The Price of Paradise

Working Lives on the Cape and Islands

By Sean Corcoran

Winner of a 2008 Edward R. Murrow award for Best Series.

This series profiles 20 working people who are doing whatever they can to survive and stay on Cape Cod, despite the obstacles here. It explores how and why these lower, middle, and upper class people continue to fight to live on the Cape.


Jeff Gonsalves >

There are things that keep people on Cape Cod, despite the costs. It may be family, a favorite pastime, or simply the proximity to the ocean. For 50-year-old Harwich resident Jeff Gonsalves, it's Wednesday nights.
watch the videoWatch an audio-slideshow of Jeff Gonsalves and his arm wrestling buddies.

 


Denya LeVine >

Cape Cod and the Islands are known for their community of artists and musicians. They entertain the visitors that the region's service economy relies on, mostly during the warmer months. But very few of the people in the arts here are able to get by just on their talent alone. Most have resumes that sound something like 61-year-old musician Denya LeVine's.

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Lisa Taylor >

Lisa Taylor discovered something amazing when she moved from Pennsylvania to Cape Cod with her husband a decade ago. She expected the seaside villages with quiet winters and beach-going summers. What she didn't expect, she says, and what she now can't imagine leaving or giving up, were the people here.

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Douglass Goff
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Parked on the side yard of Douglass Goff's Mashpee home is a big pink bus. "Ah, the World Famous Buffoonery Bus. Yehee! C'mon in. Watch your step..." It used to have 72 seats inside, but now they're gone and the walls are padded with rubber. Ropes hang from the ceiling for swinging, and it's got a trampoline for jumping. There's a bubble machine, a karaoke machine and tucked away toward the back are dozens of costumes.

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Kevin Burke
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In a house on a small hill in Bourne, just a stone's throw from the water, 66-year-old Kevin Burke pulls up on his computer screen a series of pictures that he took of a 4am moonset at the Bourne Bridge this past winter. At first, it appears to be just a flock of birds swooping above the chunks of ice in the Cape Cod Canal.

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Sean Gonsalves >

Single father Sean Gonsalves's work makes him a vital part of the community, yet he says he often feels like an outsider.

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Anne Flash >

On a windy but warm, nearly cloudless day this past May, about a half-dozen students from Anne Flash's Drawing One class are combing Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet for art materials.

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Mike Carrier >

It's a steamy July evening on Cape Cod, and the Bourne Braves are playing a tight game against the Cotuit Kettleers. It's an important match-up for the Braves, who are leading the Western Division of the Cape Cod Baseball League by just one game over Falmouth. As the Braves' general manger, 42-year-old Mike Carrier has something to do with this team's winning record.

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Todd Morgan Kelley
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Native Cape Codders are getting scarcer and scarcer. According to a recent poll, only 11% of the Cape population were born here. Todd Morgan Kelley is one of this vanishing breed.

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Coco Larrain
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For a single mom on the Cape, life sometimes means being both an artist and a housecleaner for the wealthy.
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Bill Sharkey
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The glass cases in Bill Sharkey's coin store are only half full, with small piles of old silver certificate bills, a handful of jewelry pieces and the odd box of pennies.
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Sarah Van Lieu
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Sarah Van Lieu's family roots are planted firmly in the Nantucket ground. She grew up on the island with her parents, grandparents and a twin brother. In high school, she had a future all mapped out.

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Ralph Binder
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As a chef, Binder longs for the days when food was sold from small stores and mothers sent their sons and daughters to four or five different stores to gather the ingredients for one meal.

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Bob Maffei >
The Cape Cod labor market is dominated by small businesses. According to the Cape and Islands Workforce Investment Board, about 90 percent of all the employers on Cape Cod have 20 or fewer employees. Bob Maffei certainly never expected to one day employ five times that number.

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Holly Nadler
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Holly Nadler collects gossip about both the dead and the living on the island. So in addition to being a bookseller and a ghost story teller, Nadler is the author of Vineyard Confidential: 350 Years of Scandals, Eccentrics and Strange Occurrences.

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Kevin Petrovek
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While plentiful, retail work on Cape is rarely very lucrative, and Kevin Petrovek worked extra jobs to get by. He got a nighttime position at a convenience store, and after he bought a house he rented out rooms to foreign workers in the summer.

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Steve Satin
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48-year-old Satin admits he misjudged the Cape Cod market a bit. Adults 60 and older make up about 27 percent of the Cape's population. That's compared to about 16 percent nationally. So it makes sense that it was largely wealthy retirees who sought him out, both men and women, folks who can afford to pay the $200 an hour for a trainer.

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Bart Morris
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Scattered across Cape Cod's mucky landscapes, where the marsh and ocean meet at times of high tide, are large, blue, plywood boxes. The boxes are greenhead flytraps, and every spring 39-year-old Bart Morris pulls on his knee-high rubber boots and slogs into the wetlands to place about 850 of them in strategic tideland locations from Woods Hole to Provincetown.
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Kathy Powers >

The Cape's charms are wearing thin on the Powers; it seems each month is more difficult financially than the one before. Kathy will give the Cape a few more years, particularly because of her job at a local shelter. But she often daydreams about moving North to Maine.
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Scott Tyldesley
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The Harwich Fire Department responds to about 4,000 calls a year — that's 10 or 12 runs a day, many more than when Tyldesley's father was working. The increase is because most fire departments don't just respond to fires and accidents anymore; they also transport people to the hospital. 75 percent of the department's calls are medical related. So, to help him get on the department, Tyldesley put himself through not only the fire academy, but also an extensive paramedic program.

Hear the Extended Interview