The Key- Poem by Eric Schoonover

The Key

 

While planting bulbs, a rusty lump rose

up, a treasure of the past. My brushing

 

revealed a key, suggesting unthought hope

of spaces in the past and locked away.

 

Might it have fit the lock of my house,

slyly slipping from one venturing forth in haste,

 

those many years ago, protecting four scant rooms,

“two-over-two” they’re called: large pots simmering

 

treasures and smoking up the beams hung

with slabs of haddock, hams, and braids of onions?

 

The lock it fit is gone . . . so many years ago. I know

of every owner of this house since 1735—all sixteen.

 

Which one of those dashed out to market

and allowed the key to grow its meaning in the garden

 

of daylily, lilac, hollyhock—sturdy

New England stock? I gently placed it

 

in my pocket to find it later broken into

brownish bits and unable to fit into any lock.

 

 

-Eric Schoonover  ©

 

 

erik schoonover

Eric Schoonover is a writer, boatbuilder and watercolorist living in Gloucester. He is the author of the award-wining The Gloucester Suite and Other Poems and a novel, Flowers of the Sea.

 

 

 

Remembering Bob Stephenson by Peter Anastas, Ernest Morin & Bing McGilvray

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PeterABobS Florence1959

Peter Anastas and Bob Stephenson – Florence, Italy 1959

In Memoriam: Robert Douglas “Bob” Stephenson (August 21,1935 – August 9, 2015)

With the death of painter Robert Stephenson on August 9, Gloucester lost one of its most distinctive contemporary artists.  We also lost a great character, a trait that is in short supply these days.

I knew Bob from the Hovey School, where we met in Miss Courant’s fifth grade class in 1947. Even then Bob was drawing and painting constantly.  He was also a wit, who kept us laughing when we should have been concentrating on our studies.   As befits someone as creative as Bob, he was  able to turn both his art and his wit into activities that gained him academic credit.

One of our first projects together was a play we co-wrote for our unit in American history about Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, for which Bob designed the costumes, or rather, adapted them from clothing we borrowed from our mothers—today you might call it “colonial drag.”  Bob’s mother, Cora Douglas, the daughter of New England lighthouse keepers, had a house full of the most interesting artifacts, many of which she and Bob’s late father, Charles Francis Stephenson, had collected during his tours of duty in the diplomatic corps.  In fact, much of Bob’s sophistication, which made him seem so much older and more mature than the rest of us, was the consequence of the family’s having lived abroad.  I suspect these experiences may have played a role in Bob’s becoming an incredibly accomplished linguist during his military career.  It is said that he was proficient in twelve languages, including several dialects.

Once we were in Central Grammar for 7th and 8th grades, our dramatic activities did not cease.  We wrote a play about Julius Caesar, which we performed with an Italian accent, followed by a Nativity play in Yiddish inflected English.  How we got away with what today would be considered politically incorrect behavior is still a mystery to me; but those plays, and others we did together, including a British murder mystery, in which we played Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson with the appropriate British accents, were performed in the school auditorium in front of the entire school body.

During 7th grade Bob and I also initiated an activity that we would pursue well into high school.  We spent every Saturday walking all over Cape Ann.  Beginning with Ravenswood Park, where we explored every trail in detail, we branched out to Dogtown, which we crossed to Rockport many times.   There was not a single Gloucester neighborhood we had not traversed on foot, or any place on the waterfront that we did not come to know intimately.   One of our signal achievements was to have walked entirely around Cape Ann, beginning in downtown Gloucester and walking to Rockport, Pigeon Cove, Lanesville, Bay View, Riverdale and back to Bob’s house on Mansfield Street.

We did it in a single day, carrying water in canteens and packing lunches that our mothers had prepared for us.  There were no cellphones or public phones from which we might report our progress.  Always during these walks we observed nature carefully, gathering specimens of plants and wildflowers or marine life that we examined by microscope in the laboratory I had set up in the basement of my house on Perkins Road.

Looking back on Bob’s artistic career,  it is my belief that his minute depiction of Gloucester places and objects, his grasp of buildings, wharves, rocks, beaches, tidal eddies, surf, trees, bushes, flora and fauna originated in part from the experiences of those walks during which nothing was lost on either of us.  Our early walks resulted in a lifelong habit of my own of walking all over the city of my birth and writing about it in my weekly column for the Gloucester Times, “This Side of the Cut.”

