Ron Gilson’s Talk

Ron Gilson’s Talk


The other night I went to hear Ron Gilson

speak about his youth on the docks of Gloucester.

Each moment he recalled burst with the excitement

and awe of more than 60 years before.


It was clear that those years were not now just

pleasant recollections; they were the anchor

to which his life was made fast, and around which

all events circled as the tide flowed and ebbed.


At one point, as Ron searched for the precise way

to describe the mood, sights and sounds of those days,

his voice got tight, he hesitated and tears came.

At last, he declared: “Moving. That’s what it was. Moving.”


Those  who were lucky enough to have had

happy, adventurous and exciting childhoods

were brought back to our own dear early years,

as if by the pull of an anchor taking hold.


Some of us took long hikes in the dark woods,

sidestepped copperheads, climbed nearby mountains,

swam unsupervised in unpolluted creeks,

helped out mornings on our grandparents’ farm,


went on long bike rides to unexplored places,

held secret meetings at the old train station,

built soapbox cars to race wildly down the steepest

hill and carefully walked across the railroad tressle


thirty feet above the jagged rocks on our way

to the rope swing high above the Rondout

where, later, we went fishing and  gave the eels to

Mr. Annapple and brought home the sunfish, bass and perch.


We spent the nights around the fire, roasted corn

borrowed from the nearby field, told scary stories,

discovered the planets, and galaxies

and discussed things you would not believe.


Ron Gilson spoke to the universal child.

He opened wide the doors we had peeked through,

but had not entered and implored us to visit.

Moving. That’s what it was. Moving.


Marty Luster


  • I own Ron’s book..”An Island No More” and have read it twice…and will undoubtedly read it again…Ron truly does love Gloucester.


  • Ron is awesome.. could listen to Ron forever


  • Beautiful Marty–I wish I could have heard his talk–hopefully he’ll let us know about future talks.


  • When I was a teenager Ron and Joan gave me my first job at Union Hill. I worked hard and was dependable and he took notice of that.


  • Ron’s talk at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum in the Waterline Center was wonderful. His standing first-hand knowledge of the fisheries is remarkable, and because it is first hand, it has a personal intimacy as Marty mentions, that is rare even from the best of historians.

    Joanne Souza, The Executive Director of Schooner Adventure, and we folks at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum are looking forward to other presentations by Ron.


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