Written by Julie and Gerry Goulet

Another typical Cape Codders Courageous Old Timers Rally! Temperature in the 70s! Bright sunshine! Colorful fall foliage! Wait, what’s typical about that?!? A Cape rally is usually cool and cloudy, if not raining, and the trees are barely budding. But over these last two years, the pandemic, as you know, has wreaked havoc with the events by which many of us mark the passage of the seasons. And the Old Timers Rally has been no exception. In 2020, for the first time since the initial event in 1951, a Cape rally was not held. For a while, it looked as if 2021 would be a casualty as well. Ultimately, the event was squeezed into October and 64 or so
intrepid souls were rewarded with a glorious day!

At 119.4 miles, this year’s event was the shortest since we agreed to be rallymasters (for a single year) back in 2014. While relatively short, the rally still featured some complexities that we assume contributed to three entrants not finishing. On the other hand, four cars succeeded in answering all 17 questions correctly and another three cars had the correct answer for 16 of the 17 questions. The winners of the Colbert Cup this year were Jessica McGillis and Richard Miller. Their achievement was particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that Richard had come straight to the rally after having worked the night shift in Boston, thereby confirming that a good night’s sleep was not a pre-requisite to puzzling out the clues.

Final Results

Because of the way the locations were situated, there were eight possible courses to follow to achieve the shortest distance (four circles and four figure eights), none of which offered an obvious advantage. Of the 26 cars that followed a rational course, no one elected to attempt three of the possible choices and only three cars—including the overall winner— followed a figure eight. Interestingly, the number of cars that began the day heading east (into the sun) equaled the number that proceeded in a westerly direction from the starting point.

Of the four top finishers, only the winner chose an eastern route. That course was as follows: 1) Dennis Pond in Yarmouth (finding it on the map was the hard part; there were four ponds with names of adjacent towns but only one of those towns (Dennis) was to the east of the pond); 2) the Jolly Whaler Complex marker in Brewster ( approaching the western intersection of Lower Rd. and Main St. from the west was clearly superior since the marker in question was quite obvious while the eastern intersection of those two roads caused cars coming from that direction to hunt around fruitlessly); 3) the excerpt from Massachusetts law at Rock Harbor (which was the reward to those who looked at the backs of signs as well as the obvious fronts); 4) the historical marker on the “long” Tonset Rd. in Orleans (this was more difficult to spot for cars going from west to east because it was on the driver’s side above eye level); 5) the Eldeia marker and Nauset Beach bench overlook; 6) the Seaside Cemetery in Chatham (the term “patterns” threw some people off on this one); 7)the Bank St. beach in Harwich; 8) the Medal of Honor monument in Dennisport (there was a map trick here that no one seemed to fall for); 9) the Rick Cannon remembrance in Yarmouth (this was easier to discern when approaching from the east);10) the stone marker at the Barnstable YMCA; 11) the Benjamin Nye mill site in Sandwich; 12) the cemetery in Bourne with a gravestone for someone buried in Connecticut (some missed the significance of an “arterial” in hunting this one down); 13) the Electric Avenue beach; 14) the various “Goulet” (all unrelated, to our knowledge) pavers near the Cape Cod Central Railroad Depot in Bourne; 15) the “Don’t feed the seag” sign above the Old Silver Beach snack bar;16) the silo at the River Bend Conservation Area in East Falmouth (approaching from the north rather than the south would have saved some time here) and 17) the BARS marker at the beach on Bridge St. in Osterville.

As expected, the Barnstable YMCA marker was found by all 28 cars that finished the event and the Sandwich mill site was found by all but one car which presumably ran out of time. At the other end of the spectrum, six of the locations were troublesome for at least ten entrants. The Tonset St. sign headed the list with sixteen cars failing to find it. Two late substitutes, Dennis Pond in Yarmouth and the Bridge St. beach in Osterville were the next most troublesome, followed by the sign at Old Silver Beach and the pavers near the Cape Cod Central Railway Depot in Bourne. The elusive nature of this last one was a big surprise to us. Not only did we try to make it clear in the general instructions that a clue from the regular map that did not also appear on a related detailed inset map was to be treated as if it did not exist (the word “Depot” did not appear on the inset map of Hyannis), but we also explicitly stated that no location was to be found in Hyannis. That really only left the Bourne depot as a possible location. Since most people found the other two Bourne locations, the failure to find the Bourne depot remains perplexing. We really wanted everyone to find that one, in particular, since we thought the coincidence of the Goulet name appearance was pretty amusing. Part of the problem appears to have stemmed from a misconception that “Cape Cod” only existed on the east side of the Cape Cod Canal. As the map (and reality) clearly indicated, Cape Cod is Barnstable County and Barnstable County (specifically, the towns of Bourne and Sagamore) straddles the Cape Cod Canal. To those who believed that the rally had never crossed the Canal before, we offer recent history. We crossed the bridges in 2014 and 2016 and, as our 2019 post-rally summary explained, we would have done so that year as well, but for the fact that construction on the Bourne Bridge caused a late rewrite of the entire rally. Moreover, in years when we don’t cross the bridges, we make that fact explicit in the general instructions.

