Tag Archives: Ron Gilson


Len Burgess writes-

Ron Gilson of Gloucester lectured Wednesday night at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum’s Waterline Center about working aboard Gloucester’s Schooner ‘Adventure’ back in 1951.

Ron recounted his growing up in Gloucester and personal memories of the fisheries and fishermen of Gloucester and the shipbuilding of Cape Ann. In great detail he described, at 17 years old, working aboard the ‘Adventure’ for 8 days and with slides how the fish were caught by the crew. The trip brought home 80,000 pounds of fish.

Ron has a book out which any true Gloucester FOB should have.  
‘An Island No More’–A Memoir, The Gloucester I Knew

"GLOUCESTER in the 1940s was a self-contained "city", an island, literally, the ocean separated us from the outside world. We were a complete entity, supported mainly by our anchor industry — fishing. United and focused on a common goal, harvesting the sea, our workforce was akin to an army marching to a deafening cadence. As a young boy, I thought this fantasy would go on forever; it was a magical time!" –Ron Gilson

Ronald Gilson was born into a Gloucester working class family in the depths of the “Great Depression.” He was raised in Ward II’s Dog Hill neighborhood and introduced to the waterfront while still a boy. Gilson operated the harbor’s only freshwater boat (delivering fresh water to the Schooners), learning the ways of the waterfront, from the bottom up. He has fished the vessels, worked the wharves, and insured the fleet. Considered an authority on the great fleet buildup of the 1940s and 1950s, his blog relates many personal experiences of his life on the Gloucester waterfront. He graphically writes of a bygone era, spiced with personal anecdotes that takes his readers into the heart of Gloucester’s historic anchor industry.
Ron’s blog… http://www.thegloucesterilove.blogspot.com/


Ron Gilson-The Future of Gloucester’s Fishing Industry – Part II — CHANGE

The Future of Gloucester’s Fishing Industry – Part II — CHANGE

Ron Gilson-

While many activists base their efforts on a fishing industry “comeback”, the reality is it isn’t going to happen. “Comeback”, meaning hundreds of meaningful shore side processing jobs, hundreds of new career fisherman on hopefully hundreds of boats….anything resembling the 1940s and ‘50s, is simply out of the question. Still there are those holding out hope for a return to the deluge volume of the early ‘50s! Dr. Carmine Gorga has publicly stated his only hope is “will we be ready….”

Since 1950, our once anchor industry has been on a downward spiral. There are many citizens of Gloucester who point to declining fish landings, being the result of governmental regulations, and a lack of resource compared to the industry heydays of the ‘40s and ‘50s. That is all true; however, there are even deeper reasons for Gloucester’s industry demise. I realize that over fishing and over regulation are often thought of as the main cause of our industry failing, however, I believe “change” in our society is the principle culprit.

For the rest of the blog post click this text

Chickity Check It! The Future of Gloucester’s Fishing Industry – Part I

The Future of Gloucester’s Fishing Industry – Part I

There will always be fishing in Gloucester. There will always be men to go fishing. That is our heritage and has been for close to 400 years. It is not, however, Gloucester’s future.

If you were an adult in the late 1940s or 1950s, you witnessed the big show! Sixty years ago, Gloucester’s fishing industry was at its peak. We were the recognized world leader in production of volume fish products. Since the mid-1950s, our dominance in the industry has steadily declined.

For the rest of Ron Gilson’s latest blog entry click this text

Gloucester Visitors Welcoming Center At Stage Fort Park

Ron Garry, his wife Alina, Laura Dow, Ron Gilson and others have been working non stop for three weeks scraping, painting and getting the Visitors Center at Stage Fort Park back in shape.  The City budget cuts had axed the tourism department and these concerned citizens and great eggs have donated their time and in some cases money to keep this place going and make it better than it ever was.  We owe them a great debt of gratitude for doing so much for our city.

Look for the first part of our video tour inside tomorrow at 8AM.  You knew I’d get you in first didn’t ya?

Ron Gilson’s Letter To The Editor In The GDT

Letter to the editor: City must generate more tax revenue from waterfront

May 16, 2009 05:27 am

To the editor:

This is an open message to Michael David Rubin and his My View. (The Times, May 11).

I pass this along from a concerned citizen — for what I have to say is true and is appalling.

Mr. Rubin, whatever disagreement you have with Mayor Kirk and her community development director is between the parties; I will not go there. I also will not comment on Mayor Kirk’s Harbor Initiative. I’ve done enough commenting on well meaning, civic-minded harbor planning committees, dating back to the mid 1960s when I served on Mayor Donald Lowe’s Harbor Planning Committee.

