Boomtown

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.

WTF?

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.

serling

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24 thoughts on “Boomtown

  1. Ah the days of or adolocent years of our 20’s the days of Bobcat Goldwaith and Sam Kinison going into Hyannis to the Crystal Palce for “Happy Hour”
    being enttertained by John Morgan. The good ole’ carefree days of the summers of our younger days. Spent with good friends. 😉

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  2. I spent a New Years on Cape Cod with my cousin…way back in 1994. All I remember was that Chili’s was the Mexican food restaurant. I guess with such great seafood, TexMex wasn’t in high demand. 🙂 What’s a girl from Texas supposed to do!

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  3. Nothing ever stays the same does it? I get all melancholy when I drive to where my dad lives – and we grew up – and I can remember when they planted the trees along the highway…and now they are HUGE! Not the same….

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  4. Yup, the Cape has changed quite a bit over the years. I remember all the places you mentioned and have put together a few posts about places that have faded into the Cape’s history.
    Here’s an old Barefoot Trader ad.

    Very cool ad. I remember the place fondly.
    Nice website as well.
    Almost blew you away as ‘spam’.
    You’re not spamming me. . . are you?
    I hate when that happens.

    ~m 

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  5. Yes, the Cape has changed. Fond memories indeed! Re-live some of those fond memories at Belly-Putters Pub at the Old Barnstable County Fairgrounds Golf Course on 149 in Marstons Mills. John Morgan does a Happy Hour there on Saturday nights from 6-8 PM. Just like the old days…with an older crowd. Make you think you are back at the Crystal Palace!

    Alright, pimpin’ for JM.
    Looks like Spam but I remember Pufferbelllies, so it stays.

    ~m 

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  6. Have not been to Old Cape Cod since 1978. I used to vacation there with my family from the late 50’s to the late 70’s. A week or two here, a weekend there.
    You know how we used to do things with Mom & Dad back then?
    My wife had never been to The Cape so that was our honeymoon spot in 1974.
    My sister and her husband go there frequently with their pre-teen daughter.
    My kids have all grown up, and they have never been to The Cape.
    Sometime I think about returning, but then I think about all I’ve read and wonder if I shouldn’t just enjoy the reminiscing. Thanks, Cape, for the memories.

    Actually, you should go back. There’s still much of the old Cape left if you look hard enough.
    Yes, it has changed but when you’re standing on the shore watching the sunset in the bay, it all comes flooding back.
    Go to Baxter’s in Hyannis and grab a beer, a lobster and a sunset.
    Reminiscing is sooo over-rated.
    Thanks for the comment, W
    ~m

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  7. My wife and I try to get to the Cape every summer. And up until a few years ago (ok, so maybe 8 years ago) we always tried to find Thompsons Clam Bar again. I didn’t really know where to look, but once we found it – or it’s old location, I was bummed!
    It was the first time I was out to the Cape when I was in 10th grade. Went with my friend and his parents. First time I had steamers was at Thompsons. Got me hooked – on steamers and the Cape.
    It’s still a great place! That’s why we always end up back there even when we travel somewhere else – we always end up back to the Cape.

    Thompson’s was a great place. I spent many an hour there.
    I loved the fact that the seagulls could actually ‘steal’ your meal.
    And they had an awesome raw bar.
    Sometimes change sucks.
    Thanks for the comment, Doug.
    ~m

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  8. WOW .. John Morgan, the Mill HIll, Compass Lounge, Thompson’s Clambar, Pufferbellies. The memories come flooding back. I lived and worked in Hyannis in the early – mid 80’s and remember that area as a huge college summer spot. (i was in college myself). I’m always nostalgic for Cape Cod enough so that I have a little place in E. Orleans near Nauset beach. Further down the Cape you can still find “old cape cod”. Goose Hummock, The Binnacle, Land HO, The Yardarm, Wellfleet drive – in, etc … i remember them all as a kid and they are STILL there. The gentleman who alluded to his daughters getting sick of his reminiscing made me laugh cause when i do it i hear … “dad, we KNOW you love the cape” …

