Boomtown, Cape Cod, Barefoot Trader, Summer, Pufferbellies, John Morgan

I went to Cape Cod a few weeks ago for a bit of R&R; though it seems like years ago now.
The weather couldn’t have been better with sunshine every day.
Everything pretty much went as planned.
But what I didn’t plan on was the disappointing discovery of closed restaurants and nightclubs—all the places I used to regularly haunt many years ago.
Route 28, the main road that horizontally bi-sects the Cape, appeared lackluster and sadly dormant in many spots reminding me more of the movie “28 Days Later” than the busy road I remember.

Just what the hell was happening here?

This was just too weird.

My sentimentality bubbled over when I saw a closed/for sale sign out in front of the Mill Hill Club.
This was a nightclub I used to play at in the early eighties; a span of time that found the Cape alive and teeming with people every single night of the week.

I was saddened in a way that I couldn’t explain to my daughters.
My wife knew but the girls quickly got sick of my reminiscing and lamenting
and began to look at me with an implied “there he goes again” neon sign flashing across their foreheads.

Some people say that everything is cyclical, and that in time, things change becoming what they once were.

The Compass Lounge, one of the most popular nightclubs is now a CVS.

Thompson’s Clam Bar, a great restaurant on a harbor in Harwich, has been turned into condominiums.

The Barefoot Trader, the quintessential Cape Cod gift shop that boasted Easter Island-type statues set along the walkway that led inside the shop, now sells Persian Rugs.


Does anything stay in business anymore?

Jeepers, this was like the Twilight Zone.

I kept waiting to look in my rear view mirror to see Rod Serling or the Verizon “can you hear me now” guy, sans glasses.
They both look about the same anyway.
It was really sad. From the price of gas to the taste of lobster, everything had changed. But maybe the biggest change of all…was me.



40 thoughts on “Boomtown

  1. I loved this post and all the comments. I have lived here for 35 years. I live in Falmouth. I love Falmouth because the Main street part of it is much the same with the beautiful village green, the harbor, Woods Hole. The mid Cape is way to built up for me and I rarely go there. West Falmouth and North Falmouth are much the same as they were when I first moved here. Or maybe they built up somewhat but it happened slowly and I didn’t notice. I was only 23 when we moved here and bought a house at the whopping price of $27,000. I still live in that house.
    I drive my car by the beach almost everyday and park for a few minutes just to hear the sound of the ocean, a sound I never tire of. I’ve never traveled much but I don’t need to because here I’m home.

    “The sound of the ocean . . . “
    God, I can’t agree more.
    27K for a house in Falmouth?
    Sign me up!
    Thanks so much for the comment.


  2. I still live on the Cape and I hate all the changes. I am tired of the New CVS’s and Stop and Shops and Golf Courses. I am in my 40’s and can hardly find any place to go to have a good time at night. Boring. I understand about the Problems with the drinking and driving but we always have a designated driver. If people were more responsible like that maybe places like Mill Hill and Compass would still be around and maybe they would have renovated them into “classier” establishments. My heart will always belong to the Mill Hill Club. I heard it is going to be torn down this year and another building will replace it still owned by the original owners. I am going out this weekend to take some pictures. My husband and I met there and I’m pretty sure we were the only people to have their wedding reception there. May not have been New Seabury but we loved it. I really miss the old cape cod.

    Awwww, Bev. I feel your pain. I really do.
    I miss the old Cape as well.
    Send me a few pics of the Mill Hill?
    Thanks for your comment.


  3. Thanks for the memories. I remember when John M Morgan ‘M is for massive’When we both worked at the Improper Bostonian in Dennisport. Monday was Cold Duck night Wednesday was Tidal Wave
    night seventy five cents Vodka,Gin and Rum mixed with Collins mix. Who can forget John being Rico Flashback or singing I’m your Mailman. Living in the millionaire house in Harwich and John taking the jute box out of the Improper and partying all night.The last man standing from the old cape is Rockwell King at the Sand Bar In Dennis 49 years and still going strong! What lucky people we were to live on the Cape in those days.

    Lucky? Damn yeah!
    Thanks for stopping by, Doug


  4. “Those were the days my friends,” as the song goes! I’m that 70’s Happy Hour Junkie that last posted (6/21/07)and it’s great to find others with the same fond memories..those good times on the Cape certainly had a great (positive) impact on my life! John Morgan was the best! I’ve recently been researching the whereabouts of the Fabulous Farquahr and sadly learned that at least two of the original foursome have passed away…I believe only Flamingo may be still living. I’m now reading posts on different blogs from the kids of our Cape Cod Happy Hour generation….trying to find the words to songs like, “My Eggs Don’t Taste the Same Without You” and “Carol the Bottom of the Barrel!” Personally, I’m going to try and revive some of those very funny, bawdy, beer drinking, hand clapping songs..for posterity sake! Does anyone know or has caught Jim Plunkett’s gig at the Improper Bostonian in Dennisport/Yarmouth area? Guess he’s been around for years & works with a DJ, is he the new
    John Morgan? I just moved to San Diego from Phoenix and can only do my research online! Keep the memories alive!


