RE/MAX Long Point | Building 1.
Though it now frames a real estate office, that deep porch may conjure images for you of the archetypal country store. It certainly does for longtime residents, because this was the Country Store — “A Little Bit of a Lotta Things” — run by Judith A. Carreiro (1939-2017) and her husband, Ernest L. Carreiro Jr. His father, Ernest L. Carreiro Sr. (1908-1961), founded the Tip for Tops’n restaurant, 31 Bradford Street. As fondly as the Country Store is recalled, this building’s lineage and history runs far deeper.
Because the large, irregularly shaped parcel at No. 139 once belonged to the Smith family, I believe this may have been the location of David Smith’s grocery store. In the 1886 town directory, Smith described himself as a grocer and commission merchant dealing in “fruit, flour, corn, coarse and fine meal, oats, fine feed, shorts [a milling byproduct of bran, germ, flour, and tailings], wheat, screenings [a milling byproduct of dust, chaff, weed seeds, broken grains, and unsound grains], fine middlings [a milling byproduct of bran, shorts, germ, flour, and tailings], cracked corn, hay, et cetera,” as well as in fresh, dry, and pickled fish. Smith gave his address as 136 Commercial. At that time, even-numbered addresses were on the shore side of Commercial Street. (They are now on the upland side.) So this building might well have been No. 136. Further circumstantial evidence comes from the 1901 town directory, which lists the Charles B. Smith Company — “groceries, hay, grain, and flour” — at “Commercial, opp. Pleasant.” A grocer named Fred W. Smith is also listed here in 1901.
In 1886, when this advertisement appeared, the even house numbers on Commercial Street were along the shore side, while the odd numbers were upland. A copy of this town directory is on the Provincetown History Preservation Project website, Page 171.
Presumably, Fred W. Smith was one and the same as Frederick W. Smith, who sold the property in 1907 to Capt. Manuel Costa (1849-1912), native of São Miguel in the Azores; husband of Jacintha “Jessie” (Cabral) Costa (1857-1926); co-owner, with Leandro J. Costa, of the L. J. & M. Costa grocery and provisioning business in East Boston; and skipper of the schooner Jessie Costa (also given as Jesse Costa), the loser of the 1907 Fisherman’s Race, in which Rose Dorothea famously triumphed. Among the Costas’ children were Jessie (Costa) Grainger (±1883-1946). I assume young Miss Costa was the namesake of the schooner, rather than Mrs. Costa. Another daughter, Rose Elizabeth (Costa) Grace (1881-1965), was the mother of the lovely Jessica (Grace) Lema (1911-2012), who lived until her 100th year at 10 Cudworth Street. She recalled her grandparents’ Provincetown home as having had a “big veranda at the back and a beautiful view of the harbor.”¹
This thrilling photo shows Jessie Costa in the foreground and Rose Dorothea in the near distance, during their 1907 duel for the Lipton Cup. “Fishing smacks (i.e. schooners), just after the finish, first Fishermen’s Race,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID No. det.4a18826.
Left: Capt. Manuel Costa (1849-1912), from the collection of Jessica (Lema) Clark, his great-granddaughter, published in the Provincetown Portuguese Festival 2009 booklet, Page 36. Right: Frank Aresta in 1957. Reproduction of the article “Cape Tip’s Oldest Lobster Fisherman Retires,” in the Provincetown Portuguese Festival 2009 booklet, Page 26.
Jessie Costa was built at the Tarr & James yard in Essex in 1905 to designs by Thomas F. McManus, as was Rose Dorothea. Both boats represented Provincetown in the 1907 Fisherman’s Race. Jessie Costa finished the 39-mile course in a most respectable 5 hours, 8 minutes, and 8 seconds. But Rose Dorothea was 2 minutes amd 34 seconds ahead. David W. Simpson of Boston owned Jessie Costa when she was lost in January 1917, on her way to St. John’s, Newfoundland, with eight men aboard and a cargo of general freight.
August 1907 must have been one of the more eventful months of Manuel Costa’s life. His deed to 139 Commercial Street was recorded on the 12th, just 11 days after the race. Perhaps this splendid property consoled him a bit in his loss. Unhappily, during the Great Depression, the Costa family lost the property when the Seamen’s Savings Bank foreclosed on the mortgage. The buyer, Margaret T. Bates, lost the property to foreclosure in 1935.
That’s when 139 Commercial came into the hands of the Aresta-Carreiro clan: Frank Souza Aresta (1882-1970); his wife, Maria Henrequeta “Mary” (Medeiros) Aresta (±1886-1962); their daughter, Mary Isabella (Souza) Carreiro (1905-2000); and her husband, Ernest L. Carreiro Sr. (1908-1961).² Frank Aresta was born in São Miguel, as was his future wife, whom he met in Provincetown. At the age of 20, he stowed away aboard Julia II, Capt. John Davis. When he was found out, Captain Davis demanded $30 (roughly $875 today) for Aresta’s passage to America. The young man’s hide was saved by “old Captain Caton of Provincetown” (presumably a reference to Capt. Manuel Caton of Philomena Manta), who said he would pay the money to Captain Davis. That seemed to be the end of the matter, until Aresta returned $125 richer from a five-month fishing trip to the Grand Banks. He approached Captain Caton to reimburse him.
