Jim Lynch: My Favorite Veteran

Justin Demetri

On a rainy Armistice Day my thoughts and prayers go out to my favorite Vet, James J. Lynch as he recovers from a serious fall…Get well my friend.

To me the most interesting man in the world is not the guy from the Dos Equis commercials; it is a 91-year-old gentleman who lives down the Fort in what many of us still call “Dutchie’s House.” For over 15 years, Jim Lynch has been more than a best friend, he’s my mentor, my Master Yoda, if you will; and along with the late great Joe Garland another set of shoulders that I stand upon. Jim has been so influential to me that it’s hard to pinpoint all that he has done. But anyone who has talked with Jim, either down the Fort playground, at the Sawyer Free Library, or even aboard the schooner ARDELLE, realizes very quickly that he has lived a life straight out of a Hollywood script. In honor of his service, here are just a few of his adventures during World War II.

As a kid Jim spent his summers aboard his family’s fishing schooners where he learned the art of navigation from his grandfather and uncles. By 1939, with German U-Boats starting their patrols, his grandfather was reluctant to have him aboard. When America joined the Allies in 1941, Jim

Jim Lynch

Jim Lynch

signed on to the Merchant Marine, and with his fishing background was made a lieutenant. He was to be a navigator on the perilous Murmansk Runs – large, poorly protected convoys to the Soviet port of Murmansk to keep the USSR in the war. Part of his training was an intensive crash-course in conversational Russian that would serve him far beyond the war years.

In May of 1942, Jim was part of a convoy on its way to Murmansk from Philadelphia. While steaming past Jan Mayen Island in the Arctic Ocean, German bombers came in almost at mast-height and bombed the ships. A direct hit sent Jim into the icy water as the ship went down.  The long day this far North allowed him to find some floating wreckage to climb upon. As he lay floating there with hypothermia beginning to take hold, he was rescued by the Soviet freighter the STARY BOLSHEVIK, heading to Murmansk with a cargo of high-octane gasoline from Texas. They threw a line and Jim had just enough energy to tie a bowline around his waist as they hauled him on deck. He was surprised to find the captain and all of the officers were women. They did not waste time as they set him up on the ship’s boiler to get his core body temperature back, while on the way to Murmansk. When Jim tells this story today he usually ends it with “it made a Christian out of me.”


Jim’s ship was ordered to deliver mobile artillery during the landing at Salerno. The captain of this ship didn’t like Jim, one time saying, “You’re Irish, You’re a fisherman and you’re from the North….You’ll never be any good to me.” He ordered Jim to the battle bridge in the stern. By exiling him aft he saved Jim’s life. German fighter bombers swept in equipped with the latest in Nazi super weapons: Hs model remote guided rockets, the precursor to today’s cruise missiles. One of these flew right into the bridge and killed most of the bridge crew. Now it was up to Jim, highest ranking surviving officer, to run back to the ruined bridge and pull the damaged ship out of the line. I won’t describe what he found once he got there, but I have no idea how he sleeps at night…

The Raid at Bari

Jim barely survived the German raid at Bari, Italy in 1943. The Allies had ships filled with mustard gas containers in the port. The official story is that these banned weapons were being prepared in case the Nazis used chemical weapons in Yugoslavia or Greece. Jim knew what was on the ships–his ship was tied up next to them. When the German bombers flew over the ships and dropped conventional bombs, the mustard gas in the ship holds was released. Jim was once again thrown overboard from an explosion, but this time he was covered in oil, contaminated with mustard gas. Jim was mostly blind for the next three months but fared better than the 2000 military and civilians that were killed from the gas. This little known event was covered up until the late 1950’s.

Jim had many more exploits during the war, which took him to most of the major Allied ports, from Archangel to Asmara. He spent time in the Adriatic ferrying Frogmen and Partisans from Italy to Yugoslavia under German fire. It was there he met members of Italy’s exiled nobility fighting for the Allies and became life-long friends with the Duke of Colonna, the Count of Montezemolo and Venetian banking families. By the end of the war in Europe, Jim was back in the Soviet Union, where he celebrated V-E Day on the Eastern Front with Russian champagne and the thunderous singing of hundreds of Cossacks. The war was over for Europe but not for Jim. Due to the fact that Jim knew where the Germans laid mines in the Black Sea, Stalin “invited” him to stay and help with their removal. Jim didn’t return home until 1947. In the 1990’s Boris Yeltsin invited Jim and the other Murmansk Run survivors to return and they were recognized as Heroes of the Great Patriotic War.

