From the March 24th edition of the New York Times:
When Rockport Was My Own
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.
Kevin Baker is the author of the novels “Dreamland,” “Paradise Alley” and “Strivers Row.”