“Well, my boy, I never did give Captain Davis that $30, but if you want me to send it now to Lisbon, I will. If you don’t, forget about it. Haven’t you a mother in the old country?”
“I have. And they live poor there.”
“Well, you send the $30 to your mother.”
Aresta shipped both on Rose Dorothea and Jessie Costa. But in 1914, he bought a lobster boat and he spent the next 43 years lobstering. “Summer visitors and townspeople … for years have beat a path to the door of Frank Aresta in the West End to buy his lobsters,” a news account stated in 1957, when he retired on his 75th birthday. The acquisition of 139 Commercial was tremendously meaningful for Aresta. “I never thought when I was crew with Captain Costa that I’d ever own and live in his house,” he said. In 1948, he launched a new lobster boat, Ruth Ann, named for his granddaughter, Ruth Ann (Carreiro) Silva. When asked in 1957 what would keep him busy in retirement, he mentioned “taking care of his cottages” in back of the main house.
Not everyone was welcome around the cottages, as Neva Cook recalled. “Frank Aresta was … ‘Crabby Appleton’ to us kids,” she said in a thread on Facebook in 2019. “We would spend hours in the water as young kids and when we wanted to warm up we would lay down in the sand in between Flyer’s and the Aresta cottages, close to my grandmother’s property. The blacker the sand, the warmer we would get. This meant creeping up on the Aresta property, and Mr. Aresta would come out with a very large stick, chasing us down the beach, as he didn’t want us on his property.”³
The Arestas’ son-in-law, Ernest Carreiro Sr., had also come to this country from São Miguel, though he landed at New Bedford, where he spent his teens. In Provincetown, he married the Arestas’ daughter, Mary Isabella. Carreiro operated Anybody’s Market at 31 Bradford Street, before converting it to the much-loved restaurant, Tip for Tops’n — Tip of the Cape for Tops in Service, which endured until 2012.
Frank Aresta’s retirement did not stop customers from coming to 139 Commercial, after the Carreiros’ son, Ernest Jr., and his wife, Judith, opened the Country Store.
Ernest worked as a teacher and administrator at Provincetown High School and its vocational annex. When this article was posted in February 2019, former students responded effusively and warmly on Facebook. “In his architect drawing class, I learned how to draw building plans, and have used that skill to build three homes,” Sandy Cook Silva said.³ “Had a good time in his shop,” Francis John “Grassy” Santos said. “Learned a lot!”⁵
“He was very good to me in my punky youth,” Paul DeSilva said.⁵ Bernie Dickinson concurred: “Mr. Carreiro was a great guy. Anyways, fair to me when he was principal at Veterans’ Memorial Middle School, not to mention when he caught me trying to under-age purchase beer at Perry’s.”⁵
“The very best,” Christopher Snow added. “Past president of Monument, chair of Seamen’s Bank, and civic-mindedly serving our community with humility, integrity, and distinction in countless ways.”⁵
As its name suggested, the Country Store was an omnium-gatherum kind of emporium: “A bit of this and that, complete with potbelly stove,” said The Complete Food Guide to Provincetown in 1976. “Home-baked goodies, Portuguese favas, and kale soup.” A hand-lettered sign on the door read: “Yes, we have soda, juice, milk, cigarettes, hot coffee, papers, baked goodies, Portuguese bread.” But that wasn’t all. The store sold fabrics, yarn, crafts, notions, sundries, and handmade children’s clothing; penny candies and Pittsburgh paints.
The Country Store actually looked like a country store. Photo on the left is from the 1986 Long Pointer in the School Collection on the Provincetown History Preservation Project website, Page 5698. Photo on the right was reproduced in the Provincetown Portuguese Festival 2009 booklet, Page 29.
Judith A. Carreiro (1939-2017) with “Madame Chill,” a snow-woman that she preserved in the freezer so that it could salute the Fourth of July parade. Photo posted by Fred Pappalardo in My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook, 5 December 2018.
Besides running the Country Store with his wife, Ernest Carreiro Jr. worked at Provincetown High School, as administrative assistant (in 1971 at left) and as director of the industrial arts program, successor to the Vocational School (in 1969 at right, with a young Joseph “Joey” White). The 1969 and 1971 Long Pointers are in the School Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project website, on Page 5582 and Page 5583, respectively.
The last days of the Country Store, from the Provincetown Historic Survey archive.