This is only a sample of Jim’s war stories, but one thing they all have in common is his message that all he was trying to do was to stay alive: a fisherman who was just doing his duty for his country. Whoever Jim Lynch was before the war, a stronger but still honest and true version emerged from the USSR in 1947. And for those like me who have the privilege of knowing Jim, we know that his wartime exploits only set the stage for the amazing career and the wonderful family that would soon follow.

Schooner Ardelle

Here’s to you Jim!


Justin Demetri

Justin Demetri

Justin Demetri grew up “Down the Fort” in one of the many families that comprised Gloucester’s Italian fishing fleet. He spent his childhood among the fishermen, the boats and the wharves. At age 12, Justin gave the first cash donation to the newly arrived Schooner Adventure, leading to a friendship with author and historian Joseph E. Garland. This was the spark that would lead to a love of writing and an appreciation for the special place he still calls home. His interests include researching local maritime history and exploring his family’s Sicilian fishing heritage. His works on Italian history, culture and food can be found at LifeinItaly.com. Justin holds a degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts/Boston and is the Director of Visitor Services for the Essex Shipbuilding Museum.

Giving Thanks

A wish to all of you from all of us at Enduring Gloucester…   may you have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving, filled with many blessings.

“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gloucester Landscape 1919 Stuart Davis (1892-19640

Gloucester Landscape 1919
Stuart Davis (1892-1964)

Pot Luck

Laurel Tarantino

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will never have a formal dining room.  You know the kind I mean, a room with a long handsome table that seats ten or twenty people, with water glasses, stemmed goblets for wine, fine china and fingerbowls.  The kind of table where I would have to question, “Which fork is this, my salad fork, or is it for the main course?” A room where there are old fine art oil paintings that adorn the walls, lit by brass lamps that reflect the mastery of the artist.  Oh, and candles, how they’ll set the mood for an exquisite evening.

No, I may never know what it’s like to dine in such a formal setting, but I do know fine dining.  I’ve found a dining experience that fits into my life just perfectly, and I can’t imagine a month without one.  Pot Luck dining: I don’t know where these dinners originated, I like to think they started right here in New England.   I’m not going to “Google” them on line to learn their history, but one thing I do know, whoever came up with the concept was a genius.

I can’t remember my first, perhaps it was at the Fire Station in Lovell, Maine, where it seemed the entire town showed up to socialize.  I’m always tempted to stop at those suppers you see advertised on a hand painted board “Church Supper Tonight, All Are Welcome,” but it’s usually last minute that I see them and I was brought up never to show up empty handed.  So I smile instead for those inside enjoying their community gathering.

I have a small group that gets together to play what we call “Extreme Croquet,” mostly during the not-so-perfect weather days, hence the name “Extreme.”  One Saturday a month, at High Noon, weExtreme Croquet meet for the fun and the bragging rights of taking the win on the course.  There may be briar, knee deep grass, waist high snow, rain, or other obstacles on the course.  Always, there is friendly ribbing…   “Watch him, he cheats!  Send Him, Send Him Long.”  And always, always, there is laughter in abundance and a great variety of food in between rounds.  A quiet comes over the room as folks warm up with some of Helen’s chowder, a mound of Shepherds’ Pie, or a slice of Tracy’s extreme lemon cake.Extreme Lemon Cake

So, I may have only won bragging rights once in 20 or 30 games, but I surely come out on top each time I go, from the friendship, fresh air filled with the sounds of friend’s voices, and that wonderful, ever present “Pot Luck” meal.

Fast forward now, to a boat building shop on Harbor Loop.  The building itself is part of Gloucester’s Maritime Heritage Center.  Why they took the word “Heritage” out of the name is beyond me and a whole other story.

Anyway, when I bump into Geno he’ll say, “Hey, we’re going to be cooking this Saturday, you should come by if you can.” Or: “We’re getting together this weekend,” and the one I’m always sad to hear: “We’ve been getting together, I haven’t seen you in a while, where’ve you been?”  Life.  Why is it that life sometimes gets in the way of being somewhere we’d like to be, doing what we’d like to do?

