"Gloucester, Ma. - My Hometown Page" Top 5 Page for this destination Gloucester by fdrich29
Gloucester Travel Guide: 144 reviews and 486 photos
I was born at the Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester on July 14th, 1972. Fishing was still Gloucester's main industry and my grandfather had started when he was just nine years old (and would go on spending the better part of the next 53 years providing for his family on the sea). He learned I had been born when the Coast Guard arranged a special call for him while he was out on the ocean.
Fishing and the ocean were the family's lifeblood and with it came a very specific way of life. I had the luxury of my maternal grandparents living upstairs from us, something quite common in Sicilian culture (it would be difficult to differentiate a Gloucester phone book from a listing of towns in Sicily). When I was young my mother and I would drop my grandfather off at the wharf at Rocky Neck and then pick him up a few weeks later when the boat came back in. Grandpa was a fisherman, I understood that, but I scarecely knew the difficult and dangerous life he lived. The few days that he would be on land would be spent mending nets, being with family and of course cooking. This was the way of life for many of the adults I knew when I was growing up in Gloucester.
For all intents and purposes, Gloucester is an island, connected to the rest of the world by two bridges, the A.Piett Andrew Bridge, that gave us access to Route 128 and the rest of civilization, and the Blyman or "Cut" Bridge along the boulevard that leads to Magnolia and the Hammond Castle. Although the rest of the world was accessable, if not seemingly worlds away, people of Gloucester tended to stay in Gloucester. Going "up the line" (128 South, usually to the Beverly Hospital, or the malls in Danvers and Peabody) was a big deal.
We had everything we needed in Gloucester. Nelson's on Main Street catered to the fishing industry, but I could always get my Gloucester Fisherman school bag here (yes, that's the name of our sports teams). The Building Center on Harbor Loop had lumber, tools and Christmas decorations. There were two Cape Ann Markets and a Stop and Shop, two CVS's, Ames and plenty of shops on Main Street, most notably Empires, which could have had the tag line "Offical store of the Gloucester Fisherman's Wives".
Home life was special as well. Sunday dinner was always spent with family. We didn't have spaghetti, we had "Bista i Sugo". Christmas Eve meant fish, fish and more fish and seeing the entire family. Everyone went to the beach in the summer, and you were either a Wingaersheek or Good Harbor person (we were the latter). Kid's fished off the shore, it was your rite of passage. Frank, Joe, Sal and Vito were the most common names (there were three other Frank's on my street besides my Grandfather and myself). We had Joe Popcorn, Joe the Barber and Joe Hotdog, among our more popular service providers. The St. Peter's Fiesta marked the end of the school year and the beginning of summer and every kid watched the Greasy Pole runners as heros.
I left Gloucester about 12 years ago, but as the saying goes "You can take the boy out of Gloucester..." I live about 45 minutes away from the Fisherman's Statue now and only a few miles from Boston, which seemed so far away when, on very clear days, you could see it's skyline from the shores of Gloucester.
Today Gloucester is a much different land than it was when I left. The world has finally come to Gloucester, crossing over the bridge to reach the people who for so long resisted seeking it out. The Cape Ann Markets are gone, replaced with major chains stores. Addison Gilbert no longer has a maternity ward, so Gloucester's sons and Daughters come into the world from a neighboring town. Coinciding with this age of awaking was something many of us never thought would come, the decline of the fishing industry in Gloucester. It's very weak pulse kept alive by a small percentage of the fleet and those of us who remember the days gone by.
On my wedding day, which we celebrated at the Tavern on the Harbor in Gloucester, as I looked out the emense windows facing the Harbor I realized many of my most precious memories of the city where I was born and raised live on only in my spirit, as their physical presence has disappeared forever. As I watched a lone fishing vessel leaving the Harbor I knew the most comforting memories were of Grandpa. I looked down at his ring on my right hand, smiled, knowing he was with me as my bride and I shared this first night as Husband and Wife in the city he called home.
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