Provincetown which people speak of, especially those who contrast it to their salad days, is not so much that it is any less alluring or it's gay life less vigorous, but rather that with the New Conscience gaining ground elsewhere it is no longer one of (a) few ports in the storm. It is not quite the never-never vacationland of one's wilder dreams it once seemed to be, because you can believe it's really there now. It is beautiful, beautiful people live here, beautiful people come here. But no longer...on parole".
This heady, albeit heavily edited prose comes from John Francis Hunter's lengthy 1972 epic "The Gay Insider", a moldering copy of which presently sits at my left hand. I bought the book when I was all of 17 years old, and it still has some value as sort of WABAC machine to our not so distant past. In spite of the lovely and then brand-new liberation rhetoric, it only seems to reinforce the idea that people have been complaining about Provincetown changing for a great many years. One feels that perhaps even the Wampanoag must have complained about the changes wrought by those awful Pilgrims after they picked up and headed off to Plymouth for more fertile ground and potable water.
It seems like almost everyone had something to say this summer. Dear friends had taken to referring to the place as Problemstown. But the concerns at hand were no longer my issues.
Here it is: Perhaps it's not actually Provincetown that changes. Certainly, retail establishments open and close, new restaurants appear as some old standbys drearily trudge on, real estate prices creep ever higher. One generation is given the gift of growing old; another blithely replaces it.
Basically, the town seems to stay more or less the same; it's we who change within it.
And for some of us old yearly trustees, it's only the conditions of that parole that have changed.
We are sentenced to return year after year.