We Can Hear You On The Hill: The History of the Chatham Band

by David Boyer

We Can Hear You on the Hill: The History of the Chatham Band tells the story of the town band formed in 1931 by a talented mechanic who seemed to excel at anything he tried. A motorcycle and boat race driver, he proved instrumental in the first flight across the Atlantic as a young man in 1919.

He gathered friends, most of whom had never played musical instruments, arranged for lessons and began the building of the band into one of the most popular town bands in North America. Along the way, the band garnered interest and help from an exceptional group of people. Some of the impetus for the band came from the Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa. The first director, Thomas Nassi, was a tough Albanian cavalryman involved in preventing the partition of Albania after he had helped it gain independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. Meeting with the Albanian king on strategy periodically, he wrote the national anthem of Albania played today.

The band went on to spawn talented musicians who played for performances of famous groups, including Gladys Knight and the Pips, Patti Page, Chuck Mangione, Jose Feliciano and others. Another member excelled in baseball, pitching a no-hitter and earning a pat on the back from Babe Ruth, while another, a physician, tended to European Royalty living in Chatham during WWII. Several distinguished themselves during the war, surviving the Battle of the Bulge and liberating concentration camps, or giving the ultimate sacrifice in both ground combat and bomber operations.

The band has been playing continuously since 1931 (1932 under the Chatham Band name) except when the members traded their instruments for weapons in WWII. It now draws a crowd of three to five thousand each concert Friday night in the summer to this resort town famous for its beauty,its band, weather data gathering, the lighthouse ordered built by Thomas Jefferson and a sharks to humans ratio that inspired the name of the Monomoy Regional High School Sharks.

The Finest Hours – Chatham’s History of the Pendleton Rescue


Perhaps you have visited the commemoration plaque at Chatham’s Lighthouse Beach, or read the history books behind the greatest Coast Guard small boat rescue mission on February 18, 1952. Perhaps you saw the Disney movie “The Finest Hours,” or witnessed firsthand the exciting days of filming in Chatham, when our coastal village was transformed back in time to become a movie set. This true story of heroics on the ocean captivates the imagination, and we have a wonderful selection of books on the topic. Come browse our Cape Cod selection, or give us a call – we are happy to ship!

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue

by Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman

The story behind the major motion picture from Disney starring Chris Pine, Eric Bana, and Casey Affleck written by a recognized master of the genre a blockbuster account of tragedy at sea (“The Providence Journal”).
It s the winter of 1952 and a ferocious Nor easter is pounding New England with howling winds and seventy-foot seas. Two oil tankers get caught in the violent storm off Cape Cod, its fury splitting the massive ships in two. Back on shore are four young Coast Guardsmen who are given a suicide mission. They must save the lives of the seamen left stranded in the killer storm, and they have to do it in a tiny lifeboat. The crew is led by Bernie Webber, who has to rely on prayer and the courage of his three crewmembers to pull off the impossible. As Webber and his crew sail into the teeth of the storm, each man comes to the realization that he may not come back alive. They’ve lost all navigation and have no idea where the stranded seaman are, and have no idea how to get back home. Whether by sheer luck or divine intervention, the crew stumbles upon the wounded ship in the darkness. More than thirty men appear at the railings of the SS Pendleton, all hoping to be saved. Once again, Webber and his crew face a daunting challenge. How can they rescue all these men with their tiny lifeboat?
Dripping with suspense and high-stakes human drama, “The Finest Hours” has incredible and astonishing true-to-life heroism and action-packed rescue scenes. This marvelous and terrifying yarn (“Los Angeles Times”) deserves a place as a classic of survival at sea (“The Boston Globe”).