Back to the Dory Shop.  There’s usually a boat in the process of being built on any given Saturday afternoon you step through the old wood sliding door.  Hopefully, for our purpose, it’s at the stage where it’s upside down and we can use the bottom for our table.   One of my fondest memories was hearing someone yell from inside the shop “Hey Geno, we need a bigger boat,” as people kept arriving with more food.   There’s plenty of sawdust, boat building tools and warmth from the wood stove that will surely have something good cooking on it.

Cooking on the wood stove at the Dory Shop

Cooking on the wood stove at the Dory Shop

Remove the lid from the cast iron skillet and catch a fine mouth-watering aroma taking the chill out of a November day.

Tom will most likely arrive with rosy cheeks, a bucket of steamers and a few lobsters he hauled just that morning.  Someone may bring Finnan Haddie, home baked beans, a salad, sweets… Ever hear of a “Gloucester Lollipop?”  We have those too, when Joe comes in with his Mackerel on a stick and what a treat when Geno makes his fish cakes and calls from the wood stove to get ‘em while they last.  You never know what you’ll get, but a guarantee is that you will be welcomed, you will be well fed, and you’ll have such a grand time that you’ll want to return again and again.

An added bonus to Saturday afternoon’s at the Dory Shop would be the music. Someone is bound to bring an instrument or a pretty voice to entertain for a spell.  Want to dance?  Go ahead, no one judges you here.

Music at the Dory Shop

Music at the Dory Shop

Perhaps others will join you, or try and sing along. It’s okay if you don’t know the words.  Just don’t sit in the rocking chair if it’s empty. That’s Joe’s chair and he’s too much of a gentleman to tell you so.  It’s just a given for those of us who’ve been around a while.  The way I hear it, Geno started these Saturday afternoon “Pot Lucks” so he would have something fun to do with his uncle.  How wonderful for us that we benefit from these kind souls.



I bring you a bit away from the waterfront, to a two-car garage that houses no cars, behind Burnham’s Field.  I call these pot luck meals “Sunday Dinner at Joe’s Garage.” I have an entire photo album just for these meals.  Some of the photos include Joe gathering mussels off theGathering Mussels seaweed beds of Ten Pound Island with his daughter, to be later photographed in a pan of garlic, fresh tomatoes and wine.  Oh, and the fresh bread!

Bread is always warm at Joe's Garage

Bread is always warm at Joe’s Garage

Joe makes loaves every time.  Hot from the industrial restaurant style ovens, smothered in sesame seed, a true gift for your taste buds.  How many pictures of food can you take?  I don’t know yet, I’m still working on it.  I know for sure, there’ll be more delights coming from Sunday Dinner at Joe’s Garage.  Homemade sausage, pizzas, linguini with the clam sauce, countless photo ops.

Today I’m at another friend’s house for “Patriots Football.”  I’m among some of my dearest of friends and they all know I’m not here to watch football.  Oh, I do hope the Patriots continue with their winning streak, but it is certainly not the foremost reason for being here.  It’s the nourishment of friendship, good eats and conversations, before, during half time and after the game that feed me.  Even the dogs are happy to be invited.  Maybe someone will toss them a scrap; in the meantime, they run and play in the autumn sunshine.    This group of people take turns each time there is a one o’clock game on a Sunday.  One week it might be at Maria’s or June’s, perhaps a Harvest Meal at Lenny and Ricks, wherever it may be any particular week is the place I want to be.

I can hear cheers from the other room, the Pats must be winning.  From where I sit, we have all won for this day we’ve been given together.

There are so many ways we enjoy ourselves.  I find for me they generally involve food.  The Fort Gang feasts at different friends’ homes during St. Peter’s Fiesta, celebrating the Fourth of July with the same crew and then some in Rockport.  Bringing a dish to the Orchard Street Parade where the famous “Hat Ladies” debut their incredible work.   St. Joseph’s Feast at Auntie Emma’s, which starts before most are out of bed to make the pasta.  All memories that make forever stories to be told time and again.

So folks, if you’ve never experienced it, I highly recommend it…   call it what you will, “Pot Luck Dinner, Pot Luck Lunch, Sunday Dinner at Joe’s Garage.” Make up your own excuse, just do it.  Get together with your friends, share in the making of the meal, and eat it together, be it leaning on a porch railing or the bottom of an overturned boat.  Rain, snow, sunshine or under the stars, simply enjoy each other’s company.