Setting out in shorts and T shirt. The lack of a smile probably means they are starting without having found all the clues on the map.

Two of the locations were favorites that we had used before. We had last gone to the Bourne Cemetery in 1977, the third Old Timers rally, when we had used a different gravestone— the Charles Harris one that depicted a vintage sports car and car badges (now partially obscured by lichen). And some of you will remember Nauset Beach from April 14, 1984 (16 days after the picture on this year’s storyboard), when we required that year’s rallyists to walk the length of the beach to the stranded Eldeia to decipher the wording that appeared below the ship’s name on the stern. You all had it much easier this year than the rallyists from 37 years ago (before the Internet) who had to trudge through all that sand to get the answer! If you don’t believe us, ask Joe Caselli, Barbara Chartier (who was still Barbara Bagley back then), Bill Jecusco, Tracy Tupper and Mark Williams. They were all there in 1984 and again this year!

Just to show that the clues were no easier then, this was the wording for the Nauset Beach question in 1984:

“When you arrive at the Easternmost public bathing beach on the Cape, even the most unobservant among you will be bemused by the somewhat incongruous appearance of a clearly misplaced object on the sands. Wrap yourself warmly and set out on an invigorating trek for a closer look. The better time for getting such a look would be between the hours of 3 P. M. and 5 P.M. When you are reasonably close, you’ll discern two words on the rear of the object. What is the lower of the two?”

The answer was “Valletta”.

Little did we know, when we agreed to come back to design the 40th OTR, that we would still be serving in that capacity seven years later. Our history as rallymasters goes back a ways. We assisted Ken and Marsha Frausel, who designed the very first Old Timers Rally on the Cape to serve as an alternative to the Cape Codders Courageous TSD event on the occasion of the latter’s 25th anniversary. We then served as rallymasters for the next 10, for the 20th, and for the last seven. Of course, this last one felt like three since we had everything printed up when we were forced to cancel two weeks before the scheduled event in March of 2020. We then rewrote the rally to address changes that took place between March 2020 and March 2021. This turned out to be another false start because of COVID uncertainties in Massachusetts. (We actually came to the Cape on the weekend of April 10 and found a ghost town where the Cape had been.) While things abated sufficiently to permit the rally to be held in calendar year 2021, a third rewrite was required to address changes that occurred between March and September. As a result, of the 17 locations on this event, only 12 survived from our original design of March, 2020. Rewrites weren’t the biggest downside to this year’s event, however. The continuing uncertainties surrounding COVID, even as late as August, when decisions had to be made with respect to hotels and dinner arrangements, coupled with high season pricing at the types of venues to which we had become accustomed, compelled us to forego the traditional post-rally social gathering. For that, we are truly sorry.

Despite the setbacks of the last 18 months, our experience as rallymasters for this third trip around the block has been great fun. In particular, we have enjoyed the opportunity to renew acquaintances and friendships that go back to the mid-1970s and to continue to follow the lives of the children and grandchildren of those who participated in the OTR event during its first decade. We cannot think of a better group of people with whom Gerry could have celebrated his 70th birthday back in 2018!

In conclusion, we thank Jon Lamkins, who patiently kept us on the straight and narrow in running an SCCA event. We also thank AAA of Southern New England for the maps which helped or hindered your quest for a high finishing position. But, most of all, we thank you all for supporting this event and for encouraging us with your boundless enthusiasm. If anyone needs a picture of a location they were unable to find, please drop us an email and we’ll send it over. In the meantime, let’s all hope April of 2022 looks a lot like April of 2019 and you can all usher in Spring in the customary way once again.