Dear CHO members & friends, 

While the CHO remains closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are developing digital programming and other ways to keep in touch with you. Following is information about two more program offerings that you can view in the safety of your home. Watch for CHO news updates and program announcements in future editions of this e-Newsletter. Please stay healthy and safe!  
The Story of U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG36500

Chatham Marconi Maritime Center
The Centers for Culture and History in Orleans



in a zoom broadcast about THE CG36500



*FREE to CHO Members
Non-members & guests $10

The theme of “Radio to the Rescue” this season encompasses new exhibits at the Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum and a series of fascinating speakers, continuing on August 6 with “The Story of Motor Lifeboat CG36500.” While radio communication ended the isolation of mariners at sea at the turn of the 20th century, rescues were still conducted under harsh conditions by skilled Coast Guardsmen in small boats. 

On February 18, 1952, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Bernie Webber took Motor Lifeboat CG36500 out of Chatham Station with three crew members, responding to the tanker SS Pendleton that had broken in two off Chatham in a storm. They fought 60-foot waves, hurricane-force winds and blizzard conditions to rescue 32 sailors in what has been called “The Greatest Small Boat Rescue in Coast Guard History.” The crew is gone now but the CG36500 lives on, and that is a fascinating rescue story all its own.

Dick Ryder, a member of the CHO Board of Directors, is the Operations Manager and coxswain of the restored CG36500. Patricia Webber Hamilton is Bernie Webber’s daughter and continues to tell her father’s story of the SS Pendleton rescue and of his distinguished career in Coast Guard service.   

Chatham Marconi is pleased to collaborate with the Centers for Culture and History in Orleans (CHO) on this program. CHO owns and maintains the preserved CG36500 in operating condition.  (

Tickets for this virtual presentation via Zoom webinar can be obtained by clicking the REGISTER HERE link below.

THURSDAY AUG 6 at 7:00pm.


Re-live local history through the eyes of many long-time Orleans residents--past and present – by watching “IN THOSE DAYS” videos on the CHO YouTube channel . Long-time resident Anne Carron writes below about one of these oral histories, an interview with former telephone operator Doris McDermott, while adding a little historical context of her own.
In 1992, resident and moonlighting filmmaker, Tom Cronin, interviewed and videotaped a series of longtime Orleans residents to record their stories about what life was like “in those days”. Doris McDermott was one of them.
Doris was born on Great Oak Rd. in East Orleans in 1912. Her father, Wilbur Chase, also born in Orleans, worked for over 30 years at the Coast Guard Life Saving Station. Her parents married at the Orleans Inn in 1896 and spent their honeymoon night in the cupola room! 
Doris regales us with stories of what it was like growing up pre-World War I days to the 1920’s and ‘30’s. She describes in detail what she considers “the best part of my life” working as a New England Telephone operator from 1929 to 1944, first in the old Cummings building (now the Land-Ho) and then when the company moved in 1941 into the Head and Foot store (currently the Main Street Wine and Gourmet shop). Also she talks about her father’s work in the Life-Saving Service and U.S. Coast Guard.

Mary McDermott, Doris’s only child, also participates in this interview with some of her own reminiscences of growing up in town and working for 17 years in the Tax Department at the Town Hall in Orleans.

On some personal notes, my husband, Mark, remembers the days of having a party-line in Eastham and calling the operator for assistance -- or just to gab. He knew when their phone rang 4 times it was for his family, and that it was not uncommon for neighbors to pick up and listen, too. A memory that made a big impression to Mark was coming home from school and dialing the phone for the first time. 

I, too, remember having a party-line at our house in the late 1950’s. But what struck me about the old New England Telephone Co. was the fact that the operators were in charge of the fire whistle when there was a fire in town or in Eastham. These were the days when the town had an all-volunteer fire department. I remember hearing and counting the number of whistles indicating which town had the fire, and distinguishing it from the noon-hour whistle. Our house was 2 miles away in South Orleans and it was loud!
We are grateful that Doris and Mary McDermott relived some of their memories of “the old days” and we encourage everyone to spend an hour watching this fascinating video ( click here to watch video ) . We promise you won’t regret it! 

Mark and Anne Carron,
Longtime Orleans Residents (now in Arizona)

508-240-1329 - 3 River Rd Orleans, MA 02653 -