For eight generations, over 50 Crosby family members have loved working with wood – designing, building, restoring, repairing and maintaining wooden boats on Cape Cod. As one of the longest running family businesses in the country, the Crosby builders are known for their talent, work ethic, integrity and exceptional customer service. Here we chat with Karen Crosby about the family business and her perspective of living on Cape Cod year round, and what she loves so much about this special place.
Tell us about your connection to the Cape and your business/profession
Cape Cod has always been my home (except for the period when I went to college). All four of my grandparents were born here, too.
As a very young man, my grandfather left his family business of oyster farming in Osterville to start a boatyard…Chester A. Crosby, Co. Twenty years later or so, adjunct “& Sons” to the business name with the addition of my uncle and father. My sister, brother, three cousins and I all worked in the family business through many different phases of our lives.
In the spring of 1987, my uncle sold the yard out of the family. My father had died at age 43, my grandfather was ill and the yard was being run only by my uncle.
Fast forward many years, my younger brother graduated from college and finds his way to creating a boatyard of his own, EM Crosby Boatworks. This is where I work as the girl-who-does-everything-except-bang a hammer kind of job and I couldn’t be happier. After being a professional musician for 35 years, I’ve come full circle.
What do you love about the Cape Cod community?
I grew up here and I know innately this is where I belong, but I must admit when I graduated from Barnstable High School, I couldn’t wait to get off the Cape. I went over that bridge and never looked back. I was determined to “see the world”.
What I didn’t know then – that I learned in the next few years – was that Cape Cod was “the world.” The things I was searching for weren’t only out there. I didn’t need to go to foreign places to see beautiful vistas, to meet interesting people, to broaden my life story into a more “worldly” person. Cape Cod had the goods and I had to open myself up to receiving what the Cape had to offer, which, at the age of 18, I wasn’t able to do.
What are some of the best parts of living here?
Being formed by a glacier Cape Cod has a unique geography. The woods are beautiful and the ocean, of course, such different, yet complementary environments. I love to walk my dog in the woods of Eagle Pond in Cotuit on one morning and then walk on Long Beach, Craigville (not between May 15 and Sept 15, however!) the next. Both landscapes are rich in the qualities of each, yet are only 20 minutes apart.
When I was in school in Hartford, I met lots of people who waited the entire year to spend 10 days or 2 weeks on the Cape. How blessed am I that I get to experience the assets of the Cape every day?!?!?
Why do you think it is important to shop local?
The Cape is surrounded on three sides by water. We are, one could say, somewhat insular. We have to rely on and support our non-aquatic neighbors. We are all customers and merchants to each other.
Describe your ideal Cape Cod day.
The ideal Cape Cod day is easy – just don’t go over the bridge! Stay here. Work. Shop. Play. Learn. Visit. Enjoy a fabulous charmed life right in our very own backyard.