Bob’s artistry was nurtured at Central Grammar by our art teachers, Jean Nugent in 7th grade and Edna Hodgkin’s in 8th.  Both were practicing artists, as was the city’s art supervisor Hale Anthony Johnson, who had taught us all the rudiments of art since first grade, along with the history of the visual arts on Cape Ann.

But it was at Gloucester High School, that amazing WPA modernist building we had the privilege of attending classes in during the 1950s, where Bob came under the influence of Gloucester’s greatest art teacher, the native-born painter Howard Curtis, who was head of the art department.  Comprising an entire wing of the school, the art department had state of the art equipment and the benefit of northern light, because Howard and the preceding art teacher, Muriel Spofford, had insisted to the architects that the original siting of the school be rotated to take advantage of the light itself.

It would be an understatement to say that the influence of Howard Curtis on Bob’s art was profound.  Curtis, a distinguished artist who had exhibited widely, along with painting or restoring earlier murals in city buildings, was a remarkable teacher.  Learned, articulate and engaging, he held sway in his two-room classroom-studio from before school in the morning until late in the afternoon.   In those classrooms, whose walls were hung with the finest examples of world art, you could find students, some of whom did not even study art, in deep conversation with “Mr. Curtis,” as we all respectfully called him.   The subjects were wide and diverse, from the forms of Medieval and Renaissance  painting and questions of perspective to abstract philosophical issues about the origins and fate of man.  Curtis himself was a deeply meditative spiritualist, a mystic, in some ways, as I look back on him.   This part of his nature and his teaching must clearly have had an impact on Bob’s future art, which has a profoundly spiritual dimension, influenced as well by Bob’s immersion in Buddhism, prompted by his time spent in the Far East during his military service.

Taken together, Bob’s encyclopedic knowledge of Gloucester terrain and his spiritual vision, in part the influence of Howard Curtis and in part his Eastern knowledge and practice, provide a lens through which we can view and understand the astounding production of his paintings.  Many were completed in his first studio on the top floor of Brown’s former department store, later in the studio he occupied at the Fitz Henry Lane House, and finally at his remarkable studio on Parsons Street, just off Main, a former garage, which Bob, with the help of friends, converted into a living and working space that took advantage of a marvelous view of the waterfront and wonderful light throughout the day.  It was a studio, like those of the Florentine masters, that was open to all during Bob’s working hours.  It was not unusual to find friends visiting while Bob painted, or a conversation ongoing about the state of the world, about which Bob had many opinions, pungently expressed.

Everyone has a story about Bob, and I will conclude with one of my own.

It was late in 1959.  I was living in Florence, studying Medieval literature at the university and about to begin teaching English at the International Academy.  Bob was stationed in Germany with the US Army.  He wrote to tell me that he had some leave coming and wished to visit me in Florence.  I had not seen Bob since I was in college and he was attending art school in Boston, prior to his induction into the army, so I jumped at the opportunity.  Bob was due to arrive on the Brenner Express, so I went to meet his train at the railroad station.   As I stood on the platform, I observed a group of Germans getting off the train, all of them speaking excitedly in their own language.  Bob was among them, conversing in what I later learned was perfect German.  He was also dressed in German clothing, a gray Loden jacket and a dark green Alpine hat with a feather in it.

Bob stayed in the Pensione Cordova in Via Cavour, where I had been living since early fall.  His room had a marvelous view of the Duomo from its window.  Soon Bob set about drawing everything he saw as we walked (of course) over every inch of the fabulous city that was to become my home for three years.   From his study of art history Bob was familiar with the storied buildings and monuments, and his knowledge of the art was extensive.  As we walked through the galleries of the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace, Bob paused to explain what artists like Botticelli had in mind as they concentrated on the placement of figures or the overall structure of the work.   We explored the interiors of the great cathedrals and churches, from the Duomo to San Miniato, adjacent to which was a vast cemetery which fascinated Bob (my friend Paul Hamilton, who was studying art in Florence took some pictures of us in that cemetery, one of which is posted here).

Back in the pensione, I introduced Bob to another resident, Carlo Cirelli, a young artist from Ferrara, who worked designing shoes for a local company.  When Carlo saw Bob’s drawings and watercolors of Florence he asked Bob if he would ever consider designing shoes.

“I’ll take a crack at it,” Bob said, setting to work with his pencil and watercolors he borrowed from Carlo.   We left him alone for a while, and when he said the design was done, Carlo and I went to look at it.  Instead of an elegant Italian shoe, Bob had painted what looked like a worn out work boot, brown, scuffed and with turned over heels.  Along the edge of the boot he had painted a wooden match stick, inserted between the shoe and the sole.  The match was on fire and would naturally have resulted in a “hot foot” for the wearer of the shoe.  This was Bob at his best, using art to make a point about the vanity of fancy footwear.

