Margo Solod's Cuttyhunk: Life on the Rock contains a suite of galvanizing stories from her 15 years as staffer, innkeeper and cook of the Allen House, Cuttyhunk's finest (and only) inn. This book is essentially a love story, the kind that, like the best love, comes complete with recipes. The kind of love story that encompasses a barefoot Jackie Kennedy; Gertrude, a bloody 378-lb swordfish kept on ice in a bathtub; Jesse-the-dog and Tom-the-cat-not-to-be-trifled-with; and any number of ways to cook a lobster. Vivid, colorful, and touching, this memoir is well worth the reading and cooking time.
I watch my 15-year-old nephew, Matthew, load the last of the file boxes onto his golf cart and haul them off to the burn barrel. My father’s attic is now empty, at least of Allen House papers. Thirteen boxes in all, documenting my life at the Allen House: from those first days building the public bathrooms with Hunter to the final days of the sale of the property. Thirteen boxes my sister Nina and I have spent two weeks combing through: every scrap of paper, every packet of restaurant checks, and every guest accommodation sheet to make sure no bit of memorabilia or important documentation is accidentally tossed. What to keep to commemorate fifteen years on this island, the beginning of a new chapter in the life of this one-hundred-year old inn, and its ultimate and unexpected end?
Old menus, the original handwritten guest book, pictures: all these are carefully set aside. But how to choose among the letters from guests and employees, work schedules, employee newsletters, and lists of most-often-asked guest questions, the series of ever-changing staff handbooks? In the end, everything of possible value is bundled into one box that I take away with me. I designate myself the official documentarian of the rise of the Allen House from a boarding house to an inn and restaurant written up in newspapers, magazines, and National Geographic, to its surprising and underhanded demise.
What goes into this book is mine alone to decide—the amusing, the poignant, the sad. There are thousands of stories and hundreds of recipes from our time running the Allen House; I have tried to pick and choose among the best. But I have little to go on besides my memory, and that of my sister, Nina, who worked beside me for twelve of those years. These are my recollections, and I apologize in advance if they do not match yours.
For Dad, who made it possible. I wish you had made it to publication.
And for Nina. Without you, I’d never have made it at all.
Margo Solod has been an innkeeper, restaurant owner, chef, lighting designer, carpenter, and factory worker. She will do most anything to support her writing habit.
After 20 years of travelling, 4 poetry chapbooks, 1 full-length book of poetry, 100+ published poems in 70+ magazines and 6 anthologies, 1 memoir with recipes, 3 trucks, and 9 sets of tires, she has settled in the middle of 68 acres in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her partner of more than 14 years and a varying assortment of rescued shelter dogs.