    You can still ‘find’ the old Cape. Which is nice.
    You do have to know where to look and what to look for though.
    I’ve never been the Well Fleet Drive-In but it sounds wild and very cool.
    Maybe this year.
    I’m going down in mid-July with the fam being the crazy bastard that I am.
    Yeah, I love traffic {NOT!}
    Thank God I know many shortcut backroads . . .
    Thanks for the comment, Todd
    ~m

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  9. I was a Cape Cod Happy Hour Junkie back in the 70’s! Myself and my college buddies every year would rent a seasonal summer cottage in Dennisport and a winter ski house in No. Conway, NH. And so went the migration for years….for many, the best years & times of our lives…many met their wives this way! Who could forget John Morgan, DJ Sullivan, Paul Wayne, Billy White….and don’t forget The Fabulous Farquar! Happy Hour’s were an “art form” destroyed by the drastic changes in the drinking laws….yes, tragic for a few but ruined wonderful times for the many…whatever happened to “personal responsibility?” Throughout my corporate career, I’ve had the luxury to travel and work in all 50 States and 33 countries…always seeking something similar to the Cape experience…if it exists, I’ve never found it….it’s a unique “geographical thing” we shared….take over 500 colleges and universities in a 50 mile radius of Boston add a couple hour drive north to the mountains or south to the beaches and you had the birth of the “Happy Hour”….they were very special times! Now I live in Phoenix….but plan to look up John Morgan in Marstons Mills later this year (thanks to that posting tip)…also understand he’s gone into the Hot Dog business, thanks for your website!

    I love comments such as this one and when readers “bring me back”
    Glad this post made you leave a comment, Charlie.
    If ever you do happen to find someplace similar to our beloved Cape, make sure you stop back and tell us, okay?
    Thanks for the comment, bud
    ~m

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  10. Down the Cape now in August 2007 and trying to find John Morgan. Can anyone let me know. Would appreciate it


    Check out Pufferbellies near Hyannis. (off Rt 28 going towards the airport)
    Not sure if the old guy is still playing these days.
    Let me know.
    ~m

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  11. I began playing on the Cape back in the middle 60’s in many, many bands and I too was saddened by how much the Miid-Cape had changed. I haven’t been to the upper Cape in some time but I am sure the same has happened there.
    I am a Musician/intertainer and remember the Cape as they say in the “HAY DAYS”……. “The Place Pigale” (Sandpiper Lounge), “Sandy Pond Club”, Mamie Reilye’s, The Velvet Hammer, to name just a few……….. I visited an old haunt the “Windjammer Lounge” and that too had changed. Didn’t pay much attention to the sign but I believe it is the Wiano Lounge now. Same inside though, even the same faces at the Bar. “Chuckie” always with something whitty to say or with a sports trivia question for anyone was still on the stick. (also a Capeism meaning running the draught tap.)

    I know that the “Swamp Fox” on Rte.132 has been gone for quite a while now, but I still feel a bit of anxiety when I go by that shopping center!
    I guess it’s true, “Everyone has a daughter and her name is nostalgia!”
    I miss all who remembers the fun we used to have at Dorsies Steak House, and the East End Pub, The Brass Rail…………..Someone stop me!
    I hope all my friend are happy and well,
    Michael “Action” Jackson istrum4u@cox.net drop me a line!

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  12. I worked on the Cape in the early 80’s Guido Murphy’s in the Back room. there was a bunch of small band acts Smitty, and others. I would hang out at he Mill Hill and Pufferbellies on my off night. I can remember as if it was yesterday John Morgan ” closing the doors” for a “private party ” on Sunday night knowing the drunks from south Boston would be back on the road any minute blasted out of the brains for a 70 mile ride back home. John would chant “let’s get shitfaced on Cape Cod ” with the cheers of 500 drunks. It was crazy back then.There was not a lot of social responsibility demonstrated by too many and eventually it did in the club scene on the Cape.

    I was working the Mill Hill back then.
    Remember DownEast?
    If not, I probably saw you at the Egg and I at 2:30 in the morning . . .
    I was the asshole ordering Eggs Benedict. Should have called them “Eggs Benedick” . . .
    Thanks for the comment, dude
    ~m

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  13. I was the one who put my footprints in wet cement at the Barefoot Trader on June 8th, 1957. The real Cape exists, but you have to go beyond Orleans to find it.

