“Scarry Jack” wasn’t scary. And he wasn’t Jack. Though Frank V. Crawley (1866-1968) had one of the most formidable nicknames in the Provincetown fishery, he was remembered warmly and widely throughout Cape Cod as the old fishmonger who drove a bright red former fire truck, gaily decorated with painted flowers and garlands painted on the cab, until he was 84 years old. Born in São Miguel in the Azores, Crawley arrived in Provincetown at the age of 17 and joined the fishermen of the Grand Banks fleet. An accident aboard a fishing boat left him with a visible scar on the back of his head, which is how he came to be known as Scarry. (Jack may simply have been a reference to him as a sailor.) In 1891, he wed Mary Joseph Rego (1872-1914), who was also a São Miguel native. She died in her early 40s. It was at about this time that Crawley gave up fish and took to selling fish, until 1950. His daughter Edna Crawley Lynch (1902-1992) owned 8 Central Street, where Scarry Jack spent his final years. “At his 100th birthday party, which he shared with his extended family and his faithful long-haired Chihuahua, Murphy, he received the compliments of the majority of the inhabitants of the town, and reluctantly acknowledged that he had passed into legend,” Clive Driver wrote in Looking Back (2004). The Crawley-Lynch family owned this house until 2015, when they sold it to Jason Potter Burda and his husband, Aaron Burda, of Providence. They had just finished renovating a 1900 house on the East Side of Providence into what The Providence Journal called a “stylish contemporary dwelling.”
¶ Last updated on 25 March 2018. ¶ Image courtesy of Salvador Vasques, My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection (Facebook), posted 10 November 2017.