Recollections of Rockport in the New York Times

From the March 24th edition of the New York Times:

When Rockport Was My Own

 

Pamela Baker

The Bakers’ home, left, and Main Street, right, presided over by a church that residents call the Old Sloop.

By KEVIN BAKER
Published: March 23, 2011

I GREW up in a small town called Rockport, on the North Shore of Massachusetts, home to no more than 5,000 people when we first moved there, and dear to those who know it. It is a place of rugged natural beauty: a shore of granite outcroppings that jut into a cold blue sea, a movie set of a New England village with streets full of small shops and not a traffic light in the town.

My mother was so happy when we moved there from New Jersey that she used to make up songs about it and sing them as she literally skipped down to the ocean. It was a place she would always love more than anywhere else on earth, and it was easy to see why. For most of my childhood we lived, very cheaply, in a two-story, wood-frame house, with a yard full of trees and a wood behind us. We ate wild blackberries straight from the bushes that grew along the edge of our backyard, spent the summers swimming in abandoned granite quarries and skated over their black-green depths in the winter.

The town was almost unbelievable in its innocence, its sweetness. Rockport Junior-Senior High School, with 250 students, was too small to have any serious cliques and divisions; the same kids starred on the basketball team and in the school play. There weren’t even any locks on the lockers; no one ever thought to put them there. Little League games weren’t laden with adult expectations. Our champion Pigeon Cove Red Sox were coached by a couple of hippie-ish high school kids who piled us all into their old wrecks after each game to getice cream.

For the rest of the article click here to go to the New York Times website

Kevin Baker is the author of the novels “Dreamland,” “Paradise Alley” and “Strivers Row.”

The author, second from left, at his boyhood home in Rockport, Mass.
Pamela Baker

Rockport’s stony shore.

The author, far left, next to his mother and two sisters. His father is at far right with two other relatives.

Pamela Baker

Motif No. 1, a fishing shack famed as an artists’ subject.

7 comments

  • What beautiful memories. My husband took me to Rockport when I was 15. We never missed a year. His ashes are with Rockport as well as my heart!

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  • This is the Rockport I remember well. Although I never lived there, my grandparents did, and it has always been my dream to live there myself. It still feels like going home when I get there with my kids. Thank you for a beautiful memoir.

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  • Rockport, yes very special. In 1970 I was in Ft Hood Texas when a young Soldier returning from Viet nam walked into the barracks. In a short time we struck up a conversation and the start of a life long friendship. He would talk about his home town, which he hadn’t seen in a long time and missed dearly. The more he told me about it the more intrigued I became. He invited me to come visit him when we got out. So in july of 1971 I put on a back pack, stuck out my thumb on a highway, and headed east. After a couple of days I ended up in Rockport. It was even more beautiful than he told me. I lived at 74 Main St at his parents house. The Darcy’s were warm and loving people and welcomed me with open arms. The first night in town I was introduced to Steamers and we walked on down to Bearskin neck. Stopped by Eddie Donavns, grabbed some ten cent Lobster bodies, then went to Walter Dyers. I still have the Vest that I bought that night. Then up to Jimmy’s hot dog to finish the night. I now live back in Michigan but travel back HOME every chance I get. Rockport and the and the wonderful people I was lucky to meet changed my life forever and I miss them every day. YES Rockport is a very special place.
    Vern Jenks, Middleville MI

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  • Unlike the author, who spent the FIRST HALF of his life here in Rockport — I’m spending the SECOND HALF of mine. The love for the community exists in us both. We are BOTH very lucky.

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  • Such great and touching comments. GMG should have people write in with their own versions of this essay of remembering Rockport.

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  • Nice. Being from Glouceter I was a perpetual visitor. July 4th Fireman’s Parade, Bon Fires, outdoor concerts at the bandstand , etc. Picnic’s at Lattof’s Farm, Pigeon Cove, etc. I moved to Manchester shortly after getting married. Our kids shared a lot of experiences with Rockport..Halibut Point Park, merged events with Scouts, youth sports, and all. How about (ITL) town team basball. With my new business we enter a float in the Firemans Parade to help pay back what we enjoyed. Manchester, Essex, Rockport…the same, but very much not the same. There is nothing like being at the “Rail’s End”.

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