John Kaschak, 74, who spent over 50 years on Cape Cod, died on July 14, 2020, in Harwich. The cause was lung cancer, said his brother, Frank.
The son of Edith (Pape) and Frank Kaschak, John grew up in Bristol, Conn. After two years in accounting school, he made his first trip to Provincetown in 1969 and moved there immediately.
In 1983, John told the Provincetown Advocate, “I had never seen anything like Provincetown before, where you know everybody and you can walk to the water… It brings out the best in people. You find yourself doing things for yourself you never thought you were capable of.”
John worked as a dishwasher at Poyant’s restaurant, as an assistant carpenter for his landlord, and as the manager of Pier Cargo before opening his own store, Thunder Road, with his then wife, Carol, in 1976.
Thunder Road sold handcrafted jewelry until it closed in the late 1980s. The name was derived from the noisy alleyway next to Perry’s Bowlaway, which John passed through daily to go home. Located in the East End on Commercial Street, it sparkled with fine jewelry and Lalique and Swarovski crystal.
When he was vice president of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce, which was trying to devise ways to build tourism in the off-season, John suggested stringing holiday lights on the Pilgrim Monument. He made a presentation and brought it to the chamber, which approved the idea.
The execution, however, proved a challenge. Despite the cold, wet, and windy weather that first year, John and his Winslow Street neighbors Manny Martin and Artie Martinez prevailed. New electric circuits and a transformer were installed. The welder Clarence Kacergis made the ground stakes. Volunteers stretched cable, duct-taped wires, and checked bulbs. Custom cable was created and donated by several Cape businesses. Townspeople filled in the gaps and brought sandwiches for the crew.
On Nov. 26, 1986, the Pilgrim Monument lit up with 3,990 bulbs on 19 strands. John and his hardworking crew were thrilled and the lights were visible for miles. A tradition was born.
In his later years John worked at the hotel Sateriale’s Holiday, which is now the Harbor Hotel, as chief of maintenance. He could do anything from fixing a leaking sink to coordinating large projects. He lived near the hotel until the time of his death. He enjoyed his job, and his colleagues there were like family.
John adored Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, the New York Jets, the Red Sox, and UConn’s women’s basketball.
Many will remember him walking down Commercial Street with a cup of coffee in hand. He was a jokester and always had a funny anecdote.
He will be missed by his brother, Frank, his aunt Dorothy Johns of Bristol, Conn., who is 102 years old, and cousins in Bristol, as well as many friends.
Prayers were said for him during a Mass on Aug. 2 at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown. Burial was private.
Memorial donations may be sent to Outer Cape Health Services, P.O. Box 598, Harwich Port 02646; or to the Visiting Nurses Association/Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation, P.O. 370, Hyannis 02601.