  5. It took several trips to “back then” to convince me that it is best to live in the “now”. I want to remember the good times I had when my best girl friend and I could visit the local “Friendly Tavern” in Kenmore/Akron, Ohio, have a beer or two, dance together without danger of being called “queer”, or dance with equally “unpaired” local guys, and then go our separate ways back to our own homes.Back sometime in the middle 60s, it was with a heavy heart I stood outside the entrance to a appliance repair shop shop that once held laughter, music, cheap beer and companionship for single young people who had a hell of a lot to learn about life before the actuality of what life is all about, set in.

    I think it’s nice to go back to the “old days” and re-live them, my opinion, though.
    Through this post you re-visited some wonderful memories of your own.
    That was my original intention in writing it in the first place.
    Thanks so much for the visit, Mary.
    Much appreciated.
    Please stop back again . . .


  6. In an earlier post, I said I wanted to do this…well I did! So, in an attempt to keep some of the old Cape Cod Happy Hour music alive and for all those Fabulous Farquahr curiosity seekers (2nd & 3rd generation now)…from memory, I recorded covers of four of their stage classics. Understand, nothing can top their “live” originals but perhaps these may help bring back some of the memories and the smiles to many of my fellow Happy Hour goers…also, no puppets, dogs or cats were harmed during the filming of the videos:) Any interest, simply search “fabulous farquahr” in YouTube and they’re in the top four positions. As their lyrics say; “be a person of taste…screw the whole human race…and put on a great big SMILE!” Hope you enjoy!


  7. The few times I attempted to “relive the past” by returning to places I remember from earlier and happy occasions were such failures that I have no wish to ever again repeat the mistake. I am too busy creating now, what, if I live long enough, will be another happy memory best left in the here and now. Does that make sense?

    Total sense, Mary.
    Live for today and leave it at that.
    Thanks so much for the comment.


  8. I love ALL your stories, brought back a lot of great memories!!
    I would LOVE to get a picture of the COMPASS LOUNGE from the outside.
    I am finishing a game room and a picture would be great!!
    I plan on blowing up the picture.
    If anyone can help,it would be great !!
    I’m even willing to pay for one…let me know !!……..
    joe oleary…….thank you.


  9. Wow – just found this site and its brings back those great Cape Cod memories. I was one of those lucky ones who lived & worked on the Cape in the summers (1978-1984) and experienced many of the infamous “Happy Hour” events. Mill Hill Club, Pufferbellies, Rascals, Oar & Anchor (Falmouth). The parties were endless, the girls were plentiful and the quarter beer nights at the Improper left you with a wicked hangover. What I would give to relive just one summer – again.

    I will be heading back down to the Cape over the next couple of months but it is never the same. What a Great era!


  10. I was a Cape Cod waitress from summers of ’79 thru ’83 many great memories – loved Dancing with Henry on Mondays at the Improper and the cute guy (Brian) who was the bouncer.
    Great, great, greeat times!

    You may have seen the band I was in at the time.
    We gigged on the Cape for several summers.
    Ever hear of DownEast?
    That was me. (piano)
    Thanks for stopping by.
    Glad you still remember way back then . . . 😉
    It’s a bit foggy for me.


  11. 69 or 70 at The Mill Hill Club there was a great little band “The Northeast Expressway” at Happy Hours a little gem of a group who covered the Beatles. After years of googling Fabulous Farquahr they are finally getting their Due too bad they just preceded this wonderful era of music and video sharing. Thank you Charlie G. for covering some of their songs. The Golden Age of Happy Hour Entertainment. My eggs don’t taste the same without you guys!

    And thank you Michael for writing Boomtown.
    (couldn’t have said it better myself)


    1. OMG !….WOW !
      i CANT BEILIVE I FOUND THIS SITE ! MY DAD WAS ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF NORTHEAST EXPRESSWAY. ( Paul Charon) he was the keyboard / organ player. its awesome to see some one remembers.

      Thanx Charlie !