I did not see Bob again until his retirement from the military when we were both again living in Gloucester.  From time to time I would visit his Parsons Street studio to see what he had been up to.   When I reminded him about his visit to Florence and the shoe, his eyes twinkled.   “I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d started a fad,” he said.  “You know how clever those Italians are!”

​Peter Anastas​

___________________________________________________________________________________

The Most Original Native Artist of His Time​

by Ernest Morin​

Bob Ste​ph​enson, like F​itz Henry​ Lane​, ​ was a Gloucester boy.  He also shared with Lane a real sense of light and love of the harbor and city. I met him when he had his studio in Lane​’​s house.

Bob Stephenson Photo Courtesy of Greg Cook

Bob Stephenson
Photo Courtesy of Greg Cook

When it came to subject matter however Bob Stephenson was not a realist. His canvas would be a place to situate dream, myth, reality, symbols and spirituality. He would combine an eastern sensibility towards use of space and western techniques of painting with scenes that were both drawn from local reality and greatly fabricated to fit artistically into the Stephenson paradigm, a very original paradigm.

His skill and technique with paint was extreme, he was a master at use of glazing, applying hot near cold color of designing a series of spaces within spaces that had strong push pull, repetitive form, harmony culminating in complex compositions that were layered with meaning.

He also did this in a way that was simple and abstract at heart – in the way an Edward Hopper is real yet truly abstract.

Stephenson labored intensely over 6 or 8 canvases at a time. ​ ​They were works to be pondered, to be massaged, to be coaxed into life one nuance at a time once they were cohesive. His art wasn’t rushed; he didn’t produce product.

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Gloucester Fishermen’s Memorial Service, August 22, 2015

Fishermen's Memorial 2015

fish mem 2 2015

From: Maximus, to Gloucester, July 19, 1957

A fisherman is not a successful man
he is not a famous man he is not a man
of power, these are the damned by God

When a man’s coffin is the sea
the whole of creation shall come to his funeral

it turns out the globe
is below, all lapis
and its blue surface golded
by what happened

this afternoon, there are eyes
in the water

the flowers
from the shore

awakened
the sea

Men are so sure they know very many things
they don’t even know night and day are one

A fisherman works without reference to
that difference.  It is possible he also

by lying there when he does lie, the jowl
to the sea, has another advantage, it is said.

‘You rectify what can be rectified,’ and when a man’s heart
cannot see this, the door of his divine intelligence is shut

Let you who paraded to the Cut today
to hold memorial services to all fishermen
who have been lost at sea. . .

not knowing what a fisherman is
instead of going straight to the Bridge

and doing no  more than–saying no more than–
in the Charybdises of the
Cut waters the flowers tear off
the wreathes

the flowers
turn
the character of the sea  The sea jumps
the fate of the flower  The drowned men are undrowned
in the eddies

of the eyes
of the flowers
opening
the sea’s eyes

Charles Olson

downloadPlease enjoy this clip from the film, Captains Courageous, which illustrates the treacherous life of the Gloucester fisherman.

Poem by Kent Bowker – Gloucester in 2042

NoTressJM12 (2)

No Trespassing #17 Jeffrey Marshall (c) 2012

 

 

 

2042

 

Acidic sea, the jelly fish swarm, bonanza

declares the Gloucester Daily Times, July 21 2042

‘fishing hasn’t been this good for decades’

and on the sixth and last page

photos of Dog Town then and Now.

A century apart both treeless but cultivated now

burned off a while ago, been fixed up since then.

The office of Enviromental Crisis told us today, page 3,

‘the sea level rise seems to be leveling off now at  10 feet

ending the period of rapid change’, that’s a relief.

 

The wide Annisquam roars across what used to be the Cut

sloshing back and forth eroding the old drawbridge

and sea wall, covered now, except at low tide.

Mayor declares region hazardous, forbids walking on the wall.

 

The Times tells us the railroad bridge, close to the water

needs fixing again to keep Gloucester’s rocky island cluster

connected to the scattered  islands going to the mainland.

Bridge repairs necessary, ‘recent storms have damaged

the bridges to East Gloucester Island, and Eastern Pt. Isl.’

‘Lighthouse status precarious’ declares Coast Guard.

