I’m totally excited about having met so many Kingsland readers recently, at the Falmouth Arts Alive Festival. Many had read the first two books of the Kingsland Series, and were looking for the third. Many had read the first, and were looking for volumes 2 and 3. For me, this was the first fair of 6 that I plan to attend, and I’m hoping that more readers will show up in Yarmouth, Sandwich, Brewster, Hyannis or Orleans. When I originally wrote and published this series 35 years ago, I never met anyone (I was living in Vermont). So my summer marketing scheme is a pleasant change of pace.
I’m hoping to “meet” other readers via this blog – you are encouraged to simply say “hi” or “I liked this post”. You don’t have to say why if you don’t want to! (But if you didn’t like it, you do have to say why, so I can respond to whatever it is you object to or disagree with.)
If you’re on the Cape this summer and attend one of the fairs, you’ll find me in this outfit (“The Heir” starts in 1928). Passersby liked my headdress, and everyone got a souvenir who wanted one, because the feather boa was moulting the whole day and little black fluffy things were scattered throughout the fairground.
I guess it’s time to order a “real” one.
Now, having ascertained that our fictional Universalist Church was more elegant than the original, let’s take a look at Kingslay trapped trapped in the choir loft with his cousin Julia.
She’s a highly spirited 13 year old. A problem for her mother, who is training her to observe Decorum Befitting a Young Lady, while Julia herself is chafing at the bit, just too energetic to be able to conform to the standards of the day. And then there is the matter of her hat. What would its style be, that she could pin lilacs to its brim? I didn’t have the internet to look at the possibilities 35 years ago when I first envisioned this scene, but now I do, and this is what I thought would work:
You could pin the flowers right around the brim, which is fabric covered, or inside,where the color changes from white to blue. I expect Julia chose the latter, considering her dishevelment half-way through the service.
Then I got interested in what kind of dress would be appropriate for her. She was thirteen, and thirteen year olds were protected, kept young and innocent – in fact, if I’m remembering the right era, girls married quite late – in their early to mid twenties. So Julia is very much a very young girl, and this is the dress I thought was just right for her, considering the bonnet:
I spent a lot of time looking at Victorian garments, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so modified a hat and dress so they’d match and look pretty together. I’m pleased with the result!
Let’s shift our attention from This is the House, Molly and Elijah, and return to Kingsley Merrick, who has come back to Waterford, ostensibly to attend the dedication of the new Universalist church. Though I have located the new church across the street from the Congregationalists, the real one is actually on main street in Brewster, on land that had once belonged to my husband’s family. Since it was his ancestor, Elijah Cobb, who had broken away from the town church, I think it’s reasonable that the “break away” church would be located on his land, which he probably donated to the cause
In case you’ve forgotten, or never knew, here’s a picture of him in his youth.
In 1858 this church was sold to a gentleman who must have liked the location (a very good address, in business terms.) However, he didn’t tear it down, but instead boosted it up in such a manner that I have yet to figure it out. (Compare the old picture with this one, especially the window placement.)
A long while ago, the town’s post office was located here. In my initial recollection of the place, Donald Doane reigned supreme. He is represented by Mr. Snow, in The Heir. Like so many Yankees, he knew the answers to questions before you asked them, but wouldn’t tell you what you wanted to know unless you asked for the information very specifically. (Everyone knows the example of the tourist who asks if the Yankee knows to way to a certain place, and the Yankee answers, Yep. End of conversation.) And then there’s a neighbor of ours, a Vermont Yankee from way back, who answered the phone; on the other end, someone asked: Is so-and-so there? (So-and-so was an unknown person.) Nope, answered our neighbor, and hung up.
Here’s the store today:
Now refurbished, the post office long gone, it retains the atmosphere of an old-fashioned country store, with amenities like excellent coffee and pastries, shelves crowded with gifts and Cape Coddy things. You can go upstairs where there’s a lot more stuff to buy, and at the back you can see the pulpit on a platform, with a few steps leading up to it. Perhaps the choir sat up there. The “sanctuary” would have been much smaller than the one I picture Kingsley venturing into with his cousin Julia and the rest of his uncle’s family.
(Both of the old photos, by the way, may be found in the third printing of the Brewster Historical Society’s “A Cape Cod Town Remembered.”)
When Molly and Elijah go to Rockford to meet Mother Merrick, the family house is described in detail. (After all, Molly will be marooned there with this harridan!) I have an abiding interest in house building; my husband and I built several on the Cape during the boom of the 70’s, and I became interested in local old places by default. We knew how to build a house by following the Massachusetts structural code, but 300 years ago, obviously, this guide was unavailable. Originally, the earlier settlers were interested in simply getting out of the rain. Being English, most of them country people, they were accustomed to seeing these kinds of cottages:
So they started with the minimal shelter, known today as the “half house”. It wasn’t half of anything when it was built – it was everything. Their time was consumed with providing for survival, and a small shelter did the job just fine despite the fact that the family grew and grew and grew. They most likely did thatch the earliest houses with beach grass, but there was plenty of wood, and thatch wasn’t probably much good in the wind, of which there is plenty on Cape Cod. Thus, shingles all the way around. When things got just too crowded, they added another half-house:
And then you have the full Cape, such as we are accustomed to seeing today:
Then there’s the ¾ house, an evolutionary variation leading to the Cape Cod Cottage as we know it.
More on its structural details is described in What’s So Grand About it?