When I left off, I had us just entering Bearskin Neck in the little town of Rockport, Massachusetts. We were curious, but also a little worried about what we might find. It had been several years since we’d been there. And the shops and cafes that you find at vacation spots are like the lilies of the field. Not the ones in Matthew 6, for heaven knows, the people who own them and work in them do decidedly toil. But, like the flowers, they are fragile, and come a storm or frost, they may vanish in the twinkling of an eye.
So, we set off, and almost at once had a little disappointment. There was a restaurant that we used to visit almost every time we went to Rockport. It was called “The Greenery,” and was located right at the point where Mount Pleasant street intersects with the Neck, at about 5 Dock Square.
But, when we got to the location, it was gone. In fact, even the building it had occupied was empty. I mean, not only was the restaurant gone, but also nothing seem to have taken its place. It was simply empty. (Important: see the Special Note #1 the below.)
About the photos: Three today. The first has nothing to do with the story (as always). It’s of Martha and I took it today while we were down in Austin. I finally got her to let me buy her a new turquoise ring at, not surprisingly, the shop known as The Turquoise Trading Post (https://www.turquoisetradingpost.com/) The deal was if she got a ring, I’d get a new hat :-)
I later did some research on the web about it all. I gather that the Greenery encountered some hard times after about 2010. Then, another restaurant, “The Blue Lobster Grill,” had opened in the same spot in 2011. But, the Lobster, too, had closed in 2022--again, I have no idea why? Covid again? Just guessing.
Though, I gather, from something else I read, that the people who ran the Blue Lobster are still in town and still in business, though (at least as of the time I’m writing this, November 30, 2022), they now operate the Rockport House of Pizza.(2)
Still, we were distressed by the Greenery’s absence. We had good memories of going there over the years. At least when we were visiting, the place had terrific sandwiches and excellent plated meals. Eating there was a great way to begin, or end, your visit to the Neck.
I remember going to the place with David when he was little--he’d always charm the waitresses--and then, later, when he was off to college, we’d go there ourselves frequently. It was a terrific spot for weekend lunches or date night dinners. We would, if we could, go into the back room of the place, where there were great windows opening up on the harbor. You could see the fishing boats and pleasure boats coming and going, and, of course, there was a terrific view of Motif No. 1, the world’s most famous fishing shack, in all its scarlet photogenic glory by the sea.
But, now it was gone, and we worried that that was an omen. We feared that once more we’d find nothing here that had once been ours. We feared, more, that maybe such would be the case for the whole trip. Maybe New England itself...or, rather, the memory of it which belonged to us, and which we cherished...was no longer there.
So, we turned up Bearskin neck and began to walk...
Everything was completely familiar.
Oh, it wasn’t necessarily the *same* shops and galleries and cafes we saw. Many were gone. Others had new owners. Others, still, had gone a different route...had a different line of products.
The second is a street scene from Bearskin Neck. You can see that it is starting to cloud up. More about that in future.
Yet, in a way, it was the same. The Neck was...as it been before, as it probably always will be...a number of smallish shops and small businesses, selling goods of interest to seasonal visitors and casual tourists, and doing it with the same restraints of cost and location. Here was a shop offering women’s clothing for summer days. Five years ago, it offered souvenirs for would-be beach combers. Five years from now, perhaps it will be a gallery of seascape paintings and beach glass jewelry.
And over there, another shop. This one *used* to be the clothing store. Now it offers beach glass and shell animals with “goo goo googly eyes.” And beyond that one, two doors up, that’s a toy store for the bored children of visiting parents...and the lucky grandchildren of doting grandparents. A year ago it offered New England themed gifts and home decor. And, just to the left, that shop on the corner? See it? It’s “a proud importer” of fine French and Irish linens. It used to offer “luxury” scented soaps and body washes. In two more years...or whenever we visit again...who can say what it will be?
The point being that the shops on the Neck, or in any resort town, are governed by the same set of economic laws. And thus they tend, by parallel evolution, to find the same specializations, over and over again.
It sounds like it would be monotonous, but curiously, it isn’t. Instead, it is comforting. You go on vacation. You travel miles and miles. You arrive and seek “something different” from your daily life. You find it. It is new and and refreshing. But it is the same new and refreshing that you saw before. And it isn’t so different that it is disturbing.
Therefore, we headed off on the Neck to explore what was simultaneously new...and the same...for us.
Which, in a funny sort of way, was also when our trip actually became our vacation.
More to come.
And the third, well, how can I refuse the popular demand that’s sure to come? Here’s my new hat with a most charming Roadrunner. I love roadrunners. They may be my favorite modern dinosaurs.
1. Special Note: I have just this moment learned that the Greenery still exists! The original owner moved (I think her name is Amy Hale) and is now operating the Greenery Cafe in Ogunquit, Maine (Ogunquit’s rather like Rockport, by the way. It, too, is a fishing town that now has a second career as a resort and vacation community). The exact address is 369 Main Street, Ogunquit, ME, 03907, they have a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/thegreenerycafeogt . Looks like they only do breakfast, lunches, and brunch. But that’s enough. And I’m delighted that the Greenery is still with us.
2) “Rockport House of Pizza under new management,” Gloucester Daily Times, Jan 12, 2022, https://www.gloucestertimes.com/news/rockport-house-of-pizza-under-new-management/article_053a7a1a-73e8-11ec-a967-67de93ce8531.html. And as for the Rockport House of Pizza, the webpage is here: https://www.rockporthouseofpizza.com)
I have checked out the menu online. Nothing excessively fancy, but good beach-town fare--pizza, calzones, hot and cold sub sandwiches, pasta (ziti, lasagna, etc.) and, of course, Roast Beef sandwiches. Coastal New Englanders do love their roast beef sandwiches!
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