History

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HISTORY OF THE CAPE COD NEVIL SHUTE CHAPTER

 

The history of the Cape Cod Nevil Shute Chapter began shortly after my wife, Joan, and I, Art Cornell, moved to Cape Cod in 1999. Previously, we had lived in New Jersey where we started reading Nevil Shute. It was there that I fell in love with his books and thought I would enjoy meeting other Shute readers.

 

In 1992 I wrote a letter to the local newspaper and from it, I received five calls. We formed the Nevil Shute Society. It is now the New Jersey Chapter. And they are still going strong.

 

On Cape Cod I wrote a letter to the newspaper but got no response. Then I decided to have a meeting at a local library putting up fliers advertising the meeting. I was hoping that someone would show up at the meeting. The date, time and place was set.

 

I was looking forward to the Thursday meeting for several weeks but on the Sunday before, I was called to Michigan for a funeral. On the way home on Saturday I remembered the meeting. At home a call on the answering machine said they were from the library and there were people looking for me. I was devastated. On Monday morning I went to the library and was handed a note. It said:

 

Hello!

Here we are, “On the Beach”, and you

The “Trustee of the Tool Room” must

Have gone “Round the Bend”!

So call us, lest we have “No Highway”

Joe Accrocco

 

I laughed. Joe, I thought, is a real Nevil Shute person. I met Joe and we became the nucleus of the Cape Cod chapter. One other person saw the fliers so we had four people in our chapter including Joan.

 

In March 2001 Joan and I attended a Gathering in Australia organized by the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation (see nevilshute.org) and attended by Nevil Shute people from all over the world. One couple had built a sailboat and named it “An Old Captivity” after a Shute novel by that name. It got me thinking about Cape Cod and Shute’s description of the Vikings making landfall on Cape Cod. In the story a seaplane landed in the same spot as the Vikings. I remembered that, years before, one of our New Jersey Shute chapter members familiar with Cape Cod had figured out where the seaplane had landed.

When we returned to Cape Cod, I reread An Old Captivity and realized the Vikings and seaplane as described in the book landed only two miles from our house. Amazing! I had no idea. In the book the Vikings had left an engraved stone and the people in the seaplane found it again. Even though this was a novel, a book of fiction, I thought I could find the stone again.

I went to a local stone yard, found an appropriate stone and proceeded to carve with a chisel the markings as Shute described in An Old Captivity. We took the stone (see TITLE PAGE) down to the beach and Joan and I had our picture taken with it. Then we sent the picture to the Nevil Shute newsletter. The newsletter editor had my story published on April 1—April Fools Day.

From An Old Captivity I was certain that Nevil Shute had visited Cape Cod but had no proof. I was still trying to get some Cape Cod chapter members and trying to find information proving that Shute came to Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Times has a column called Write to Know. Anyone can write in with a question and hopefully they will print it and get the readers to answer the question. I wrote to them asking if anyone could remember Nevil Shute coming to the Cape Cod in 1939. I said that I was President of the Cape Cod Chapter of the Nevil Shute Society. Four people got in touch with me saying that they knew nothing about Nevil Shute coming to Cape Cod but they were interested in the Nevil Shute Society. They all thought they were the only one that still read Nevil Shute books. Now we had the makings of a good Nevil Shute Chapter.

Every two years the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation has a Gathering of Nevil Shute people somewhere on this globe. In 2005 Joan and I hosted the Gathering on Cape Cod. Sixty-five people attended from the United States, Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, and Australia. For details see Gatherings in the website: nevilshute.org.

              Art Cornell, president of chapter