About seven of us met for two years on a bi-weekly basis, and spent $10,000 of the city’s money on a professional feasibility study by consultants Metcalf & Eddy. The end result … nothing.

Out of curiosity, I recently attempted to obtain a copy of “our” study to no avail; it has vanished. I do know that, by the time it was published, two years had passed, administrations had changed, interest had waned, and apparently our Harbor Study Report went unrecognized, possibly placed into the round file.

In your “My View” piece, I take issue with your opinion that our harbor and its once primary revenue source, commercial fishing, may still return, not only stronger, but as a vital resource.

The persistent theme of turning Gloucester into a tourist-oriented economy repeats the old threat — destructive residential development of our waterfront. These same scare tactics were around 40 years ago when our Harbor Study Committee met.

Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, the only family member surviving the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam in World War II, on the dedication of the Anne Frank House in 1967, said this, “to build a future, you have to know the past.”

In 1949, when Gloucester’s 200 boats, 2,000 fishermen, and 2,500 wharf workers were landing and processing millions of pounds of edible fish daily, routinely breaking annual records of 300 million to 500 million pounds of redfish and whiting, you, Mr. Rubin, were 6 years old!

While everyone hopes for a fish comeback, I ask you, define “comeback.” Gloucester’s peak fish production was in 1949, ’50, ’51. It has gone downhill steadily since.

At the height of our highest fish production, when every pound of fish had to be filleted, packed and frozen, that entire task was accomplished on no more than 60 percent of the then-available wharfage. At least 40 percent of our waterfront wharfage real estate was unused!

Mr. Rubin, the above is all history, but it’s where Gloucester was in the late 1940s, when fishing was Gloucester’s primary revenue source. To infer that our waterfront will ever approach even 25 percent of that production is preposterous. To continue to hold out hope for any fishing fleet revival, warranting the reserving of additional wharfage and, or waterfront frontage, is ridiculous, plain and simple. It’s more, it’s downright fraudulent!

I can give you many reasons for the current dire state of Gloucester’s commercial fishing industry.

Along the periphery of our harbor from the Fort to East Gloucester, there are 79 strictly waterfront properties within the DPA (Designated Port Area). Official city records indicate these properties pay a total of $741,000 in real estate taxes. Our entire real estate tax revenues are $56.7 million.

Gloucester’s budget is $81 million, as recently submitted. Our waterfront is paying approximately 1-1âÑ2 percent of our actual total tax revenue!

In other words, approximately 98 percent of Gloucester’s real estate taxpayers are subsidizing your alleged “primary revenue source,” Gloucester harbor waterfront businesses. And you, my concerned citizen, continue to advocate for industrial-only expansion while prime water frontage lies fallow, in some cases over 40 years!

Mr. Rubin, the people of Gloucester deserve an income-producing Gloucester waterfront. Our children and grandchildren deserve better. Our Gloucester waterfront must step up to the plate and pay its fair share.

Our city councilors must address the larger need of our entire real estate taxpayer population and our city government must accept the reality that our once-dominant fishing industry, as we knew it, has changed forever.

Ron Gilson


Chickity Check It! Ron Gilson’s The Gloucester I Love Posts

The Gloucester I Love

The Gloucester I Love

Ron has three new blog postings-

Gloucester Development Projects and Impact Upon Downtown Business

Residential Development: Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong

Residential Development: Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong (Part II)

Schooner Adventure Sails Into Gloucester 1988 From Ron Gilson’s Collection

While at Ron Gilson’s house I saw this poster sized picture of The Adventure coming into Gloucester Harbor under sail in 1988.  What is interesting about the picture is that if you look at City Hall in 1988 it was surrounded by scaffolding under a reconstruction.  Some twenty years later it was surrounded by scaffolding once again.

Look for the first of a three part video series from Ron Gilson’s house satrting todat at 8:00AM

Schooner Adventure Sails Into Gloucester 1988 From Ron Gilson’s Collection, originally uploaded by captjoe06.


Ron Gilson- “The Waterfront: Then and Now (but this is NOW)”

Must read from Ron Gilson-Click the text to read the entire post-

The Waterfront: Then and Now (but this is NOW)

Gloucester’s future is in our harbor. In my youth our harbor was our lifeblood. If this city is to survive economically without a substantial fishing industry, our harbor planners must accept the reality of change. Before we take off willy nilly, we should examine the past: what went on in our harbor since 1950, the pivotal year and highest period of our harbor’s fishing production. Before we can decide on any new harbor strategy, the planners must review where we’ve been.
Last week I spent time with Ron Gilson at his house and got three more interviews with him.  The first will be posted in video form Monday morning at 8:00AM.  I haven’t heard another person speak such perfect sense about Gloucester Harbor’s past, present and future than this man.
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