a game of cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers.  In my novel, I placed a similar toy gun in the remains of an old root cellar that my contemporary character finds in her  backyard. Not only does she find the gun but gold coins, a skull and evidence that links her property to an old Cape Cod legend - Maria Hallett and the infamous pirate Sam Bellamy.

I'm always scanning the beach and horizon for interesting finds or maybe someday... treasure.


  1. I love it. Thanks for sharing the 'old' and the new. Rich Benz

  2. So interesting. I walk the beach all the time but never find anything that cool. I think I am not paying enough attention. I am glad that you are!

  3. Thanks. After a storm is the best time!