GMG Q&A- Melissa Smith Abbott Part VII (the final installment)
What are your thoughts on The Block Parties last year?
I love the way the Gloucester Downtown is pulling together and making themselves interesting and relevant to the community. It is a real chance to get a sense of community and bond with the local businesses and your neighbors. I have made a decision in the last year to shop locally and keep my money in town rather than driving to a mall and giving it to a corporation. I would much rather support local businesses. I hope Gloucester Downtown continues to band together on the same grassroots level and organize more events for both the locals and the tourists. I had a blast at one of the block parties and went into stores and talked to people I normally would not have had a chance to get to know. I actually won a raffle at the Black Swan and now have one of thier beautiful purses. In days gone by, Gloucester Downtown was a real meeting place. Everyone congregated in front of the waiting station which is where Passports, Sugar Magnolias, The Franklin, and
Deborah Coull Salon is now. We had Connors drug store with thier soda fountain, Nick’s Pool Room (not that any girls ever went in there), Sam Ann’s which was a coffee shop after school hangout for the High school kids. Everyone waited for late buses there to get home and it was a social network. In the 1960’s there were actual cliques of kids. Two of them were The West End Kids and The East Gloucester Kids AKA The Clique. Sometimes there would even be rumbles between the boys in the halls at school or at house parties. It seems kind of silly now, but it was a big deal back then. Grays Hardware Store was across the Street and Dr Wonson the dentist was upstairs. You could walk up the hill to Sterlings Drug Store or Woolworth’s and then there was Brown’s Department Store, Goldman’s and The Empire. All of these sold the sweater sets we yearned for which we wore with little peter pan colored blouses and circle pins. We bought our shoes and purses at Mark
Adrians (was known as something else but I can’t remember). We took dance Lessons from Ina Hahn upstairs from the waiting station. So for me, Downtown Gloucester was a place where I came of age and learned about the world. Now that I work for The Gloucester Times, my territory is downtown Gloucester and it is very interesting to me to meet and know everyone there now. Some of the names and faces are the same but most are new.
What is your favorite Local band.
I have been a fan of Fly Amero since High School when he was the only musician we knew who could play the whole of the song by Arlo Gutherie, Alices Restaurant, all the way through (which took about 45 minutes). For some reason I was very impressed by this. I also knew his older brother JB when he played in a rocking 60’s band called JB and Water. They played all the Yacht Club and High School Dances at the time and they were a cross between The Kingsmen of Louis Louis fame and The Kinks and he was definitely one of the coolest guys around musically. His sister Linda was one of the most lovely girls around in the 60’s and boy could she sing then and can she sing now! A few years ago I went to Fly’s 50th birthday party and reconnected with everyone and it was very cool.
Thank you Melissa for taking the time to write all this down and share with us. It is much appreciated!