Tag Archives: US Navy

#GloucesterMA in Boston Globe & Cape Ann Beacon- Good Harbor Beach Salt Island for sale, again

July 2016 Salt Island Good Harbor Beach

Salt Island, Good Harbor Beach and Brier Neck are naturally connected. The five acre Salt Island is about 1000 feet from Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts. A sandbar links the island and beach at low tide. I’ve culled a few milestones in its history. Scroll down to 2017 to find the links for the Cape Ann Beacon and today’s Boston Globe.

SALT ISLAND TIMELINE BITS

1860

History of the Town of Gloucester: Cape Ann, John Jame Babson’s published history includes a shipwreck of the vessel, Industry, at Little Good Harbor Beach near Salt Island in 1796

19th century

Joseph Parsons’ family operated a lobster business from Salt Island

pre 1919

silent movies were filmed on location

1919 Fox Film Co Bride Number 13

Parts of the Fox Film Corporation movie, Bride Number 13, were shot on location at Good Harbor Beach and Salt Island. The 15 part serial silent film –“the most costly pictures ever made…would consume expenditures of at least one million dollars.” It was conceived and written by Edward Sedgwick, directed by Richard Stanton aka “Salt Island’s Mighty Emperor”, and starred Marguerite Clayton, Jack O’Brien, and Ed Rossman. The script was inspired by Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Here are a few fun excerpts from 1919 correspondence published in the book, “My father, a silent films pioneer,” by George E. Mcavoy:

“Again the picturesque Gloucester shores have been sought by a motion picture corporation for scenery and the noted Fox Film Company of New York, with its prominent director, Richard Stanton, has arrived at Hotel Harbor View, East Gloucester, to start immediately on the work of filming “Bride Number 13” at Salt Island off Brier Neck.

“It was decided that Salt Island in Gloucester, Mass., would be the setting of the silent film thriller, “Bride Number 13.” This island was an island at high tide and part of the mainland at low tide. Fox film Co. was building a wooden castle on the island, which was about one hundred feet high and hosted the actions of this silent film…” 

“(This was five days before the real tornado blew the wooden castle out to sea.)”

Oct 24, 1919“Dear Mother: I left Mary and the babies in Gloucester. I am on my way through New Hampshire and Maine for a lumber camp location. I expect to be back in Gloucester Monday night…

the time for the blowing up of the castle on Salt Island and the rescue of the brides from the pirate band is rapidly approaching…

Billy Carr of Gloucester, Chief Gunner’s Mate on the Navy submarine R-1 that was assigned to the picture, was to play the hero who rescues one of the brides, slashes through the nest of cutthroats, leaps into the basket with her and off. It was now November 10th. A throng of 3,000 was at Good Harbor and all over Brier Neck to watch…On the fourth day Bill Carr was called away on duty and his place was taken by Tom Corbiey…”

“Mr. Sedgwick has achieved something heretofore unknown in moving picture production. He conceived the idea of the story, witnessed and helped direct the scenes, acted in them, had a hand in the grinding of the film, and in fact had a part in every process of the film production…”

“While all bid good-bye to Gloucester last night, there was a general expression of a desire to return and several of the company said that they intended to return here next summer for the vacation period if not in picture work.”

“The explosion was a heavy one and its shock was felt in all parts of the city. It shook the windows of houses on Mt. Vernon Street and vicinity, also at East Gloucester and as far as Rockport. It occurred at 4:20 o’clock and people who felt the shock readily attributed it to the blow-up of Salt Island.”

photo caption: Bride 13 star Marguerite Clayton and kids on vacation during filming of Bride 13. Background shows the stately castle film set on Salt Island

film set castle on salt island good harbor beach gloucester ma- Mary McAvoy with sons

1923 The Silent Command

Then and now: filmmakers love Gloucester.

Fox Film Corporation returned to film the patriotic silent era Navy spy film, THE SILENT COMMAND on Good Harbor Beach, again on the Briar/Brier neck side.

The Silent Commander filed on Good Harbor Beach Salt Island

1923 was a busy year for Gloucester, MA. In addition to the municipality managing the bustling tercentenary, Gloucester welcomed another major Fox movie production to shoot on location at Good Harbor Beach. The film was made in cooperation with the Navy. It was directed by J Gordon Edwards, and starred Edmund Lowe and Bela Lugosi in his first American film. It’s essentially a spy thriller with a honeypot formula: foreign power attempts to secure plans to the Panama Canal and blow it up. The villains are thwarted by the US Navy. The production required assistance from the city’s fire department and city electrician. The film crew stayed in Gloucester at the Harbor View Hotel and the Savoy. Local people were cast and spectators lined the beach to watch the thrilling production.

