Music and Memories

A Ride Through Nantucket on a December night before a nor’easter, 1992

We lived on the outskirts of town, at 54 Old South Road. The apartment was above a now defunct plumbing supply store called R.B. Corcoran. One entered our place and ascended a flight of stairs and turned to the right. There it was; the old place. You entered the kitchen first and noticed the ugly floor tiles that must’ve been popular in 1982 when the place was built. There was a wide opening into the TV room. The couch sat along the wall under the windows. Right next to the television was my dad’s Kenwood stereo. This stereo was on 24/7 and usually tuned to WNTX which sat at 96.3 FM. The station was licensed to Nantucket back then and was our hometown pride. The tower was off Massasoit Bridge Road and the STL dish was pointed to the studios on Barnstable Road in Hyannis. In later years, the tower was moved to the dump and eventually off island forever.

My room was down a short hall that contained the laundry machines and the bathroom. My room was painted white. I can still remember the American flag blanket and sheets. My room overlooked the “yard” which was a paved parking area and the different garage bays for R.B.’s business. My parents room branched off the TV room and was big, but not a master suite. I can still remember the potted tree we had, I think it was a fichus tree. Stairs led down to the “back entrance” of the store. I can still remember the toilet display and the PVC pipes. Every morning I’d hear the guys talking downstairs. Probably having coffee and the like. Enough about the store, let’s take a ride, downtown shall we?

I picked the winter time, when the Christmas trees were still up along Main and Centre Streets. We enter town from Washington Street. Gee, it sure is dead down here, save for the locals doing their shopping at the stores. We pass the A&P and head across Main Street onto Easy Street. This street takes us along the harbor. One can see the Steamship Authority’s wharf lit up like a Christmas tree with all the LP sodium and mercury vapor bulbs. The boat’s not in, let’s drive on the wharf. The new 1983 ticket office stands proud, its doors open and the agents are inside. We’re stopping here to get tickets, at least dad is. We leave the ticket office and head down the wharf. We bang a right onto South Beach Street and head over towards the Coast Guard station. Brant Point is shining its red beacon. At this point, Desmond Child’s Love on a Rooftop is playing.

Heading back, we hit the Children’s Beach area and turn onto South Beach Street once more. Now we head up Broad Street and turn left onto South Water and finally up to Main Street. The trees, bounce in the wind on this windy December night. “A nor’easter is coming” dad says to himself. He chuckles and knows that his son will be up because of the shrieking wind (our apartment faced N-NE and would get loud in any coastal storm event) Oh well, it’s his mother’s problem. We turn up Orange Street and head out of downtown. We pass the slumbering Nantucket Bake Shop at the corner of Dover and Orange. Christmas lights adorn the windows. Right now, Gloria Estefan’s Live for Loving You is on the radio. Rain begins to patter on the windshield and the grey truck’s wipers come on. After passing through the rotary, we hear Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox.

Now, of course, we turn right onto Fairgrounds Road and follow it to Surfside Road; passing The Pines restaurant as we do so. At Surfside, we turn left and follow it a short distance to a street called Boulevarde. We take it down to Lover’s Lane and turn left. Hey, Michael Bolton’s cover of Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman is on the radio now (I reviewed him already.) It’s pouring now and ahead is the mercury vapor bulb known as “The Purple Light” Curtis Stigers comes on the radio with his song I Wonder Why. We park in the lot in the front and head inside.

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