“I have seen the splintered timbers of a hundred shattered hulls,

Known the silence of the granite and the screeching of the gulls.

I’ve heard the crazy widow Cather walk the harbor as she raves

At the endless rolling whisper of the waves.”

– from the song DogTown

by Harry Chapin

What powerful writing !

If I listened to that song once there in Wessels Hall, my dorm at Rutgers, then I listened to it a hundred times. Nay, two hundred.

My roommates were equally as spellbound by Chapin’s compelling lyrics. Now when we gather, some 49 years later (gulp), we still sing DogTown lyrics.

” I’m standing on this craggy cliff, my eyes fixed on the sea.

Six months past when his ship was due. I am a widow to be.”

The words of a song are an admittedly odd motivation to pack up the bag and take a road trip. Apparently we had listened to the tune just enough times to venture a journey up there.

Just where is there? Again, Chapin’s lyrics best explain:

“Up in Massachusetts There’s a little spit of land. The men who make the maps, yes, they call the place Cape Ann.

The men who do the fishing call it Gloucester Harbor Sound, but the women who stay home waiting , they call the place DogTown.

So, not knowing exactly what to expect, up we drove to the nearly northeastern most tip of Massachusetts. A bit of philosophy must be engendered in one’s soul to thus travel. It’s simple. Even if the place is a complete bust, it’s still a part of America never seen before.

Unless it is destitute, boondoggle and bereft, maybe a good time is to be had. Maybe America’s beauty will shine through.

Our eyes were wide open as we pulled into DogTown, more respectfully, Cape Ann.

What a gem ! What an understated piece of Americana , rapt by a whaling history that, surely, is told by the endless rolling whisper of the waves. Indeed, what a tribute to the waiting women who soon learned of more than one way to drown.

More than one monument about town commemorates the men and women of a storied whaling village, a trip so worth it. We were beyond entertained; not the first time we’d taken a trip inspired by song.

Are there other journeys out there streaming from the lyrical realm ? Perhaps, if we can maintain our quizzical approach to road trips. There’s always Lukenbach, Texas. Maybe Tallahatchie, Mississippi.

Oh, Boy ! Both will take some convincing to get Judy on board!


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