BEFORE CGI:

I love this excerpt from the Gloucester Daily Times describing the staged wreck and tremendous waves washing the crew (stuntmen and Gloucester locals) overboard:

“A crowd of several hundred thronged the (Good Harbor) beach for the picture taking and enjoyed the proceedings, which were interesting, and at times thrilling…The Good Harbor beach setting is a clever contrivance, and constructed to produce a natural rocking motion of a steamer in a heavy sea. The rocking is produced by four winches operated by a crew of 10 men…Storm scenes were filmed yesterday afternoon with local actors, Stuart Cooney, son of Marion J. Cooney, taking the part of the hero and making a thrilling climb into the rigging to the crow’s nest during the height of the storm. Fred Kolstee, a rigger, commanded the crew of the steamer. The crew were (locals) Alfred Marshall, Tony Amero, Tom Bess, Peter Rice, James Francis, James Whittle and William Byers. Rain was produced from lines of hose, and a most realistic effect was produced by two aeroplanes, the wind from the speeding propellors driving the water about, and rushing through the rattlings and rigging with all the vengeance of a real gale at sea. Three times the big tank of water was released and the thousands of gallons broke over the deck in a most thrilling manner. There was some concern among the movie men before the water was released that some of the men might get buffeted about and get hurt, and they were cautioned to hold on tight.

However, it was a mere trifle for Gloucestermen, veterans of many a gale on the banks.

It was best expressed by Alfred Marshall when he stepped toward the ladder to leave the craft after the picture taking was done. Alfred was quite vexed. “Blankety, blankety, blank___, is this the best you can do? Blank, I’ve bailed bigger seas than that out of a dory. And he sung it right out so all could hear, too.”

Stuart Cooney ensured that the movie was a success from a technical perspective and “purchased the outfit and (took) it over” after the filming finished. He was a Gloucester pioneer in the film industry that’s still going strong. Film Cape Ann facilitates bringing local productions here, like the award winning Manchester by the Sea.  The Wikipedia page doesn’t have any mention of Gloucester, but it helped me with an illustration for The Silent Command lobby poster.

1923 silent FOX movie The Silent Command filmed on location Good Harbor Beach Gloucester MA

See for yourself; here’s a link to the complete movie. A few of the Gloucester scenes (not all) 1:03:44, 1:08:54, 1:09:54 (some coast), 1:10:21,  1:10:52 (dory lowered from navy ship), 1:11:12 (beach island)

AFI for TCM brief synopsis: “This is one of those ‘Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean’ pictures. Full of the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ patriotic to the nth degree with the navy floating all over the screen. A real hero, a vamp, and a flock of thrills.” (from Var review.) Foreign agents, determined to destroy the United States Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and the Panama Canal, after an unsuccessful attempt to obtain from Capt. Richard Decatur information regarding mine positions in the Canal Zone, hire adventuress Peg Williams to vamp Captain Decatur, thereby putting him at their mercy. Decatur, advised by the Chief of Naval Intelligence, plays along with the spies to gain their confidence. He leaves his wife and is dismissed from the Navy as a result of his association with Miss Williams. Finally, he goes to Panama, thwarts the saboteurs, saves the fleet and the canal, and gains honorable reinstatement and the gratitude of his country for his heroism.”

1940s

Guy Parsons used one of the old family fishing shacks as a summer place

1950s

By now the fishing shacks were no longer visible

1952

Parson family sold Salt Island

1959

James Kimball purchased Salt Island for $2000

1972

Yankee Magazine article about Bride Number 13 Lights! Camera! Disaster! by Joseph E. Garland

1979

Gloucester Daily Times article mentions that James Kimball “has no plans for the island, although in the past he has thought of building a summer home on the island. When I was young my family spent their summers on Brier Neck…So when the island became available I jumped at the chance.”

2000

One of  the designated “Special places in Gloucester”

2005

“Special places in Gloucester” appendix list for the MA Heritage Landscape Inventory Program, MA Dept of Conservation and Recreation Essex National Heritage

September 7, 2011

GMG abou the Filming of Bride 13 on Salt Island by Fred Bodin

“Where is this film? I’d love to know. All sources indicate that Bride 13 was either lost or destroyed, as happened with many silent films. The reference used for this post was the May 1972 Yankee Magazine article, Lights! Camera! Disaster!, authored by the late Joseph E. Garland of Gloucester.”

and September 9, 2011 GMG Filming of Bride 13 on Salt Island Fred Buck Cape Ann Museum adds photos from the location filming 

2013

Salt Island listed for sale $300,000 plus beach parking passes for the family

2017

Salt Island listed For Sale $750,000

September 2017 Cape Ann Beacon

Sept 1 Cape Ann Beacon “Salt Island is for Sale” by Jason Brisbois

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2017 BOSTON GLOBE

Today’s paper: Sept 16 Boston Globe “A Gem or a Rock: For $750,000 Salt Island Could Be Yours” by Billy Baker

“If somebody buys it and builds, it’s because these guys didn’t step up to the plate and protect it the way my father did when I was a little girl, ” said Maslow, who pointed out that she and her siblings are not rich people with big summer houses. “I can’t help it if someone buys it and paints it purple and puts pigs on it.” – Karen Maslow

“…this island has been available for public use informally for generations thanks to the goodwill of that family. That point should not be lost.” — Chris LaPointe, Essex County Greenbelt

Boston Globe Sept 16 2017 Salt Island for sale

Trulia listing for Salt Island exclaims “Showings available only at low tide!”

