October 31 - 1938: Mary McCarthy and Edmund Wilson at Gull Pond

1991: Stranded whales freed. 1997: Spec house comeback
Mary McCarthy and Edmund Wilson.

1938: McCarthy & Wilson in Wellfleet

Two of America's most famous literary figures of the 20th century made Wellfleet and Gull Pond fairly famous. Here's an excerpt from an edition of the New York Review of Books on the couple and their life at Gull Pond.

At Gull Pond

When Mary McCarthy and Edmund Wilson, who married in 1938, were getting on well, they found each other mutually stimulating and, in the company of friends, they excelled at repartee, not argument. Although McCarthy had little good to say, either in interviews or in her own memoirs, about Wilson as a husband, she clearly benefited as a writer of fiction from his sustained encouragement and support. It seems that the couple agreed for the most part on political and literary matters, but were often at odds over things mundane. Wilson, by his own admission, tended to misbehave at precisely those times when they were getting along well.

Considering their marital difficulties, it is not surprising that Wilson made fewer entries in his journal during the years the marriage lasted. The passages dealing with Cape Cod nature are, however, of great interest to us...

Gull Pond May 21, 1942- The ladyslippers were out, sprinkled so sparsely around the brink of their solitary flowers-deepening in a couple of days from flimsy stooping ghosts as pale as Indian-pipe to a fleshy veined purplish pink swollen between pigtails and curling top-knot that also suggested Indians; and along the white sand of one side, where the bowl of the pond shelved so gradually, the little white violets with their lower lips finely lined as if with beards in purplish indelible ink, their long slim rhubarb-purplish stalks and their faint slightly acrid pansy smell, grew with thready roots in the damp sand; they were yellowish like ivory here, but on the opposite more marshy bank (with its round stones, its patches of red irony water, its shooting-box with a flock of square black and white decoys, its steeper banks, its dead gulls and fishes) their effect was not quite so dry and they showed a vivid white like trillium where they bloomed against the deeper and the more luxuriant green.

Read the rest of the review here.

1991: Eighteen stranded whales freed

On this day in 1991 rescuers worked to free 18 stranded pilot whales that ran aground a daily earlier on Fisher Beach in Truro in 1991. All 18 were successfully herded into deep water at high tide and all apparently survived.

Whales have been stranding on our shores since for as long as residents remember. Below is a woodcut of a stranding in 1884.

1997: "Spec houses back in season"

In 1997, an article in the New York Times proclaimed that spec houses were "back in season." The article began:

In 1989, Carol Konner was burned -- and burned badly. ''I lost $8 million and went broke,'' said Ms. Konner, a tough-talking 60-year-old developer who was a major player in the Hamptons building boom of the late 80's -- and who finally has started to build again.

Last year at this time, Ms. Konner was either planning or building four houses. This year, she is actively working on 26, including a 100-acre subdivision in Bridgehampton, L.I., called Rolling Hills.

Ms. Konner builds ''spec'' houses primarily for weekenders or summer residents, and that type of construction, in the words of a contractor in Nantucket, Mass., had been ''dead, dead, dead'' ever since the late 80's.

Read the full story here.


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