  12. Cape Cod is near and dear to my heart. I spent 8 summers at the Cape renting a house in Falmouth with a group of my friends. Loved the beach, the happy hours at The Casino (now condos), the Brothers Four, Zacks, and all those wonderful places where I met so many new friends and listened to the music of that great band, “The Northeast Expressway.” They were great guys (Larry, Gerry, Henry and Bill) and somewhere in my house I have the 8 track tapes that they personally made for me with their music. If they were still playing now, I would definitely go see them and reminisce. Cape Cod is a special place and will always be near and dear to my heart. Anyone know where the guys are from the Northeast Expressway now? Enjoy life. It’s short. Fill your days with sunshine. Rose


    1. Rose, I would gladly share John Morgan album & Farquahr albums for copies of ‘The Northeast Expessway’ tapes.
      They were super at Mill Hill.
      Cape Cod in the 60’s could heaven be much better ?
      Memories to last a lifetime.

      Hey Charlie-
      Thanks for keeping this post alive!



      1. northeast expressway yes they were a great band, i was their sound man from 1976 to 1981, the good old days….in the words of donald fagen from steely dan, those days are gone forever, over a long time ago…………….


    2. Hi Rose,

      If you have a copy of the Northeast Expressway
      Band I would be very interested in buying a copy
      for my brother. The first time I went to see a local band was when my brother took me to see them. I think it would make a great Christmas gift for him.

      Mark Z.


  13. My husband and I just found this blog after “googling” The Northeast Expressway Band. My husband’s father is Gerry Griffin who played in the band from 1972-1984. Rose, We loved reading your post and we would love to hear those 8 tracks you have! My husband, Adam would love to be able to get a copy of those recordings if you can find them! We just called Gerry and he remembers you, your roommate, Barbara and your husband,. He frequently reminisces about those times as well! Anyway, it has been great to read a little bit about the history of the band and we would welcome any other stories or info anyone has about the Northeast Expressway! Sounds like there were a lot of good times! Thanks to everyone for these posts!

    Thanks so much for dropping by.


    1. Hi Emily,

      Do you have any copies of Northeast Expressways music. I remember going to see them many times at the Edge in Pawtucket.
      They were the best local band around.
      Feel free to E-mail me.

      Mark Zarembka


    2. Emily,
      I bought a Micro Moog from Gerry. I’d love to hear some tapes/CD’s etc if you have any. I can be contacted at the email included with this message


    3. Emily,
      This must be some kind of coincidence. I was going though my memory box and found the publicity pic of the band. Your father in law was a good friend. Last time I saw Adam was in 79. He was in his stroller at the Lincoln Mall. Give my love to Gerry. My husband and I have fond memories of the band and seeing them all over Ri and Mass.


  14. I spent the summer of ‘69 in Dennisport waiting tables at “The Steakpub”. Great summer days, late nights in Orleans at “The Southward Inn” (original name: Orleans Inn) listening to the Fabulous Farquahr…My Eggs, My Island, Provincetown Jug Band, Rocky Gay, etc, etc…great music, great fun…at least two of the group are deceased, the Orleans Inn has burned down and yes, the Cape will never be the same; The memories will alway be there, along with my original copies of the Farquahr’s first three albums. Yes, its very hard to explain the feelings one gets when I think back to that summer 40 years ago!

    It’s all about the memories, isn’t it? Awesome memories.
    Thanks so much for leaving a comment on this post.
    I know that many people connect to it for very different reasons.
    Long live the Cape! And John Morgan!!!!! 😆
    Thanks, Tony


  15. Emily if you read this tell your father I said Hi ! !
    We were friends back in the day and I lost track of him after I moved to NJ.


    1. Hey John. This is Bill from Expressway. How you doin’? Never thought I’d be in touch with you again. I often wondered whatever happened to you. Ended up in New Jersey huh? Hope you’re doing well. I’m still down here in Little Rhody, looking for work just long enough to take me to retirement in December. Whatever happened to the gang? Scultz, Jeff, Ron? Charlie and Glenn are still gigging round here and I’ve been meaning to catch them cause one of the places they play is just up the street from where I live. But it’s pretty hard for us old-timers to walk out the door after 9pm. Donna and I are celebrating our 42nd Anniversary today. Thanks for all the help in the past, loading, unloading, setting up, soundchecking, all stuff that you should have been paid for but did just cause you’re one hell of a guy. Sure do miss those days. So please contact me by email so we can talk more and exchange phone numbers. By the way, do you still have that Star Wars Medley cassette?


      1. Hi Bill,

        Any chance NE expressway would do a reunion concert?
        I know that the Met Cafe has had several bands from the 70’s
        get back together and each of the shows packed the place.
        Some of the local 70’s bands that got back together this year included
        Wild Turkey, Hometown Rockers and the Young Adults.
        I think that there are quite a few people who would love to see
        you guys back on stage again.

        Best regards,
        Mark Z.