 

WWII Navy ship’s bell mystery and news from Capt Lester S Wass American Legion Post 3

Commander Mark Nestor welcomed the city’s Tourism Commission to the Capt. Lester S Wass American Legion Post 3, Gloucester, MA. Gloucester Congressman A. Piatt Andrew (1873-1936) founded the American Field Service and was instrumental in forming the National American Legion at this post. It’s the third oldest in the country, and its 100th anniversary in 2019 is fast approaching.

The Legion has a new website http://www.post3.org/

It was pushed along by the requests for an on line drive to support  legionnaires suffering as a result of recent hurricane Harvey/Irma.

The building and legion accommodate thousands of visitors annually. The building itself was constructed ca.1844 and is one of the greatest examples of residents crowd sourcing together to purchase a municipal building. The architecture serves an enduring patriotic role: first as a Town Hall, then school, and since WW1  the Legion Post 3.

Nestor expressed gratitude for the city. This past summer they restored the wood floors, which brightened the space from the everyday black/brown grime of the past 20 years. They’ve greatly improved the space and display. A museum mount for the handwritten contemporaneous Official City Clerk copy of the WW1 army and navy register is a high light. A writer has already relied on it for original research.

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The Legion is open to the community and rented for private events. There is a private recreation room for veterans which is under renovation. Upkeep and care of the building is ongoing.

CAN YOU HELP SOLVE THE WW II  SHIP’s BELL MYSTERY?

Can you help identify the WWII naval vessel? The bell belonged to Reverend John J. Sheehan who was a Navy Chaplain. “It’s believed the bell was from the vessel he served on, but the ship remains unknown.” Sheehan’s cousin donated the ship bell to the Post. From the Legion’s plaque:

“After World War I, Reverend Sheehan served as Director at Camp Stella Maris for more than 40 years. It was a summer camp for youth located in West Gloucester. Its name is inscribed on the bell. Reverend Sheehan was also the National Chaplain for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also served as Pastor in a number of Catholic parishes on the north shore. The bell was dedicated to a Stephen Chamberlin. Stephen Chamberlin was a Ret. Lieutenant General who served in the army during WWII and was the Asst. Chief of Staff,G-3 in General Douglas Macarthur’s General Headquarters in the southwest Pacific area. His relationship to Reverend Sheehan is unknown.”

 

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The commemorative coin celebrating the Capt Lester S Wass Post No. 3 100th anniversary and the Cape Ann Veterans Services coin are for sale.

Adam Curcuru, Director Cape Ann Veterans Services, attended the meeting and remarked how great it was “to see our Veterans organizations being utilized to support our great communities.”

Adam Curcuru at the Legion for the Gloucester Tourism Commission meeting

Courage, Daring, Brave, Honor, Renaissance, and Commitment

The names are as wonderful as the US Navy sailboats themselves…and they were back in Rockport for Rockport Navy Weekend.

The sleek ships, adorned with the colorful nautical flags make an already beautiful New England harbor even more perfect.

The boats were open to visitors throughout the weekend and Sunday afternoon the Junior sailors from Sandy Bay Yacht Club were welcomed aboard.

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Our First Stealth Warship

On April 12th, 2014, the 610 foot long US Navy Destroyer Zumwalt was christened at the Bath Iron Works in Maine. My friend Bob Rubin of Rocky Neck (https://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/tradition-on-rocky-neck/) attended the celebration with his camera. The ship's namesake is the late Admiral Elmo 'Bud' Zumwalt, Chief of Naval Operations from 1970 to 1974. USS Zumwalt is the stealthiest and most technologically advanced ship in the world.

On April 12th, 2014, the 610 foot long US Navy Destroyer Zumwalt was christened at the Bath Iron Works in Maine. My friend Bob Rubin of Rocky Neck (https://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/tradition-on-rocky-neck/) attended the celebration with his camera. The ship’s namesake is the late Admiral Elmo ‘Bud’ Zumwalt, Chief of Naval Operations from 1970 to 1974. USS Zumwalt is the stealthiest and most technologically advanced ship in the world.

The Admiral's daughters Ann and Mouzetta break a bottle of bubbly to christen the USS Zumwalt.

The Admiral’s daughters Ann and Mouzetta break a bottle of bubbly to christen the USS Zumwalt.

Destroyer Zumwalt under construction at the Bath Iron Works. The ship will go to sea in 2016. Cost: $3 billion dollars.

Destroyer Zumwalt under construction at the Bath Iron Works. The ship will go to sea in 2016. Cost: $3 billion dollars.

Numerous groundbreaking features are built into the Zumwalt, among them: Tumblehome or reverse bow to slice through waves and reduce the wake; No windows or portholes; Composite superstructure; Crew of 130, which is about half that of similar warships, and no external antennas. USN Captain James A. Kirk's futuristic destroyer's stealth features will also make the ship appear as a Gloucester fishing boat on enemy radar.

Numerous groundbreaking features are built into the Zumwalt, among them: Tumblehome or reverse bow to slice through waves and reduce the wake; No windows or portholes; Composite superstructure; Crew of 130, which is about half that of similar warships, and no external antennas. USN Captain James A. Kirk’s futuristic destroyer’s stealth features will also make the ship appear as a Gloucester fishing boat on enemy radar.