 

A memorial is planned for the tragic death of Mae Porter

died in a fire on Brier Neck Island.

The fire boat couldn’t reach the Isle

high seas in the Good Harbor inlet blamed.

 

Well, that’s today’s news,

not too bad, considering….

 

Kent Bowker 2015

 

 

Kent Bowker

 

 

 

Kent Bowker  started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics.  His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past.  He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.

 

 

 

The First Sentence- New Poetry by Robert Gibbons

Stoffa (2)

The Old Fish Shack           Michael Stoffa (1923-2001)

 

The First Sentence

 

It’s not often

a poet allows

him or herself

to do nothing, but

I just accomplished

this rare occurrence out

here in the newly renovated

shed, an effort of two weeks

scrubbing, sanding, painting,

repairing hole in ceiling, not to

mention chasing years’ worth of

insects back to nature.

 

It’s based on Scandinavian

disconnects I read about called

Hermit Huts, everything’s unplugged.

There was one photo in the article, an interior

so simple it made me think of van Gogh’s room,

& fondly recalled a similar space in Mexico, when

Manuel Avila Camacho compared our $40-month shack

to Vincent’s in Arles.

 

Although I’m the least handy of men

other than a certain propensity

toward bricolage in language,

I thought while looking at

the photo & its caption,

cozy 84-square-foot hut,

“I can do that!!”

 

The woods of Gotland Island, Sweden’s

got nothing on our backyard here in Portland.

I’m not losing sight of this accomplishment mentioned

earlier, what, poet doing nothing for a change? Lasted ten

minutes, after nailing latest curtain on windows facing West,

making shade against lowering August afternoon sun. Stan Getz

came on Jazz Radio out of San Francisco with Dreams from his album

Voyage, which I pulled in unplugged, battery only on indispensable computer,

doing nothing other than staring listening dreaming traveling readying to jot down

the first sentence come to mind.

 

-Robert Gibbons

 

 

 

 

Robert Gibbons

Robert Gibbons, a former Gloucester resident, is the author of nine books of poetry. In 2013, in addition to completing a Trilogy of prose poems with Nine Point Publishing,  he published Olson/Still: Crossroad, a brief study concerning the similarities in approach to art by Olson in words, and Clyfford Still in paint.

 

 

 

 

Sailing with Alex

Sailing with Alex

By Thomas Welch

 

 

Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you’d think Alex Thomas would be passionate about cheese….or beer….or the Green Bay Packers.

Nope.

22 years ago Alex met and fell in love with his wife, Diane, whose dream it was to live on the coast of New England. So by “dumb luck” (as Alex describes it) they landed in Gloucester, settling in Bay View and raising their two children, Emma and Isaiah.

Alex quickly discovered his other great passion…Gloucester Harbor! Already an experienced sailor (he was a Sea Scout on Lake Michigan), Alex now keeps his 26-foot Typhoon sailboat moored off Rocky Neck.

It was blowing about 10-15 when Alex picked me up to go for a sail, but 20 minutes later, by the time we put in at Stevens Landing on Rocky Neck, the wind had come up to 20-25 mph. “No problem”, says Alex.

alex 3

 

alex 2

 

With a confidence only years of experience can provide, Alex sets the tiller hard to Port, knowing she’ll fall off that way, he lets the mooring go. As if eagerly following some unspoken command, the vessel quickly brings her bow about, fills her sails and takes off, skipping over waves toward the western shore. Though it’s early August, this much Northerly wind not only invigorates the senses, it requires a light wind breaker to protect against the cold spray off the bow.

We enjoy an afternoon ripping back and forth from Niles Beach to Stage Fort Park, passing just south of the big rock off Ten Pound Island on every tack.

One of the many special gifts of spending a lot of time on Gloucester Harbor is the camaraderie you share with the other “regulars”.  Even if you’ve never been formally introduced you “know” them by their boat, their seamanship and their reputations. Alex offers a smile, wave and nod to Capt. Heath Ellis and his passengers on the schooner “Thomas E. Lannon” as we fly by each other, starboard to starboard. The same pleasantries are exchange with the happy passengers aboard the Charter fishing boat “WEJACK”, anchored on the fish at one of Capt. Joe Arsenault’s “sweet spots” in the Outer Harbor.

What a great way to spend an afternoon. Bonding with Nature. Reading Wind and Wave and reacting in accordance and respect of their power, enriching your Soul.

