Thursday, July 20, 2017

Circling Buzzards Bay

From Dave Brigham:

The heat and humidity weighed heavily on me as I slogged along Main Street in Bourne, Mass. Overhead, vultures traced lazy arcs, awaiting my demise. But I was determined, damnit, to take pictures and live another day! Fans of the Backside of America demand dedication and excellence.

I was traipsing through Buzzards Bay, the village of Bourne that's on the mainland side of the Cape Cod Canal. Every year I spend a week in Pocasset, another Bourne village, with my family. Perhaps you read last year's vacation installment -- October 3, 2016, "Bourne Supremacy." For other Cape Cod-themed posts, see the bottom of this page.

Buzzards Bay was allegedly named by white guys a few centuries back who hadn't brushed up on their ornithology. Spying a large bird near the bay's shore, they assumed it was a buzzard and so called the large body of water after it. Turns out the creature was an osprey, according to Wikipedia. I can attest there are osprey aplenty in this area of the Cape, although evidently the birds were endangered for many years due to pesticide usage, again according to Lord Wiki.

Osprey Bay has a nice ring to it, but it sounds too much like a fancy lady's clothing store to me. Buzzards Bay sounds tough.

Speaking of tough, I bet there were more than a few hard-assed folks in leather jackets, chaps and "MOTHER" tattoos hanging out at the Port O' Call back in the day. And that was just the ladies! Bada bing, bada boom! I'll be here all week....

Seriously, though, this place was a biker bar back in the late '80s, according to this newspaper article from September 2015. The place had cleaned up its act leading up to its closing two years ago, thanks to a new owner. Speculation that the nearby Mass Maritime Academy might develop the site has yet to be realized.

Like many working class hangouts, the Port, as it was known, had its fans and its detractors. On TripAdvisor, which had listed the Port O' Call at one time as a "Must See Attraction in Buzzard's Bay," one commenter had this to say:

It's not even there Anymore. But when it was there it was disgustingly dirty. It's definently not an attraction. Far from it. The place is frequented by not the most up standing customers. Nothing was ever cleaned and it smelled horribly rotten.the back parking lot was a place for shady dealings. Wink wink.The interior was dank smelly and condemable to say the least. Yes the drinks were cheap but I'd rather not have to wear a hazmat suit to have a drink. Completely disgusting.

To be fair, one of the regulars quoted in the article above called the bar "the Cheers of Bourne."

Across the street from the bar, at the entrance to the maritime school, sits the Buzzards Bay train station. Built in 1912, the station is used by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (in collaboration with the Mass Bay Transportation Authority) for its Cape Flyer summer train from Boston to Hyannis. There is an old interlocking tower on the site as well. The building is used by the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce.

Adjacent to the train station is the beautiful Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, which is usually in the "up" position to let boats and ships pass, but which is lowered when the Cape Flyer and other trains pass through.

A short waddle away is the National Marine Life Center, which includes a hospital and education center. And some cool artwork on the outside.

On the opposite side of the street sits one of numerous empty storefronts.

I believe there was a pizza place next door up until early 2016. While there are several restaurants and bars along this stretch of Main Street, there are a lot of teeth knocked out of the Buzzards Bay smile. But why would this place be different than any other town?

This place sells golf carts and services vehicles of all types, I think. Looks like the kind of place where Ward Cleaver might have bought a Packard. 'Twas built in 1941.

Continuing east on Main Street, I saw this building.

Built in 1938, it's a small retail facility that seems as if it's been empty for quite some time. It's currently on the market for just under $400K if you're interested. It has town water and sewer. What are you waiting for?!?!

I focus a lot on the decrepit, abandoned and rusting on this blog, but not everything on the backside is falling apart. I showcased a nice mural above, and now want to share a military memorial.

Staff Sergeant Matthew Pucino was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. This clock is a beautiful monument to his service, and that of others in the armed forces.

As regular Backside readers know, I have a little bit of a thing for churches. For an atheist like me, this is a strange attraction. I rarely go into churches, but often find myself drawn to the simple and sometimes elegant architecture of houses of worship. If you tack a sailor in a boat over the front door, I melt into a puddle of swoon.

And what a cool history this church has! Formed in 1938, St. Peter's (named for St. Peter the Fisherman) was without its own building until 1947, when the minister procured an abandoned church and had it shipped by barge from Hull, Mass., to Buzzards Bay. To read the whole story, check out this article.

I also got a squishy feeling inside when I saw this place.

The Bay Motor Inn was built in 1920 and looks great for being nearly 100 years old. I imagine this place has gone through some ups and downs and probably seen its share of oddball tourists and maybe the occasional serial murderer. But it gets good reviews online.

The penultimate stop on this part of my Buzzards Bay/Bourne tour was this sign.

ABB Moonwalks, thankfully, is still in business. Just not at this location. As you might suspect, the company rents bouncy houses, obstacle courses, water slides and more. I'm waiting for them to strike a partnership with The Paddy Wagon Inflatable Pub.

Speaking of booze....

I love the look of Bourne Bridge Liquors. Built in 1962, it has that Midcentury Modern look that the kids love today. And check out the hanging lamps and cool map on the inside, courtesy of Retro Roadmap.

After loading up on beer, wine and Goldschlager, why not head to church?

Here I go with my church thang again. I love how humble this Christadelphian Chapel appears. Who knows, maybe the inside is filled with funhouse mirrors, a meth lab and a shooting range. The building is listed at one real estate web site as having been built in 1900, and on the Town of Bourne site as 1940. I'm guessing the building is 117 years old, and perhaps the Christadelphians took it over 77 year ago.

I wrapped up my latest Bourne sojourn along Route 28, just south of the infamous traffic circle that greets visitors to the Cape.

When I first visited Pocasset probably close to two decades ago, this driving range was active. Been a while since any budding Jordan Spieths or John Dalys have aimed for the ball-scoop cart at this place.

Guessing this is the Buzzards Bay Garage guys' chop shop for boosted golf carts.

Just a chip shot away sits the former Cartwheels II amusement emporium.

Inside these hallowed halls my wife, kids and I once played video games and ate cheesy, salty foods. And on the track below, we raced go-karts until the treads flew off into the safety netting that separated us from the thousands of cheering fans.

And lastly, we donned our knickers and competed fiercely on the miniature golf course that is slowly beginning to look like, well, an actual golf course. The British kind, with high grass, windswept vistas and royalty lolling all about.

I am joking, but it comes from a place of sadness. With so many retail and entertainment options fading away into the digisphere, what will become of brick-and-mortar anything? What jobs will students, foreign workers on visas, -- hell anybody! -- do if all that's left is to pack dry goods onto delivery drones or consult via Skype every time someone's phone gets overheated from too much Snap-Face-Tinder-texting?

You know who's never online? The Honey Dew bear.

Started in 1973 with a single shop in Mansfield, Mass., Honey Dew Donuts has grown to 145 shops in New England. The company competes with hometown heavyweight Dunkin' Donuts and that fancy-schmancy Seattle coffee junta, so obviously once in a while a joint shuts down. This place has been vacant for at least a baker's dozen years. Funny I never noticed it before.

A place called Bruno's Burgers was supposed to open on this site a few years ago, but I guess the grass-fed beef was greener in some other location. The temporary sign for the burger joint is still there.

Here are some other Cape Cod posts:

July 26, 2015, "Cavalier Attitude About Motels."

August 5, 2010, "Dark Side of the Motel." The motel was torn down recently; only the sign remains.

July 28, 2010, "Two Hearts Beat As One."

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