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Publication Date: July 28, 2014
As long as there have been records kept, there have been stories of the sea. Some of the stories have been good and are filled with happiness, others have shown the hard life that the men on the front lines of the fishing industry have and some are so heartbreaking if a man is lost at sea.
Growing up in Gloucester meant fishing and salt water was injected in your blood at birth. Some kids were born with a rod and reel, some were born with trawling nets, others with traps or deep sea rigs. It didn’t matter, you simply knew how to do it. You knew the difference between a jig and a #8 hook and what fish liked clams as bait or sea worms.
You skippered boats with names that were created with an industry in mind, such as a dentist naming a boat “The Impaction. They were named for a mother or father or a nautical term such as Gale Force. Some even had names that were comical such as “Hekawi” as in the tribe in the 60’s sitcom “F-Troop”. It didn’t matter what the name was, because it was yours.
You knew how to pilot any size boat, from an Amesbury skiff, to a Boston Whaler and an Albin cabin cruiser. You knew how to chum the waters and gahf the big one. NYC clam chowda is blasphemy to you, as is Red Lobster and any Lobsta Roll south west of Lobsta Land. It will never be a question of “To fish or not to fish”, but rather “how am I gonna cook it tonight? You have saved many fish from the hazard of drowning in the ocean.
A snow storm that only drops 6” is considered a dusting. If it’s sunny and above 40 degrees, you are in shorts. 60+ degrees is a beach day, and a rain storm means you can have a great day fishing. You hate people that think a 50″+ swell is Hollywood magic, because you may have lived through one. Pneumonia may sideline you, but sea sickness will never. You can hold a beer in one hand and hot dog in the other while doing 30 knots.
You mourned the losses and celebrated victories. It didn’t matter what your background was, you did it all together at Our Lady of Good Voyage. You were there when Cardinals Cushing, Mediros and Law blessed the fleet during every fiesta.
You have played the air guitar at “Old Timers”. You have drank Sambucca, and you are 100% Italian or Sicilian during the last full weekend in June. “Viva San Pietro” rolls off your tongue with ease at the same time.
You are all Gloucestermen, no matter where you settled and what you did, because like riding a bike, you will always remember being a Gloucesterman.