Preserving Cape Cod — Monument to a Friend

We recently returned from a refreshing trip to Boston for a neighbor’s wedding and a five-day stay on Cape Cod, hosted by Connie’s cousin and lifelong friend Carol. After we attended a festive and near-perfect wedding celebration and made a visit to the three-masted schooner, U.S. Constitution, popularly known as “Old Ironsides,” Carol picked us up at our hotel in Newton. She drove us to her lovely vacation home near Cape Cod Bay in Dennis. It was a nostalgic trip for me, recalling and preserving Cape Cod in my memory. In the summer of 1949, while Dad stayed home and worked in Chicago, Mom took us east to Boston to visit her sister. We made a side trip to the Cape to visit Orin Tovrov, Dad’s radio colleague and his wife Midge. I was about ten, my sister was five and their children Jessica and John were toddlers.

They lived on an estate near the town of Orleans, on a bluff separated from the wild Atlantic and Nauset Beach by a marshy tidewater pool, named Mill Pond for a grist mill operated there in the early nineteenth century. Orin liked to work in his glassed-in sun porch overlooking a generous backyard. In the mornings children were forbidden to approach, as Orin dictated the following week’s daytime serial drama episodes of Ma Perkins to the secretary who appeared daily to take down dictation of his radio scripts. Preserving Cape Cod, where he and his family loved to walk, play and view the open ocean, became a driving force in his life. Clearly, Orin had discovered what many more have learned more recently — how pleasant it is to hold a job you can do from home.

Mom visited with Midge as they watched the children play in the yard by a square garden pool. One day I jumped into the water in my swimsuit and was barely able to keep my head above water — unexpectedly, it was almost three feet deep. From that day forward, my sister and the toddlers were kept at a safe distance from this hazardous place.

Orin wrote radio scripts for the popular “soap opera” Ma Perkins for twenty-seven years, interrupted only for service in the Navy during World War II. He went on to further success in creating the long running television series, The Doctors, and briefly wrote the daytime radio serial The Brighter Day in the 1940s. He was active in his adopted hometown of Orleans, Mass., and founder of the Orleans Conservation Trust until his death in 2022. His children John and Jessica donated the final section and dedicated to Orin of the 17.95-acre Mill Pond Valley to the Orleans Conservation Trust in 1996, preserving Cape Cod environment. Jessica survives, a Chicago attorney and partner in the law firm of Goodman, Tovrov, Hardy and Johnson, LLC. Her picture, showing a strong resemblance to her mother Midge, appears at this link on her company website.

Preserving Cape Cod in my memory, I walk toward the ocean view.
I walk on Mill Pond Trail toward the ocean view.

My mission was to trace down the Tovrov estate and walk on the trail to the ocean view. When we finally found it at Orleans, Carol stopped calling me crazy and was impressed with the Tovrov family’s contribution to the preserving Cape Cod’s environment . We then pressed on to Provincetown, where we lunched on authentic New England clam chowder and salads at the famous Lobster Pot restaurant. A bracing sea breeze wafted in through the open window overlooking Cape Cod Bay, vividly recalling our dear friends Orin, Midge and family in that magical summer of 1949, some 75 years ago.

My quest would not be complete until I had attempted to contact Jessica. I wrote her a note and attached my proposed blog post. I included a photo of me on the monument to Orin:

Preserving Cape Cod: The plaque honors Orin Tovrov, founder of the Orleans Conservation Trust.
The trailhead plaque honors Orin Tovrov, Founder of the Orleans Conservation Trust.

Dear Jessica,

You probably will not remember me, since you were a toddler when we last met at Orleans, but I am Ben Green’s son. My parents, Alice and Ben, were great personal friends of your parents after they met in the radio business after the war, in 1945 or so. Dad was the adman, with Arthur Meyerhoff and Co., Chicago, responsible for producing and directing the radio shows for the sponsor, while Orin created the actual shows. Mom and Midge were great friends, and she made a side trip to the Cape while visiting her sister Helen in Boston, with my sister Linda and me in tow,

As a retired architect turned writer. I’ve just returned from a trip to Boston and the Cape, as described in the attached post for my blog,  https://authorpetergreen.com, which explains how we happened to make the trip. I thought I should give you a chance to read it before I post it later this week. so you can correct any errors or misunderstandings on my part.

Congratulations on your successful career! There’s more about mine on the website.

Warmest regards from long ago, Peter.

 Jessica replied to my note just two days later.

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your very kind note! You’re right; I don’t remember you but I heard my parents talk about your parents many times. I also have a feeling that I met your sister Linda once, although I have no idea where or when. Your memorial is lovely, and I only wish my parents and brother could read it. Of all the things Daddy did (and there were many) I think the one that gave him the most satisfaction was the Conservation Trust . . .

And again, thank you for thinking of me and getting in touch.

Best, Jessica

She proposed a few corrections to my article, which I made, and suggested we meet the next time we’re in Chicago. My quest was over and my mission accomplished. I felt I had done Dad and myself a favor by continuing another of the deep and loyal friendships he formed in his many-faceted life.

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