Paperback $15.99

The Pendleton Disaster Off Cape Cod:  The Greatest Small Boat Rescue in Coast Guard History

by Theresa Mitchell Barbo

On February 18, 1952, off the coast of Cape Cod, a fierce nor’easter snapped in half two 503-foot oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer. Human grace and grit, leadership and endurance prevail as Theresa Mitchell Barbo and Captain W. Russell Webster (Ret.) recount the historic, heroic rescue of thirty-two merchant mariners from the sinking Pendleton by four young Coast Guardsmen aboard the 36-foot motor lifeboat CG36500. A foreword by former Commandant Admiral Thad Allen (Ret.) and an essay by Master Chief John Jack” Downey (Ret.), a veteran of thousands of modern-day small boat rescues, round out the special third edition of this classic work on Coast Guard history.

Paperback $19.99

Into a Raging Sea: My Life and the Pendleton Rescue  

by Bernie Webber

Most people familiar with the name Bernie Webber associate him with the miraculous rescue of 32 men off of the stern of the Pendleton, made famous in the book and movie The Finest Hours. Rescuing 32 sailors from a sinking ship caught in a ferocious winter storm is a dramatic tale, but what made this mission so special is that the boat Bernie skippered that terrible night was a mere 36 feet in length and the waves were almost twice that size! Bernie and crew received the Coast Guard’s coveted Gold Lifesaving Medal, and what they did on that stormy night is regarded as the greatest small boat rescue in history.

In Into A Raging Sea, Bernie tells that story, but the book is so much more than that. In these pages you ll read about rescue attempts that did not turn out well, stories of fishermen from a time long past, rescues done with the by-gone technique of the breeches buoy, humorous anecdotes, and what Cape Cod and its people meant to Bernie.

Into a Raging Sea is a story of sacrifice, bravery, disappointment, and challenges. And in the background of Bernie’s journey is one constant, the sea.

Paperback $15.95

The Daring Coast Guard Rescue of the Pendleton Crew

      Young Reader’s Fiction (Ages 8-12)

     by Theresa Mitchell Barbo

The crew of a cargo tanker ship called the Pendleton is torn in two by the waves and wind of a raging nor’easter. The Coast Guard leave Chatham harbor in search of her crew, with young Jack Nickerson and his dog Sinbad as unknown stowaways in this fictionalized account of a real-life rescue.


The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue

Young Reader’s Edition (Ages 9-13)

by Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman

On the night of February 18, 1952, during one of the worst winter storms that New England has ever seen, two oil tankers just off the shore of Cape Cod were torn in half by the force of the storm. This middle-grade adaptation of an adult nonfiction book tells the story of a harrowing Coast Guard rescue when four men in a tiny lifeboat overcame insurmountable odds and saved more than 30 stranded sailors. This is a fast-paced, uplifting story that puts young readers in the middle of the action. It’s a gripping story of heroism and survival with the same intensity as the bestselling book and movie The Perfect Storm.”

Paperback $7.99

Two Tankers Down: The Greatest Small-Boat Rescue in U.S. Coast Guard History

by Robert Frump

In the tradition of The Perfect Storm, the riveting story of a legendary rescue at sea Bernie Webber was the least likely candidate to execute the greatest small-boat rescue in American history. The trouble-prone son of a Baptist minister, he had been well on his way to becoming a juvenile delinquent. Until he went to sea. And then, on the night of February 18, 1952, in a raging blizzard off the coast of Cape Cod, Webber, now a young lifeboat coxswain with the U.S. Coast Guard, and his crew performed a miracle. Two big oil tankers had split in two in raging seas, and nothing: not a big cutter, not a sea plane, not a chopper could reach them in time. Only Webber and his crew of three volunteers had a chance. He knew they would probably die on this mission. They were, after all, in an unassuming thirty-six-foot rescue boat that didn t even have a name but for the CG 36500 on its side. But he loved this boat and he knew the inauspicious Coast Guard motto: You have to go out. You don’t have to come back. Webber took the CG 36500 out in sixty-foot waves and saved thirty lives. He and his men won the rarely bestowed Coast Guard Gold Medal for Valor and a place in history that shapes the Coast Guard culture to this day. Two Tankers Down tells their story, capturing the full drama of one of the most gripping sea rescue stories of all time.

Paperback $16.95