Sunsets and Shooting Stars

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Fish tales and salty yarns

New author Rick Seidel recalls childhood vacations in Truro and how that transformed into an adult love affair with a place on Cape Cod.

Like so many residents and visitors of Cape Cod, author Rick Seidel, who has a new book on the racks, “Sunsets and Shooting Stars,” began his Cape odyssey when he was a youngster and the family trekked up from northeast- ern Pennsylvania for their annual two-week respite in Truro. Im- mediately collecting sand in his shoes, he was smitten with this little spit where a boy could be a boy, fish all day, hike the dunes and tempt fate with daring tricks instigated by an eager partner in the form of his brother Rob, with whom he remains close today.

Now a resident of Texas, Se- idel, a practicing gastroenterolo- gist, and his sibling are currently in the process of building a sum- mer home in Truro where they hope to continue the tradition of multi-generational family gather- ings. Catching up with Seidel as he was heading off to his in-laws’ south Texas ranch for a weekend of wild boar hunting, we got the scoop on why he wrote this mis- sive and just how strong the glue is that keeps his family tied to- gether.

“I don’t know why my fam- ily is so close,” he says of the tight union. “My brother lives in Los Angeles, my two sisters in Pennsyl- vania. Despite this, we talk weekly, and plan trips together often. Our summer vacations on Cape Cod have allowed our extended family to reunite year after year.”

In Seidel’s collection of Cape memoirs he details the adven- tures he shared with the men of the family on their frequent fish- ing expeditions aboard a water-logged albatross of a boat that served them fitfully but faithfully. He takes the reader back to sunny days spent at the beach and the dreaded stormy days when the skies refused to stop crying, the parents stubbornly trying to en- tertain the kids to no avail. Seidel shares stories of the big fish that got away, one soggy summer va- cation spent at a camp site rather than the usual cottage, a stinky squid incident that nearly drove off the neighbors, and his close call with death when his brother devilishly buried him up to his neck in heavy sand by the tideline as the surf was about to gobble up the shore. The stories are often poignant, all nostalgic, generally humorous and, in some instanc- es, very informative on the history of the area.

“Most of the history discussed is what I’ve learned from older friends and family over the years. I wanted the book to be very de- scriptive, reflecting the Cape’s natural, unspoiled beauty, along with a touch of history,” says Se- idel. “The specific details were obtained from the Provincetown Museum and Monument website, as well as other Internet sites. The book is essentially a collection of stories that we have created from 35 years of summer vacation memories on the Outer Cape. All involve my extended family of four generations.”

Each chapter is teased by a simple illustration rendered by Lana Emerson, a friend of Seidel’s wife, Melanie. “I gave her a list of simple things I thought represent the character of the Cape, for me, and she transferred those images into pencil sketches,” says Seidel. “Many of the sketches reflect what is discussed in the text.” A fun addition to the book is a collection of photographs at the back where the reader is privy to a bird’s eye view into the Seidel fam- ily life as documented by the cam- era. A photo of the decrepit truck used in the early days to transport the family north, the little boat hitched behind, and Seidel’s fa- ther standing proudly by gives the reader an idea of the parents’ determination to transport the family to the Cape by hook or by crook. Seidel’s grandfather kneel- ing on the beach surrounded by a half dozen bluefish at his feet, his sister hoisting a big one back in 1979, and his grandfather tackling the giant lobster that destroyed a cottage refrigerator —these pho- tographs all give the impression that this family not only had fun, but were smitten with the sport of fishing. Aunts, uncles, grand- children, cousins, grandparents, sisters, Seidel’s brother, we get to see all the people the author introduces us to in his memoirs that are sure to bring a touch of nostalgia to the forefront for any reader who has been a visitor to the Cape.

The book is a simple work writ- ten from the heart in an attempt to document Seidel’s experiences for his three children and trav- elers who might have enjoyed similar adventures. “I wrote this book initially for my family,” says Seidell. “I wanted to write an en- joyable book that would strike a chord in the reader who has nev- er been to this place but has expe- rienced similar family memories from their past.” That in mind, Seidell has achieved his goal.

© 2007 Rick Seidel, M.D.