If you want to “Google” the origins of Pot Luck, please let me know what you find.  I imagine they’ve been around since time began.  Surely, because of them, I dine on the best food on earth, in the finest settings, surrounded by the laughter and love of friendships old and new.

It doesn't get any better than this...



Laurel TarantinoLaurel Tarantino, writer, is happy to live in her hometown, Gloucester, with her husband, James,”Jimmy T,” daughter Marina Bella, and the family dog, Sport. She is known for “stopping to smell the roses” and loves to photograph and write about her beloved waterfront community.




Hear Her Roar

Lori Sanborn

For the first twenty-five plus years of my life, I felt more connected to the male gender. Throughout my middle school, high school, and college years I had way more male friends than female ones. Of course, I had a few girls that I trusted and could tell anything to. And one or two, who I was really close to that I would even smoke Marlboros with and cut class. But overall, at these stages of my life, I felt more comfortable around males. I was even able more readily to

Nancy Sanborn (my Mom), Meagan Sanborn (sister) & me

Nancy Sanborn (my Mom), Meagan Sanborn (sister) & me

admire males over females. But then I turned thirty, and from that point on, my perspective had changed entirely.

During the last five years of my life, I have witnessed countless acts of unwavering courage and unbelievable strength from women in my circle of friends, women from our seaside community, and from one of the most important women in my life, my sister.

I have some badass girlfriends. Not because they ride Harleys or remain standing after pounding five shots of tequila. My friends endure. I have a friend who only cried once after being diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer. When “cancer” entered my world, I was on the bathroom floor unable to move. Yet when recalling her story, she actually smiled and told me she “had two boys to raise and they needed her.” She never looked back but rather dedicated herself to being the best mother she could be. Did I mention that she was also a single mom? Badass.

Another girlfriend of mine had her world turned upside down upon hearing that her mother had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Honestly, I would struggle to get out of bed if faced with such a circumstance. But in looking at my dear friend, one would never know of her struggle. She maintains a calmness and stick-to-itiveness that is admirable. She goes to work. She takes her mother to all of her doctor appointments, all while managing to hold down her own fort. She values her role as wife and mother. She doesn’t complain and is one of the most genuine women I know. Did I mention that she doesn’t drink? Badass.

Within our Gloucester community heroism is all around us. She is the woman that has the drive to start a new main street business and still raise four kids. She is the young woman that moves by herself to North Carolina to start anew.  She is the woman that can still believe in love after being lied to time and time again. She is the loyal wife of over 30 years. She is the woman that has the courage to file for divorce. She is the woman that can still raise a child after losing one.  She is the woman that can work more than one job to provide for her family. She is the woman that decides to follow her dream or face her fear.  She is the woman that runs for office. She is the woman that chooses to be a stay at home mom. She is the woman that has lost a spouse or sibling unexpectedly. She is the woman that faces a health scare of her own. She is the woman that ran the Boston Marathon. Did I mention that SHE doesn’t always roar?  Sometimes she just shows up, and that alone is enough. Badass.

My sister is one of those women who always shows up. No matter what time the hockey game is, no matter the hosting state, she is always in that rink for her sons.  And she’s probably there two hours ahead of time.  No matter how many times she has faced unfairness or less than desired

My sister, Meagan Sanborn and her son, Timmy

My sister, Meagan Sanborn and her son, Timmy

outcomes, she has pushed on. She never complains about being the sole provider, but rather has always found a way to provide. She always puts her boys first yet somehow finds a way to be there for her family and friends when they need her. She is the type of woman that shoots straight and knows just what you need and when you need it. Intuitively, she knows when to take you on a Backshore ride, grab her Macy’s card, or pour a big glass of wine. She is the woman that picked me up off that bathroom floor after I was misdiagnosed with lymphoma and spoke only this to me, “So, you’ll beat it.” She is the woman that hates hugs but can still make you feel loved and comforted.  Did I mention that she just closed on a new house for her and the boys? Badass.

It may have taken me thirty years to truly connect with the female gender. But in only five years “She” has taught me the real meaning of compassion, loyalty and above all, strength. Imagine what “She” will teach me in next twenty-five.

And this is not some feminist propaganda piece.  I could give you a thousand reasons why I love my Daddy.

~Lori Sanborn

lori sanborn

Lori Sanborn was born in Gloucester and returned to live permanently in our seaside community three years ago. She has been a public educator for 12 years, teaching eighth graders.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.