2020 Commercial 083 DxO


West End Racing Children’s Community Sailing.

This admirable institution was known until 2017 as the West End Racing Club, which sounds like a place whose members dress in commodores’ outfits. That couldn’t have been further from the case. It’s a nonprofit group begun at Flyer’s Beach in 1950 that teaches children to swim and sail. One startling fact that propelled its founding: many fishermen did not know how to swim. The hope was to improve their chances of survival in the unlikely event of a sinking or the much likelier event of falling overboard. Among the organizers were Joseph Andrews, Will Hurlburt, George Fillmore Miller Jr., Lawrence Richmond, Francis Rogers, Francis “Flyer” Santos, and Richard Santos. Their shoreline clubhouse was finished and dedicated in 1957 on the site of Mary Bicknell’s Wharf Theater. Inside, signal flags on a beam, painted by a young Amy Whorf McGuiggan, still read, “Welcome to the WERC.” In other words:

2020 Commercial 83 Gallery Signal Flags copy

For a view of Myrick Atwood’s Wharf, please see 83 Commercial Street.

For a view of the Wharf Players Theater, please see 83 Commercial Street.

¶ Adapted from Building Provincetown (2015).

Amy Whorf McGuiggan wrote on 24 February 2014: I am always amazed to see that the “artwork” at the club still exists after all these years. I painted the signal flags on the rafter, and the doors — “Gulls” and “Buoys” — on a rainy day back in 1972. I also painted a large compass rose on the floor but it didn’t last long given our always wet, salty and sandy feet. As anyone can see, the paintings are proof of what my Dad used to like to call the “myth” of the artistic gene. My grandfather [John Whorf] would have wondered where it all went wrong. By the way, the flags on the rafter spell out: Welcome to the WERC. Our Skipper back in those days was Tommy Dahill (see 51 Commercial Street). The WERC was (and still is) a wonderful place for all the kids and remains a tribute to Flyer and the other gentlemen who made the harbor accessible to us all.

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