A few tears when the marquee arrived in town


June 6, 1878

The circus

The day announced for the performance in Provincetown last Friday, the 31st instant, was ushered in by a gale from the east and a heavy rain storm. The Circus was four or five hours late arriving in Hyannis the day before, only giving an evening show, thus disappointing a large number of spectators from below Yarmouth, who were forced to return by the evening train .

The storm was so severe that they gave up on reaching Provincetown in time by their steamer, so they chartered a special train, arriving with their tent gear at 3:15 a.m. Friday morning. The storm continued all day and Mr. Murray, the owner, rescheduled his show for Saturday afternoon and evening.

At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the golden float containing the circus band, drawn by ten fancy horses, paraded through the city. A large crowd gathered around the gigantic tent at half past one to see the tightrope performance. When transferring from the steamer to the cars, the thread was accidentally forgotten. The crowd was vocal in its denunciation of the managers for not giving them value for money.

The performance, what was left of it, was very fair. An audience of 600 people in the afternoon and 956 in the evening allowed officials to free themselves from the additional expenses caused by the storm, and a good margin. The children were disappointed not to see the ponies. . . .

A more orderly company has never visited our city. An absence of all profanity and drunkenness was particularly notable. . . .

June 7, 1934

Com. MacMillan starts north

The Bowdoin, with her skipper, Commander Donald B. MacMillan, at the wheel, left the local port at 8 a.m. Monday morning, bound for Boston on the first leg of her voyage on what is officially known as the Bowdoin- Macmillan Expedition.

Remaining a few days at the Charlestown Navy Yard for supplies, it will then proceed to Portland, where scientists and graduates from several New England colleges and universities will embark. Then her bow will head north with the aim of providing expedition members with the opportunity to collect scientific data on the Button Islands and inland Baffinland. For the famous MacMillan it will be just another trip to the Arctic, but for others it will be an event filled with pleasant surprises and golden adventures. . . .

June 3, 1965

Kennedy Memorial linked to Truro

Anyone who has been able to observe the young man photographing 18th century tombstones in the Old North Cemetery recently has seen a stonemason, letterer and calligrapher (calligraphy, the dictionary says, is the craft of “writing beautifully”) employed by the former American firm chosen to engrave the words on the memorial to the late President John Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.

John Hegnauer, son of Dr and Mrs Albert Hegnauer of Great Hills Road and Newton Highlands, works for the John Stevens Shop in Newport, RI, which since 1705 has inscribed tablets. He engraved the inscription at Rockefeller Center, NY, for that matter, and in the lobby of the new Prudential Center tower in Boston. The Stevens Shop is considered the oldest business in the country with an unbroken tradition of hand carving stone.

John Hegnauer and his employer, John Benson, now head of the Newport firm, work on the Kennedy Memorial lettering proposals. The Newport Bensons, incidentally, who run the shop – John Benson and his mother, Mrs. John Howard Benson – are the immediate successors of the Stevens family who have operated it since its inception. The late John Howard Benson purchased it in 1927 from the Stevens family.

The Kennedy family is considering several plans for the memorial sculpture. These range from carving the entirety of the late president’s inaugural address on the granite wall currently under construction near Kennedy’s tomb, to inscribing five to eight full quotes from the president’s speech on it.

The words will be engraved on the top surface of the six-foot-thick, elliptical-shaped wall approximately 75 feet long. Visitors to the Kennedy Shrine will reach it by a stone walkway and steps overlooking the patio-like enclosure holding up the wall.

If the Kennedy family decides to have the entire inaugural address engraved on granite, it will require the work of two men for a full year, says John Hegnauer. If five to eight quotes are used, it will take “between four and six months”.

John Hegnauer worked with the Newport firm while on vacation while at Northeastern University. He joined it over a year ago. John, his wife, Pat, and their baby girl, Rachel, were recently in Truro for the weekend with John’s parents. The old tombstones of Truro interested the young stone engraver because he considered them to be fine examples of early American work. “These old stonemasons,” he says, “have developed a high degree of sophistication.”

Once the lettering is designed and spaced, today’s hand cutter works with a hammer and chisel, like the lettering of yore. This is the ancient Roman technique seen on ancient tablets. The words carved into the Kennedy memorial, John says, will last at least as long as the colonial stones. . . .


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