Friday, August 19, 2016

Gene Krupa and his Orchestra (feat. Anita O'Day) – "Massachusetts" (1942)

How my heart will knock, Massachusetts
To see Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts
Want to roam around, Massachusetts
In Nantucket town, Massachusetts

I’ve been vacationing on Cape Cod for close to 40 years, but have never visited the island of Nantucket, which is about 30 miles south of the Cape.  

Since I’m at the age where I need to start doing things now rather than putting them off and assuming that I’ll be able to do them sometime in the indefinite future, I decided to visit Nantucket when I was on the Cape last month.

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision that was made late one evening.  There’s a high-speed ferry that transports passengers from Hyannis to Nantucket in only an hour, which made it reasonable to go over and back the same day.

So I crawled out of bed the next morning in time to get myself and my bicycle on the 8:15 am ferry.

After the ferry docked, I stopped at a local bike store for a map of Nantucket’s network of hiker-biker trails.  I decided to head west to Madaket Beach, which was about a seven-mile ride from the town of Nantucket.

Madaket was a nice beach if you’re into that sort of thing, but there wasn’t a lot to see on the ride there.

Madaket Beach
After a brief stop at Old North Cemetery (which I’ll have more to say about in a future 2 or 3 lines), I visited the Jethro Coffin House, the oldest house on Nantucket.  

It was built in 1686, a few years before Nantucket islanders began to hunt whales.

Jethro Coffin House (1686)
I saw this dead chicken on the Coffin House grounds:

That chicken wasn’t just dead – someone or something had f*cked it up.

Exactly what happened to the chicken is a mystery.  I’m guessing that a hawk snatched the chicken but then had to drop it because it had been too heavy for the hawk to carry very far.  

Of course, there’s an even bigger mystery here.  Who the hell is raising chickens on Nantucket, where the real estate is extremely pricey?

I next rode to Brant Point, which is home to a Coast Guard station and a lighthouse that guides ships safely into Nantucket’s harbor.     

The Brant Point lighthouse
Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world in the early 1800’s, and there’s a whaling museum in the town.  I ate a sandwich on a bench across the street from that museum, then headed east to ‘Sconset on the bike trail that parallels Milestone Road.

‘Sconset (which is short for Siasconset) is a small village on the eastern end of Nantucket.  (Putting an apostrophe in front of the abbreviated version of the village’s name is a big affectation, but I’m all about affectations.)

‘Sconset had quite a few precious little rose-covered cottages:

One ‘Sconset house featured a vertical sundial, which worked perfectly:

I stopped for a Cisco “Whale’s Tale” pale ale – which is brewed on Nantucket -- at an outdoor bar and restaurant, then hit the bike trail for the eight-mile return trip to the town.

My next stop was the Cisco microbrewery, which was a short ride south of the town.

A few of Cisco's beers
Cisco – which has a winery and a distillery as well as a brewery – was mobbed.  There were three or four food trucks on the premises, a band playing, and a guy making balloon animals for kids.

I had a Scotch ale and a “Grey Lady,” which is an unfiltered Belgian-style wheat beer made with herbs (including coriander and chamomile) that give it a somewhat floral character.

Then it was time to ride back to the Nantucket ferry dock, where I grabbed a slice of pizza and got in line for the 6:15 pm trip back to Hyannis.

My ferry departing from Nantucket
After disembarking in Hyannis, I headed for Spanky’s, a clam shack overlooking the harbor.  I grabbed a seat at the bar, devoured a huge order of fried clams and a Cape Cod Red amber ale, and struck up a conversation with four ladies from Minneapolis, who had spent the day sightseeing on Martha’s Vineyard.

It was obvious from the women’s accents that they were Minnesotans.  I told them that they sounded exactly like Marge Gunderson in Fargo, which seemed to rub them the wrong way.  (So much for my chances for a five some!)

Am I glad I went to Nantucket?  Yes.  Will I ever go back?  Probably not.  It was nice, but it didn’t really have anything that isn’t available on Cape Cod (except $3.57-per-gallon gasoline).

* *      * * *

Drummer Gene Krupa left Benny Goodman’s band in 1938 to form his own group.  He hired Anita O’Day to be his vocalist in 1941, and she recorded 34 sides with Krupa before his orchestra broke up in 1943.  (Krupa had been arrested for possession of two marijuana cigarettes and sentenced to 90 days in jail.)

A Krupa-O'Day compilation album
In addition to “Massachusetts,” O’Day also recorded “Georgia on My Mind” and “Just a Little Bit South of North Carolina.”  (As far as I know, she did not record “California, Here I Come,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” or “Tennessee Waltz.”)

Here’s “Massachusetts”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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