Judge Robert A. Welsh
Track 1: Born in 1903, Mr. Welsh, a retired judge, describes his experiences growing up in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He talks about how is father became a lawyer and judge in Provincetown. He describes his youth and life in Provincetown in the early 1900’s, his experiences with the artist Charles W. Hawthorn and the school Mr Hawthorne ran in the summer. A famous student of Hawthorne was Henry Hensche. Judge Welsh also remembers seeing Eugene O’Neil prior to World War I. He also describes his experiences at dances in Provincetown when he was a teenager. He describes his experiences with Harry Kemp, a local poet, known as the tramp poet. He also tells of Dr. Daniel Hebert, the town’s doctor and his experiences with Eugene O’Neil and Harry Kemp. He also remembered President Taft arriving for the dedication of the Provincetown Monument.
Track 2: Judge Welsh tells about life in Provincetown during World War I. Provincetown had a large naval base for submarines. At 29 he succeeded his father. He explains the politics of the appointment process. He also tells a few humorous stories of court cases in his district court.
Track 3: Judge Welsh continues his funny stories of being a District Court Judge for the areas from Provincetown to Harwich. He also recalls famous people that appeared in his and earlier in his father’s court. Eugene O’Neil in his father’s court and Harry Kemp the poet in his court. He describes his experiences with Harry Kemp as a client of his as well. He describes the politics of getting a new courthouse in Orleans. He also described the process involved when his son became the 2nd District Court Judge.
Track 4: Judge Welsh describes the transition from part-time judges to full-time judges. Also describes the value of full-time judges who are paid a good wage. He describes the prohibition era in Provincetown and the rum runners who would go out to the big ships off shore. Most of the cases were in the federal courts not the district courts. He talks of going to dances in his youth. Tells the story of the fishing captain Frank Gasper who would fool people into believing he knew how to read the newspaper. He also talks about the freezer storage companies that extended the fishing industry on Provincetown. He graduated from high school in 1921, college in 1925 and law school in 1928. He clerked for his father’s court and talks about keeping the books for the court. The first court in Provincetown was in 1890.
Notes: The Tales of Cape Cod Oral History Collection is housed at the William Brewster Nickerson Archives in the Wilkens Library at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. For more information about the collection, please contact the Nickerson Archives, http://www.nickersonarchives.org/.
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