Pam Parsons Works To Maintain Her Parents’ Cape Cod Legacy

Pam Parsons Works To Maintain Her Parents’ Cape Cod Legacy

 Author: Elizabeth Van Wye

Article Text:

When it comes to old Cape Cod, Chatham’s Pam Parsons is passionate about safeguarding the best of the past. As the new owner of the Holiday Shores Oceanfront cottages in South Chatham, Parsons is happy to be following in the footsteps of her parents and continuing to hold on to a little bit of old Cape Cod on the water.

As a child, Parsons spent many summers in and around the five Holiday Shores cottages on Sea Mist Lane owned and rented out by her parents, Ray and Alice Parsons. Nestled on the shores of Nantucket Sound, the cottages still look much the same as they did 50 years ago, with all the charm intact, and Pam is determined to keep it that way.

Her father bought the cottages along the beach in 1959 for $10,000 each. Her parents had owned a group of rental cottages on the water by the bridge in Sagamore in the ’50s but had come to believe that Sagamore was getting too congested, too busy, according to Parsons. When they saw the group of two-bedroom, one-bath cottages on the water in South Chatham, they knew they had found what they were looking for.

“Dad was a commercial artist,” Parsons says, “and he was looking for a place he could relax and enjoy his painting.” Her mother was a fashion illustrator and understood the need for that quiet place, too.

Pam Parsons holds two of her father’s paintings, currently displayed in Holiday Shores Cottages. Peggy Carr

Pam Parsons grew up with the cottages and a love of art in her blood. She attended schools in South Weymouth and spent her summers in the cottages. “My brother and I would get out of the car and immediately run down to the beach. We loved it!” she recalls. “I remember the fried clams and the go-carts,” she recalls with a laugh. “It was a great experience growing up.”

During those years it was a tradition that when children arrived at the Holiday Shores, they would first race to the beach to find a special shell or rock. Once found, they would bring it to Ray, who would be sitting on the deck of his cottage. By the end of the week, he would have painted these treasures with their names, the date and a whimsical nautical picture to take home with them. “It might have been a lighthouse or a sailboat or just a gull on the beach,” Parsons recalls. Many children, whose families came back summer after summer, amassed a collection of shells and rocks that they treasure today.

Pam Parsons knew from the beginning that art was what she wanted to pursue as well. “I was always creating,” she recalls. “When I was 16 Dad had me painting clapboards and other pictures for gift shops here and in Scituate,” she recalls fondly. “He was a professional artist and I always asked him to look at them afterwards,” she recalls. Ray Parsons made a living as a commercial artist and illustrator with a business in Boston, where he designed the Freedom Trail brochure and covers for Pratt and Whitney, among many other clients.

With that background, “I always knew I wanted to go to art school,” Parsons says. She applied and was accepted to the Art School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. “It was the best time of my life,” she says, and she fell in love with the art of stained glass. While at school she also decided at the last minute to take an art education course and it wound up helping determine the course she ultimately pursued. She earned a masters in education from Cambridge College and spent the past 28 years teaching elementary art in Marshfield.

Along the way, Parsons has also taught art to adults, including teaching stained glass design at Quincy VoTech and in the Braintree evening program, as well as instructing a dried floral design course in the Hingham High School evening program.

Parsons’ parents passed away several years and ago and she now owns the Holiday Shores cottages herself. While she does have a website (, she is retaining the same feeling of the old Cape that she fell in love with as a child. Each spring she prepares and manages the properties, with help from many willing hands of family and friends. She is proud of the fact that many of the families have been coming to the cottages for decades, and now the children are bringing their children back.

Parsons knows that the three-quarters of an acre plus waterfront lot that the cottages sit on is prime real estate, but she wants to maintain the cottages as her parents saw them. The tradition is important to her and a stroll through the cottages attests to her commitment.The cottages are staggered on the slight incline of the Cape Cod lawn where they sit, so that all have a view of the Sound. With the original fir floors and knotty pine walls, they each boast a working fireplace and a deck. The original furniture sports a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore slate blue paint. Sprinkled on the walls of each cottage are her parents’ paintings, including clipper ships and nautical scenes by Ray and a floral by Alice Parsons.

Even early in the season, children frolic next to the sparking water along the sandy white 90-foot beach. They are searching for that perfect shell or rock to take home at the end of their vacation. Parsons sees them and smiles, remarking that when she retires from her teaching job (in the next year or so,) she plans to bring back another tradition. “I will be painting their names and those nautical pictures on their rocks and shells,” she says, and her mind’s eye sees the traditions behind and those to come.

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Copyright (c) 2009, The Cape Cod Chronicle

Record Number: 12AC947BC78990C0