Lora Merchant came into the gallery to visit today. Lora grew up on Rocky Neck, moved away when she was 20, now lives in Georgia, and would do anything to live back in Gloucester again. She mentioned something about giving up two fingers to anyone from Gloucester who would trade places with her in Georgia – a little extreme, but I can understand. We talked about all sorts of things Gloucester, and then she mentioned the Catnip Man, who she remembered following down the street when she was a young girl. He was a kind of scruffy character who grew catnip, which he walked the streets of Gloucester selling, followed by a clowder of cats. Does anyone else remember the Catnip Man, called Catnip Bill? He was the subject of the children’s book “Catnip Man” written in 1951 by Rockport author, Ruth Holberg.
According to Stephen P. Hall of Beverly, the Capnip Man’s real name was William Albert Joseph Patrick Swayne Luscomb. Bill lived the last years of his life in a rooming house at 32 Broadway Street in Beverly, and was a familiar sight on Cabot Street in the late 1950s until his death in 1962.