    I remember the footprints well.
    I wasn’t born until those footprints had dried for a few years.
    Great comment, R
    Thanks for stopping by.
    I still miss the “old” Cape.
    ~m

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  14. 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.

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  15. Thanks for tho 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 Tital 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 millionare 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 luckey people we were to live on the Cape in those days.

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  16. “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 onine! Keep the memories alive!

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  17. Was just down the Cape in August. Saw a sign that John Morgan was playing on Sunday’s at the Compass Rose/ Shanty Shack at the Bass River Marina. My nieces wondered why this brought a smile to my face. The family went to see him Sunday and my nieces, who John did his artful “pointing out” on in the crowd, now understand why just even seeing that John was playing was exciting. It brought back some of those great memories of Crystal Palace; North Country Fair; Pufferbellies; etc. Great Time !!!!!!

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  18. Does anyone know if John Morgan is still performing? If he is, I wonder if he would take his act on the road like he used to years ago in Plainville, CT! Need a good comedian/singer/performer for a benefit in Plainville, CT.

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  19. WOW!!
    I was just thinking about heading abck to Cape Cod this Sept with my wife & twin boys. Sad to hear all those great places are gone. Is the Irish Pub in Harwichport(?) still open?? I remember the “Orange Blossom special” was a big hot there (with the violin solo). And to hear that John Morgan is still around and occasionally playing. God those were great days!!!!

    And to think I survived it 🙂 We could use a few CapeCod Happy hours right know to lighten things up.

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  20. Working at Pufferbellies during the 80’s was a dream come true for a young DJ. I remember meeting John Morgan for coffee at Mr. Dohnut across from The Hyannis Airport. I told him that I wanted to work for him at Pufferbellies for $1000.00 a week. I told him I’d do 6 nights and 3 happy hours as well as all of his radio commercials. He laughed at me. He said he would call me in a few days to see if I wanted to work on Sunday nights after Happy Hour. I went home and told my sister that the meeting went well. No sooner did I walk through the door when the phone rang. It was John. He offered me $1000.00 a week, with a raise after July 4th to $1200.00. It was a lot of fun watching all of you drink like fish at Happy Hour. I met a lot of great people too. John is still around and even does an occasional H.H.. I’m still a DJ living in Canton, MA. Keep those Pufferbellies stories coming. Thanks for all of the great memories. Best wishes. Gary Titus http://www.djgarytitus.com / http://www.ItsTriviaTime.com

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  21. Cape Cod memories – crazy fun times! DJ Sullivan strumming and singing, “We’re Having A Party!” “Kit jumping up on a table at the Mill Hill Club to sing, Build Me Up Buttercup.” Money falling out of his pockets and his drinks spilling as he told the crowd, “I know how to have a good time.” And he did, we all did! Did anyone know at the time how special it was? Did it ever feel like the times would change or that this type of fun would end? Probably not. I don’t feel ready to move on. Does anyone know what DJ Sullivan is doing or what ever happened to him? I miss it all very much. I have checked you tube from time to time to see if any old movies or clips from DJ Sullivans’s shows would ever emerge? None to date.

    There is a another great happyhour entertainer that plays in MA, CT, NY, RI and VT if anyone is interested. His name is Bruce Jacques and has a website brucejacques.com if you wanted to see a clip of one of his shows or if you wanted his schedule. In the winter he sometimes plays at Mount Snow. During the year he plays all around usually drawing a pretty fun crowd. It not exactly the same but its a really good fun time too. Thank you to everyone for sharing your memories and thoughts of great times!

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  22. We got the bug again. Just spent a night in SOuthy with Jim Plunkett. Brought my wife, former gitrlfriend from Happy Hour days and 2 sons 23 and 20. They never heard of this kind of entertainment and NEVR sat down all night! They were dancin’ party fools.

    Now the question. Whre is DJ Sullivan? Anyone have a clue about his whereabouts?

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