Alex is a perfect example of the thousands of residents who have settled in Gloucester over the years and embraced it. He makes a valuable contribution to the community by not only appreciating the Heritage and the amazing natural resources, but, more importantly becoming part of them.

 

By the way, if you know, or get introduced to, Alex Thomas in the next few weeks,  wish him luck. He and his dorymate, Donnie Favalora will be representing the U.S. in the Senior Division of the International Dory Races in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on August 29th!

 

alex 1

 

The Value of Affordable Housing

hopper house andersom

Anderson House, 1923 Edward Hopper

What is the value to a community of affordable housing?

 Gloucester citizens are discussing the issue now, in light of a new proposal for rental housing on Main Street. The third of three public meetings on the proposal will be held Thursday, August 27 at the Sawyer Free Library at 6 pm.

(Read the page one story in the August 1, 2015 Gloucester Daily Times here.)

Enduring Gloucester columnist Mike Cook weighs in:

Future ads for Gloucester real estate?

 
“For Sale; two luxury condominiums in historic Fort Square. Located in a fully restored landmark home, these two units boast all the charm and luxury of 21st century living in an authentic, early 20th century, Fort Square residence. Each unit has two bedrooms, and two baths. The living rooms in each unit have panoramic views of not just Gloucester Harbor but the entire  coastline of the North Shore south to Boston. The large eat in kitchens have all stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and teak, that’s right, teak cabinetry to enhance the sensation of living so close to the sea. If you can’t prepare gourmet meals on your own teak sail boat, you can pretend you are at sea while preparing sumptuous meals for friends and family in a neighborhood being increasingly referred to as ‘Louisburg Square by the Sea’. Don’t miss out on this ground floor opportunity to own a home in what promises to be one of Gloucester’s most prestigious and sought after ‘new’ neighborhoods. Asking price for the first floor unit is $675,000, for the second floor unit with views that, truly, defy description, the asking price is just $740,000.”
“Investors Take Note; This vintage, late 19th century, three family home in the up and coming “Portagee Hill’ neighborhood of historic Gloucester is an opportunity not to be missed. Located on Friend Street, the second and third floor units have sweeping views of Gloucester Harbor, the new 360 slip marina, and the world famous artist colony Rocky Neck in the distance. Each unit features two bedrooms, one and a half baths, hardwood floors, and mahogany wood work that harkens back to an earlier, more genteel era. In need of a little TLC, this gem offers buyers numerous options and opportunities. Living in one unit and letting the other two pay your mortgage is one such option. Another, given the property’s proximity to Gloucester’s increasingly upscale  downtown, bustling waterfront restaurant and entertainment district, and the exclusive Beauport Hotel is to rent each unit weekly during the summer months. One owner  of another three family home in the neighborhood that has been completely restored is renting two of the three units in that home for $1500 a week in the peak summer months of July and August.”

Please call realtor Michael Cook for an opportunity to view these two distinctive properties, but don’t procrastinate. Gloucester is finally poised to become as desirable and exclusive a seaside community to live in as Newburyport, Portsmouth, Provincetown, and Nantucket have long been. These two properties, along with several other of my listings, offer people with vision the chance to seize a moment that, at least in real estate terms, comes along just once in a lifetime

 

Okay, all of the above is a tongue in cheek work of fiction and figment of my imagination but I share it because, with the once- bustling fishing industry likely changed forever, the pressure from real estate and tourism industry interests to gentrify Gloucester in an effort to replace the jobs and economic base lost to the decline of  fishing with high end, upscale tourism is only going to increase.

Now, Gloucester is a geographically and architecturally blessed city, so some gentrification is unavoidable, even desirable. Likewise,  Gloucester’s many  natural resources, from its  beaches and still deep woods, to its quarries and scenic inlets, lend themselves, rightfully so, to  the tourism industry being an important element of the city’s economic foundation.

Done responsibly and reasonably, along with  genuine efforts to maintain the true “working waterfront” tradition for which Gloucester is so famous, by encouraging marine research and environmental projects and firms to come to Gloucester, the city may still have an opportunity to succeed in embracing both change and its history in ways communities like Provincetown, Portsmouth, Nantucket, and Newburyport have not.

In the interest of space, I am going to simply focus on Provincetown – a community that may, on the surface, seem very different from Gloucester but, when looked at more closely, one discovers an amazing number of similarities.

First, both communities are blessed with an almost unrivaled degree of physical and natural beauty.

