Author Archives: Pat D

Main Street 1947: those were the days my friend

The 1947 Gloucester High Yearbook contained the following ad page.1947 yearbook ads

I thought it would be interesting to see what is in the places of these businesses today  as well as pictures of these businesses from that time period. I went to the Gloucester Municipal Archives in City Hall for help.  Three volunteers worked hard to help me–thanks to Sandy Williams, Mary Williams and Sue Wright–but we did not succeed in finding pictures of Main Street from the 1940s.  We did find what you see below.  Most of these are very poor quality as they are cell phone pictures taken of photos that are probably 50 years old or so.  We did determine that the numbering systems hasn’t changed much over the years, so that was a big help.

This is 120-122 Main, former home of Dr. George Barron, optometrist. The Franklin is 118 Main Street today.


Google maps pretty clearly shows where this is today.

128 Main St. Glouc Google Map (2)

You can see North Shore Furniture on the corner here listed at 161-163 Main St. I think today this is DIVA.

Blanchards Jeweler shown here, listed in the 1971 City Directory at 125 Main.

The Hesperus Diner’s currently doing business as Supreme Roast Beef.

136 Main Street, previously Sandler’s Jewelers, is now the Curtain Shop.  I understand the original building burned down and was rebuilt.

According to the volunteers, M.B. Wright Stationer at 108 Main used to be “the old waiting station” for late bus pickup for Gloucester students. It’s listed as “Proctor Brothers Building”.

Charles H. Swift at 133 Main is a bit of a mystery as Larsens is listed at 131 Main and the Looking Good Salon is listed at 135. It seems apparent that establishment was nearby.

AF Silva Custom Tailor at 89 1/2 Main must previously have been near today’s Brass Monkey, formerly the site of Palazolas.

I hope this brings back some nice memories for you.

My Turn

It’s been a few days since we’ve seen Snowy Owl pictures, so I’ll take my turn posting some I took yesterday on the Back Shore.  This owl was disturbed by crows who dive bombed and squawked like the crazies they are.  It flew back and forth a few times; there was a dog nearby that I believe may have scared Owl a bit.

There were only a few people around with cameras at the time.  The waves were pretty spectacular and I think drive-bys thought we were simply taking wave photos.  One of the other couples that did come by noted there are two owls in the vicinity.  As I compare recent Back Shore owl pictures, I would tend to agree these two are different owls.  Greater minds than mine will be able to be more certain that these two below are not the same owl.

It’s been a magical experience to see these–it speaks to the wonder and beauty of Cape Ann!

Wolf Hollow in Ipswich

We visited Wolf Hollow this past Sunday to take in their wolf presentation and meet the occupants.  It so happened that Sunday was the first time their new gift shop/ticket office was open to the public.  Previously, it had been held in the home of the owners.  I’ve never seen what the gift shop in the house looked like, but I feel confident in stating that the new building is an improvement.

Wolf Hollow is open Sundays only through the winter months from 1-3 PM.  It was very busy when we were there.  Honestly I was a little surprised at how many people were there.  Even though the day was sunny, it was only 20 degrees and the hour long program is  held outdoors.  I suggest purchasing your tickets in advance if you are considering a visit as space is limited and interest is high.

We saw seven wolves, which have not been raised in the wild so they were easily visible while the trainers were in the enclosure with them.  The viewing area is not particularly expansive but I was able to see what I hoped to see and to get adequate pictures.  The presentation was thorough and kept our attention even though we were seriously shivering.  Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $6.00 seniors/children 3-17 yrs of age.  I think we’ll go again and take some of our favorite children 3-17 years of age.


Looks Like a Duck, Sounds Like a Duck

**PLEASE NOTE: These pictures were taken well before Mr. Swan got himself frozen in the ice on Niles Pond. The following is in no way related to the current swan situation**

Mr. Swan was in Rockport Harbor recently with a few dozen of his closest friends.  I think he’s getting his ducks in order.


I was watching the ducks and came to realize they are not so different from people after all.  I know GMG has other contributors with greater knowledge of animals and nature, but I think I can offer some less scientific observations.  These ducks seemed to be holding a meeting in the harbor.


