Remembrances of Leavitt Crowell, Part 4
By Kaethe Maguire
This is a continuation of some of Leavitt Crowell’s remembrances of growing up in Sandwich in the 1920’s and 1930’s as written to his cousin, Carolyn Crowell, in the 1990’s.
After leaving Sandwich post High School graduation from the Wing School in 1940, I do not know how many times the well-educated Leavitt returned to Sandwich, but each time he did he had a hard time adjusting to the changes to the village as he had known it as a place of 800 people.
He recalled that Town Neck, until 1932 when the Town tried to sell lots to raise money during the Depression, was just a pasture and a place to catch gold fish (carp) in an old clay pit. Not a house or a restaurant could be seen for miles. I do not think even a cottage appeared on Town Neck until the late 1940’s.
Of course these open places with hilly fields made a wonderful place for sledding. Leavitt speaks of his favorite as Atkin’s Hill with no houses where he could slide right down onto Mill Pond, frozen of course. On a good day he
could coast over the snow on the Pond at Cemetery Point right into town. Other favorite spots are now covered with houses: Gavonie’s Hill, Elephants’ Back and Tudor’s Pasture.
Leavitt speaks of the old narrow rutted wood roads that were a teenager’s escape in an old rust bucket car. People would dump cars in these woods off the old roads and just leave them there. These left-over unregistered cars were ripe fruit to the local teenage boys.
Leavitt had a 1923 Essex that he bought for $5. So evidently, he did not take his first car from the leftovers in the woods. He reports that gas was $.15 cents a gallon and you could get an inner tube at Mark Ellis’ junk yard for $.25 cents less two cents for every patch.
Photo and illustration of the 1923 Ford Essex
Needless to say these illegal cars and illegal drivers kept to the old wood roads. This was how kids learned to drive. If they really wanted better roads, they headed to Kiah’s way out in East Sandwich. But this was risky. One of Leavitt’s friends had been caught by the Highway Patrol and had his car confiscated. This was a big blow to a teenage boy.
One night while traveling over Kiah’s Way around a bend Leavitt saw the unmistakable gleam of a car in the moon light and thought it might be Highway Patrol. He was at the point where the wood road enters Kiah’s Way. He turned back into the woods with the Patrol car, obviously unfamiliar with the rabbit warren of roads, far behind him.
Fortunately, the old Essex had a lot of ground clearance and there was a swampy place known as Polly’s Puddle that the Essex could barely navigate. Leavitt then went home and went to bed.
Soon there was a knock on their door. It was a very muddy Patrolman who asked Leavitt’s father, Lincoln Crowell, to use his phone. He said he had been chasing a bunch of kids in an old car who had led him through a mud hole and he was stuck. Lincoln said he would call his brother David and borrow his tractor and he and his son would pull him out.
The Essex happened to be parked near the Tractor. The radiator was warm and there was water dripping off of it. The patrolman felt the radiator, never said a word when Leavitt and his father went and pulled him out of the mud hole with the tractor.
His parting remark as he drove away was “Please stay off Kiah’s Way.”
Then and now photos of the wooded road at the end of Kiah's Way
Typical Fire Tower on Cape Cod in the 1930s.