“Felt like home,” Jennifer Cabral said on Facebook.³ Ari Springer added: “I would stop by on the way to school and pick up a hermit cookie for the afternoon. There was a little table by the wood stove that people would be sitting at, enjoying their morning coffee.”³
“When we started out with our gallery at 120 Commercial Street, the Country Store was everything in our neighborhood,” Robert Clibbon wrote on Facebook, “from Judy’s wonderful cranberry bread, to anything in hardware you could squeeze in a small store, as well as the warmth of their potbelly stove on a cold day. Ernie … mixed that great Pittsburgh paint in the basement, as well as approved my mortgage at Seamen’s Bank. Their kids — Laurence, Stephen, and Robin — worked as teenagers in most aspects of their business, and when the Carreiros bought Perry’s Liquors down the street, the teenagers trekked ice, et cetera, between the stores. As newcomers, they always made us feel part of Provincetown.”³
“Ernie’s mother made Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls,” Lauren Richmond recalled in another Facebook thread. “I still have mine.”⁴ Fred Pappalardo remembered Judy Carreiro saving a snow-woman named “Madame Chill” in the freezer for months so that she could place the figure on the store porch to salute the Fourth of July parade.
“When I first started waiting on tables so many years ago,” Steven Roderick said, “I bought my first waiter’s apron from Mrs. Carreiro. She made them herself and they were made to last.”³
The Carreiros owned 139 Commercial until 2000, when they sold the property to Jay C. Anderson of Los Angeles for $1.3 million. Anderson’s father, Joseph Anderson, was a rancher and farmer in North Dakota who was dissatisfied with the machines available in the 1960s for grinding hay to be fed to livestock. He built a tub grinder that proved to be a hit, paving the way to the founding of the Haybuster Manufacturing Company, headquartered first in Minot, then Jamestown, where it grew into a 46-acre operation. Beginning with hay processing and handling equipment, the company diversified into other agricultural machinery, renaming itself DuraTech Industries International along the way. Jay Anderson took over the company after his father’s death in 1991.
In 2000, the new owner of 139 Commercial Street undertook a dramatic reconstruction of the building. From the Provincetown Historic Survey archive.
Left: Edmund V. Gillon Jr. photographed 141 and 139 Commercial Street for his 1986 book, Provincetown Discovered. Posted by Salvador R. Vasques III in My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection on Facebook, 19 June 2016. Right: A 2018 photo by David W. Dunlap shows how fundamentally the 139 Commercial Street facade was changed.
The new porch. David W. Dunlap (2008).
Left: Beachfront Realty took over the space once occupied by the Country Store. David W. Dunlap (2014). Right: The waterfront facade of 139 Commercial Street. David W. Dunlap (2009).
139 Commercial Street in 2009. David W. Dunlap.
Anderson has been busy as a developer and condo converter in Provincetown. Among his projects are 19 Center Street, with Robert A. O’Malley of Beachfront Realty; 21 Center Street, also with O’Malley; the Prince Freeman Westend Waterfront Compound, at 51-53 Commercial Street; and the former Adam Peck Gallery, at 137 Commercial Street, abutting this property.
At 139 Commercial, Anderson lost no time proposing a substantial recreation of the main house, to plans by Krueger Associates of Cambridge, which also worked on the Center Street projects. Most obvious were the addition of a second-floor porch and enormous arched dormers on either side of the building, increasing the degree to which the structure did not conform to current zoning rules. But the Zoning Board of Appeals determined in May 2000 that the dormers “would cause no adverse effects to the town or neighborhood,” and in July 2000 reached a similar conclusion about the new porch. In both cases, special permits were granted unanimously. The Snow family, longtime abutters at 141 Commercial Street, sued the zoning board on the dormer issue. That litigation ended in 2003.
After the renovation, the former Country Store space was occupied by Beachfront Realty, owned by O’Malley. More recently, it has been the office of RE/MAX Long Point, owned by the real estate broker Greg Russo. I doubt that you can still get Raggedy Ann dolls there.
¶ Last updated on 10 February 2019.
139 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 139 Commercial Street:
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2010, by David W. Dunlap.
For further reading online
• Frank Souza Aresta (1882-1970)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 162733806.
• Maria Henrequeta “Mary” (Medeiros) Aresta (±1886-1962)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 128340623.
• Ernest L. Carreiro Sr. (1908-1961)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 128671152.
• Mary Isabella (Souza) Carreiro (1905-2000)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 162733554.
• Beachfront Realty.
• DuraTech Industries.
• Krueger Associates
• RE/MAX Long Point
¹ “Nana and Poppy: A Provincetown Love Story,” researched and written by Jessica (Lema) Clark, based on narration by Jessica (Grace) Lema and Joseph Lema Jr.; “Searching for a Past: The Azores Connection,” by Jessica (Lema) Clark, in the Provincetown Portuguese Festival 2009 booklet, Page 35.
² “Cape Tip’s Oldest Lobster Fisherman Retires,” reproduction of an August 1957 news article in the Provincetown Portuguese Fastival 2009 booklet, Page 27.
³ Comments in a thread from Facebook, My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection, begun 6 February 2019.
⁴ Comments in a thread from Facebook, My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection, begun 4 December 2018.
⁵ Comments in a thread from Facebook, My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection, begun 8 February 2019.