Who called this meeting?

Someone always arrives late…..


There’s the fidgety one……


And there’s always the lucky guy that gets to “duck out”……..


Till the next time……..

Open Door Stopping and Shopping

At the podcast last week, we promised Joey we would take his donation over to the Open Door food pantry.  We decided to combine that with some donations of our own after stopping and shopping at Stop and Shop.

GMG Jimmy driving the shopping cart for a change.  Not searching for owls or seals.

“Do you have your Stop and Shop card?”

 Kersten graciously accepted the donations from Joe and Jimmy

Footbridge Moat

We were very happy to see the Good Harbor Beach footbridge survived the recent assault of snow, wind, tide and general abuse but we also took note that a moat has developed at the base.  We observed people jumping down or lifting their dogs so they could reach the bridge from ground level. I spoke briefly with a city worker who noted this kind of damage is not the normal post storm kind.  He’d never seen the moat so deep. Fascinating what Mother Nature can do!


Seal Sighting

It seemed we were followed everywhere Thursday by the Mass Audobon van loaded up with people with cameras and binoculars.  I’ll assume they were looking for birds.  So was I, but I was lucky enough to have GMG Jimmy driving me around.  Instead of birds, we found seals.  Ten of them in Brace Cove relaxing on the rocks and occasionally performing a bit for us. It was quite a show.

One Less Critter in Joe’s Yard

While recording the podcast Wednesday morning from Joey’s kitchen, we noticed these tracks in the back yard.  Anyone know what critter makes these tracks? They aren’t very big–I should have placed something there so you could judge the size.

Before you go to too much trouble, perhaps it doesn’t really matter what critter this is because I noticed the tracks come to a dead stop. Upon closer examination, it appears this guy fell prey to a hawk or other flying predator.  Despite the poor quality of the photo taken in the shadows, I think you can see what looks like claw marks at the end of the line of tracks.


Circle of life.

Night and Day

I understand the weather will improve drastically toward the end of the week and be as different as night and day from just a few days ago.  These were taken at Wonsons Cove on Rocky Neck where we hope everyone is recovering from the storm. We are thinking of the thousands of people affected by the storm and hope you can remember that, with the night, comes the dawn.

Gloucester October 2014 263Gloucester October 2014 308

Who Do You Think You Are?


You might be wondering what all the hype is about DNA testing for family history research and ethnicity.  Ancestry and 23 and Me made a big push over the holidays and lowered their prices considerably as an incentive.  I’ve had great good luck meeting new cousins as a result of DNA testing (many of them with Gloucester connections).  When I share the stories with family members, I realize there are misconceptions about what DNA testing can tell you.  I’m no expert, but I can share my own experience.

The biggest surprise for people hearing about new cousins as a result of testing through Ancestry is that the test results can connect you with actual people in addition to giving you an idea about ethnicity.  Time and time again I heard “You mean it connects you with people too?”  Yes, it connects you with potential cousins and it’s glorious when that happens!

Ancestry test results not only provide you with potential cousins and that famous pie chart for ethnic background, but also with historic context about migration patterns of people that share ethnicity.  Mine are Irish fishermen who settled in Gloucester and Ancestry could provide some historical background into the common factors that forced the Irish out and how they may have found their way to Cape Ann.  This kind of knowledge greatly enriches the stories of the ancestors I’ll never get to know personally.

Ancestry DNA testing usually costs $99 but is often discounted, especially around holidays like Mothers Day and Fathers Day.  If you are considering it, I’d wait and watch for discounted pricing, perhaps as low as $69.  If you decide to have DNA tested, I encourage you to further consider adding family tree information so that potential cousins (like me) can contact you!!!  I’d love to meet you, Gloucester cousin!

This link seems to provide some good general information in DNA testing if you are interested.

What You See Is What You Get


What does this look like to you?  I think it looks like a lizard-like creature rising from its sand home to have some sea grass for lunch.  When I come across something like this, I can easily understand how people might imagine they have seen sea creatures or some other-worldly being when in reality it’s a piece of driftwood on the beach at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.  Can’t wait to get back there and see what it looks like covered with snow.

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