Gloucester’s sandy beaches and rocky shorelines, and Provincetown’s vast expanses of sand dunes and miles long beaches make both locales, in my opinion, two of the most beautiful places on the planet. The light on Cape Ann and here at “Land’s End”, for example, is like no other place on earth. It’s little wonder artists of the caliber of Edward Hopper so loved both places.

Second, both communities share a heritage of hardworking fishing families, many of Portuguese descent, who carved out lives and livings in two geographic locations many less hardy folk found too hostile to call home.

In the case of Provincetown, thanks in large part to those hard working fishing families and the town’s character and charm, “Land’s End”, through the years,  attracted and supported a wide array of people – artists, writers, craftsmen, small business owners, the people who mixed the drinks, served the food, and manned the shops and galleries, gay, and straight. Many settled in to living year round by the edge of the sea. They were able to do so, when all is said and done, because of the underlying  financial and communal stability the fishing industry provided.

But over the last twenty years, as the fishing industry has faced one challenge after another, things began to change – and change dramatically.

Many of those old Portuguese fishing families have left. Captains sold their boats and their homes and moved “off Cape”. People those family fishing enterprises,  and the other businesses related to them, employed who stayed at “Land’s End” found temporary haven in the tourism industry.

But as more and more multi-family homes in town were sold and their once affordable, year round apartments converted into high end, seasonal, condominium, rental properties, the working people who remained have found it harder and harder to find anything that remotely resembles permanent, reasonably priced housing.

As a result, many of those long time year round residents and workers have left. Many did so with heavy hearts and great sadness, but the need for stable housing overrode their love of this once- special place.

The decline of the fishing industry fueled the growth of the tourism industry here as its replacement, but the tourism industry has not produced the kinds of jobs that pay workers enough to live in a community that has become little more than  a New England version of Fire Island in New York.

Today in Provincetown, many of those American employees in the shops, galleries, restaurants, and guest houses have been replaced with Jamaican workers and  eastern European college students who often pay as much as $200 a week, not for a room but for a bunk in a room they share with three other people.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a tragedy was narrowly averted in one of those workers’ boarding houses by the quick actions of the rescue squad when the furnace in this particular flop house malfunctioned, filling the house with noxious smoke. Four young Bulgarian co-eds living in a room on the third floor were so frightened that they could only be coaxed from their room by a fireman who risked his own life to lead the young women to safety.

I work with a young Russian student who told me he and five of his Russian friends pay $175 a week each to sleep on  air mattresses in the basement of a house owned by a member of Provincetown’s police department. They share one bathroom and have no kitchen privileges.

A few months ago, Provincetown hired a new town manager, only to have that individual resign shortly after being hired. Why? He could find no place to call home. His salary was not enough to be able to buy a home here, and the lack of year round rental units due to the ability of owners to get $2000 a week for a four hundred square foot condo in the months of July, August, and September, left him no choice but to conclude Provincetown was not a place he could afford to call home.

Now, I am not suggesting that what has happened to Provincetown will be Gloucester’s fate, but if people don’t pay close attention to the changes coming to Gloucester in the wake of the fishing industry’s decline, there is a very real danger that something not unlike what happened here in Provincetown could unfold in Fishtown. I say that because there are more than a few who believe tourism will replace the fishing industry as the economic mainstay of the city, and the fact that living in seaside communities has become, for lack of a better word, a real status symbol in early 21st century New England.

As if to offer a bit of foreshadowing as to what Gloucester’s future might look like, last year I overheard the executive chef and general manager of the restaurant I worked at in Gloucester for two seasons discussing the staffing problems they will likely face in the near future as the cost of housing on the island goes ever higher. One possible solution they were contemplating was to encourage the owners of the property the restaurant is located on to convert at least one of the unused buildings on the property into seasonal employee dormitory housing.

What has happened to the once- vibrant community of Provincetown is truly tragic.  I offer this essay to friends in Gloucester in the hope it will motivate them to do all all they can to prevent what has happened here to happen to Gloucester.

The clock is ticking and once the changes come, they will be all but impossible to undo.

Sadly, the fictional real estate listings above are not likely to be fictional for very much longer. The process of converting Fort Square into “Louisburg Square by the Sea”, and “Portagee” Hill into “Beacon Hill by the Bay”, is probably further along than many people realize.

 

 

mike_cook

Mike Cook  is a long time liberal and gay rights activist who saw the uniqueness of Gloucester from the first moment he drove over the bridge during his move from Cambridge to Cape Ann in 1991 to run NUVA’s AIDS education and services programs.

#affordablehousing