The Shell Shop in Provincetown, MA had just what Michael was looking for: Great Screw Shells at reasonable prices. He bought a dozen. Dana liked this shop much more than the one in Florida. It smelled good, was well lit and breezy.
Provincetown is a thickly settled, historic, maritime community bordering Provincetown Harbor. It hosts a large population of Portuguese fishing families that have lived and worked there for many generations. It was also once home to a bohemian chef, named Howard Mitchum, who wrote the ‘Provincetown Seafood Cookbook’. Dana wanted to find out more about him from the locals, for an article she was writing about him.
They spoke with the owner of a small book store that carried a few of his books. He told Dana that the deaf/mute cook had been quite the character in Provincetown and that the staff at his favorite drinking establishment, ‘Ye Old Colony’, might be able to provide her with more information.
The letter ‘Y’ had fallen off the word ‘Colony’ over the entrance way into the old and decrepit pub. An empty row of hard stools hugged the bar. They ordered two beers from the bartender and asked if she had known Howard Mitchum.
The bartender said she had worked there for over fifteen years and was well acquainted with Howard, before he passed away, ten years ago. She proudly pointed to the window booth he held nightly court at and plied them with colorful stories. The most controversial one concerned his well attended memorial party, which was held at the pub shortly after his death.
She confided, or perhaps confessed, that Howard’s daughter and she had carried out his final wish that day: they surreptitiously mixed his cremated ashes into a large bowl of French Onion dip, set out on the tabletop of his favorite booth for all of his guests to enjoy.
Was Howard Mitchum’s last act on earth artistic licence, sheer devilry or a contrivance? I don’t know. If it was true he must have felt it was a fitting end for a chef to be consumed by his dearest friends. In life he enjoyed creating new and exotic dishes. Why not also after death?