Detail of Alden Steele’s marker. [2012, Dunlap]
Alden Duarte “Pete” Steele (1908-1977) and Clotilda Dorothea “Tillie” (Medeiros) Steele (1911-1992). Pete Steele, the son of Joseph Silveira Steele and Maria Brown Macedo, grew up on his father’s dairy farm, so indispensable in day-to-day work that he quit school in the ninth grade to help out. Tillie Medeiros was the daughter of Manuel Travis Medeiros, who was injured aboard Mary C. Santos, and Angelina Veronica Santos. Circumstances were so dire that she was placed for a while in a home for destitute Catholic children and was working full-time at 13. A few years later, Alden brought himself to Clotilda’s attention by tooting the “shave and a haircut” tune whenever he drove by in his fish-hauling truck. She thought he was fresh. (Never mind the fish.) He persisted. Love prevailed.
They eloped — to Wellfleet — in September 1929 and then, to assuage his father, remarried at St. Peter’s three months later. They bought 21 Court Street house, built around 1850, in December 1945 from Joseph F. and Agnes C. Medeiros. The Steeles moved in with quite a little brood: Rose Marie, Duane Alden, Lana Ramunda, Michelle Lee, and Bonnie Gae. Actually, that’s not quite correct. In the excitement of the move, they momentarily forgot the infant Bonnie back at their old house on Alden Street. That story comes with authority from the child-left-behind herself, Bonnie Gae (Steele) McGhee (1945-2020), and a wonderful family scrapbook she compiled in 1997.
The Steeles, from a family scrapbook. [Courtesy of Duane A. Steele]
Once the Steeles had settled at 21 Court, “Mrs. Steele then became one of Provincetown’s legendary ‘Portuguese landladies,’ one of those courageous women who opened their doors to rent rooms in their immaculate homes,” Marilyn Miller wrote in the Advocate. It probably should be noted that Tillie was not the Tillie of Tillie’s, at 506 Commercial Street. (That was Matilda “Tillie” Jason.)
Duane, who practically grew up in the house, was a journalism-English major at UMass while his family still lived on Court Street. He would go on to become editor and publisher of the Advocate.
The Steele memorial. [2012, Dunlap]
The reverse of the memorial. [2012, Dunlap]
Alden’s military marker notes his service as private 1st class in the Army during World War II. [2012, Dunlap]
• Find a Grave Memorial No. 137579612. (Pete)
• Find a Grave Memorial No. 139053131. (Tillie)
• Find a Grave Memorial No. 220918284. (Bonnie)
¶ Last updated on 18 December 2021.