      2. Hi Bill ,
        Were you a member of Expressway in the 60’s and early 70’s ? My Dad (Paul Charon ) was one of the original members< i have a great black and while photo of the band and the one 45 the recorded back in the day ( actually my mom has it) . and of course we all remember Ricky Carr , from richard carr productions. I remember swimming in his pool with his son little Ricky when we were kids. rick managed all of my dads later bands OMEGA AND PYRAMID…I remember band practice at the widow Macoy ! would love to talk with you ! my email is : or you can call 571-228-5059…
        I really hope you read this and contact me.


  16. Hi Emily and Adam (and Charlie too)!
    I was reminiscing about Cape Cod today and wishing I could spend a week there soaking up the sun, seeing old friends, walking down Main St in Falmouth and buying a dozen tee-shirts that say “Cape Cod.” I live in Tampa, FL now and try to get back to Mass. when I can. My best friend is still Barbara and she lives in Quincy. We had so much fun at The Casino, Zacks, Mill Hill and all those places we would go just to listen to The Northeast Expressway. Strangely enough, I happened upon this website tonight and read your comments. If I remember correctly, Adam was Gerry and Patti’s first-born. Is that right? How are your parents? I didn’t really know Patti but your Dad was so smart and so witty and such an excellent musician. LIfe has been such an exciting journey….and you won’t believe this….but I came across the 8-track tapes a couple nights ago in one of my storage boxes. I plan to get them made into cd’s. Please contact me at my email ( or send me a note to 9633 Orange Grove Drive, Tampa, FL 33618. I would love to hear from you. And if I have permission from your Dad, I’ll get you a copy of those tapes. I think I also have a picture of them in a newspaper ad. The band was awesome! I’d love to see them play again. Brings a smile to my face. Take care. Rose

    Nice to see people hooking up here at Smoke and Mirrors!
    Let me know how it all pans out, okay?


    1. Rose I’d love to get a CD when you make them. Let me know how much, as I’d be willing to pay to cover costs and mailing. They were a great band…one of the best on the Club Scene in the early 70’s to 80’s. they played the clubs in RI MAss. and I’m sure a number of other places as well.

      Let me know


  17. hi rose, i was the sound man for northeast expressway from 1976 to 1981 and would love a copy of any tapes from that time, i had many high quality cassettes from that time, but were damaged in a flood, i would love to get some copies of them from that time……352-428 1946 please call


    1. David,
      You must have taken over sound and lights when Charlie left. He plays with one or two other guys here in RI…(I can’t think of the name of the band right now…it must be age catching up with me.
      if I recall correctly. Northeast Expressways last show was at Gullivers in Smithfield


  18. I was stationed at Otis AFB in the early 70’s and remembered the Northeast Expressway as one of the best bands I’d heard that hadn’t made it big. What a sound. A great small bar, I believe in Falmouth. This is a great thread. Someone needs to do something with those tapes. I for one would drop a a few to bring back those memories.


  19. Best summers of my life waitressing at the Casino. Northeast Expressway was THE BAND. Michael Sweeney knew how very much I loved it there and told me not to ever come back because “you can’t go home again” I did go back and he was right. Sadly he and many others are no longer with us but the memories will last forever.


  20. me and my roommate pattie went to see Northeast Expressway whenever we could. they were awesome!! So many great memories at the Red barn, Mohawk Club,The Library, The Edge, Gladstones, etc. we often wonder what happened to all the guys. we really did enjoy the music and wish they would have a reunion tour. we would be there!! if you guys read this please know we still think of you and thanks for the memories (and the great music)


  21. Moved to Florida from lower Connecticut 3 years ago. Missed getting up to the Cape last year for the first time in 40 years. Try to catch John Morgan every year as it brings back such incredibly great memories. Will be back for a week in August. Anyway a few others not mentioned before were The Shoes at ? (now/was Christine’s), there was also a group there that dressed up in bathing suits and did Beach Boy music as well as other costume changes, Gordie Milne, concerts (Santana, Southside Johnny) at the Cape Cod Arena. Remember seeing Gary Lewis & the Playboys at the Mill Hill. Saw one of the last Faquahr show’s in Fairfield, Ct and video taped one of my favorites, Pizza Boy. Have to pull that one out and get it over to DVD. Picked up a CD at that concert called “From the Top”, 22 songs. I treasure it.


  22. Like all of you, loved the happy hours on the Cape.
    Remember when John Morgan left IB and opened Pufferbellies. never got into it in the same way as IB and felt then that it was the end of an era.
    I have friends who helped build Sundancer (was Snowden’s horsefoot cove at the time). It tried to keep that happy hour spirit alive with its quirky unconventional boat race. bath tubs, etc trying to race around the pond. very funny.
    Is John Morgan still playing regularly? I don’t think he owns pufferbellies (at least he is not identified as the owner after its license was recently suspended for a short period). If so, does anyone know where. Even google doesn’t seem to be able to answer this question.


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