Children on the Beach. Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927)

Children on the Beach.                                Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927)

The Boston and Maine trains played an integral role in my summer vacations in Gloucester.  Now after reading the pieces written by Peter Anastas and Eric Schoonover I wondered if Enduring Gloucester’s readers could stand one more train story!  I hesitated then decided to take a chance. Trains seem to have played a memorable role in the lives of my generation.

1Pru - Train Depot

Each summer my mother and I would take the train from my small hometown in central Massachusetts to rendezvous in Boston at North Station with “Auntie” with whom I would spend my long awaited summer vacation days in Lanesville and Folly Cove.

While in Boston we shopped at Jordan Marsh and Filene’s for a new bathing suit for me and a new dress and shoes for the first day of school in September.  Then if I was lucky enough we might visit to Jack’s Joke Shop before riding the subway back to North Station and the Rockport line at Track 2. There I would say good-by to Mother and board the train to Gloucester with Auntie. In the early years engines were formidable, behemoth locomotives belching clouds of black smoke, later replaced by streamlined diesels.

2Pru - Train

My happy anticipation grew as we left the cities of Boston and Lynn behind and approached the Salem station.  At that point in our journey the lights were turned on in the passenger cars.  I knew what that meant. We were about to enter the tunnel.  How exciting that was to a four or five year old!

That event was followed by a sharp change in scenery.  After leaving the Beverly station there were glimpses of big houses, and blue ocean water.  And what was that funny sounding station…Montserrat? That stop was followed by Beverly Farms and Pride’s Crossing; then Manchester with sail boats in the harbor.

After passing the Lily Pond and the West Gloucester station, none too soon for me, the conductor would call out, “Gloucester, Gloucester.”

As we alighted from the train the familiar sights, sounds and smells left no doubt that we were really in Gloucester. Auntie and I then proceeded out to Washington Street to wait for the bus with me sitting on my suitcase in front of the Depot Café to wait for those big orange busses of the Gloucester Autobus Co.  We must watch for the bus that said “Lanesville, Folly Cove.”  That was very important. 3Pru - Orange bus Heaven forbid that we get on the wrong bus!

While impatiently waiting on the sidewalk I stared at the big house on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and thought it was quite wonderful.  It was almost new then.  It is still wonderful but, like me, showing its age.

The landscape soon became more and more familiar.  As the bus made its way along Washington Street Auntie, always a teacher, pointed out the old Ellery house and, on the opposite side of the road, the big yellow Babson house.  The construction of the rotary, Route 128 and the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge were still a distant idea.  Little did I know that these historical landmarks pointed out to me as a child would be so important to me as an avid preservationist many decades later.

Way down the road we traveled under the Riverdale Willows, saw the abandoned Hodgkins Tide Mill and crossed the causeway to Annisquam.  After a few more miles we passed the Consolidated Lobster Company at Hodgkins Cove. I was told with a slight tone of disapproval that their lobsters came from Nova Scotia and not as good as our Ipswich Bay lobsters.  Our lobsters would come from George Morey at Lanes Cove.

Shortly thereafter we went down one last hill and there was Plum Cove and the sandy beach!  Oh happy day! We’re almost there.

After stops in Lanesville the big orange bus traveled down Langsford Street until it approached Butman Avenue and Ranta’s Market.  It was extremely important to pull the overhead cord at just the right moment to tell the driver we wanted to get off, not too soon and not too late.

From there it was a short walk with Auntie dragging my suitcase (without wheels of course) up Butman Avenue to Washington Street after which it was downhill to Auntie’s house. The magic of my summer vacations was about to begin.

Every day was filled with fun at Plum Cove or Folly Cove.  Cloudy days were fun, too, with hikes through the woods on the Rockport Path to the Paper House in Pigeon Cove, picking blueberries, walking to Dogtown or a bus trip to Rocky Neck.  On Rocky Neck there was a wonderful shop that I loved called the La Petite Gallery.  Other trips to Bearskin Neck or shopping in downtown Gloucester filled the long summer days.  One trip to downtown each summer always included a stop at Gloucester’s vast City Hall so Auntie could pay her taxes.

It was with great sadness that at the end of August the trip by bus and train was reversed.  I huddled by the window hiding my face so no one would see my tears.  Next summer was such a long way off.

Every detail is forever burned in my brain.  Little did I know that Gloucester would become my permanent residence and that I would be living in Auntie’s house or that my children and grandchildren would also know the magic of summer in Lanesville.

Little did I know that in the warmer months I would be standing in the now so- called 1710 White-Ellery house, no longer across the road from the old yellow Babson house.  The ancient house is now located behind the Babson house and here is where once a month  in the summer I tell  visitors about the construction of the house and explain to them how it was moved across the road in 1947 to save it from demolition as Route 128 became a reality..

And that is where I was on the first Saturday in June as another summer on Cape Ann begins.


Prudence Fish

Prudence Fish, of Lanesville, is a published author and expert on antique New England houses. Read Prudence Fish’s blog, Antique Houses of Gloucester and Beyond.

Northeast Regional Planning Board Seeks Input

Ocean-Use-Map-Low 2

Northeast Regional Planning Board Seeks Input on Draft Ocean Plan

at Gloucester Public Meeting on June 13, 2016


The Northeast Regional Planning Board (RPB) is holding a public hearing to solicit public comment on the Draft Northeast Ocean Planning document.  The meeting is scheduled on Monday, June 13th at Maritime Gloucester at 6:00 pm If you cannot attend, you may file comments electronically at the link below.

The following topics are covered in the plan:

  • Regulatory and Management Context
  • Marine Life and Habitat
  • Cultural Resources
  • Marine Transportation
  • National Security
  • Commercial and Recreational Fishing
  • Recreation
  • Energy and Infrastructure
  • Aquaculture
  • Offshore Sand Resources
  • Restoration

The public comment deadline is July 25, 2016, and you can comment on each chapter electronically at each chapter landing page, in-person at any of our upcoming public comment meetings, through the comment form, or by submitting written comments to:

Betsy Nicholson, NE RPB Federal Co-lead
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Regional Office
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930-2276.

You may also provide comments by sending an e-mail to:

The RPB wants your feedback on this draft Plan. 

Northeast RPB principles:

  • Meaningful public participation. Reflect the knowledge, perspectives, and needs of ocean stakeholders— fishermen; scientists; boaters; environmental groups; leaders in the shipping, ports, and energy industries; and all New Englanders whose lives are touched by the ocean.





The Trains Took Us to School

©Eric Schoonover

Symphony of the East Wind. © 2016 David Tutwiler (b.1952)

Symphony of the East Wind.                                                                  © 2016 David Tutwiler (b.1952)

I like to see it lap the Miles—Emily Dickinson

By Eric Schoonover


I, too, as Peter Anastas (Enduring Gloucester, 13 April 2016), “come from the era of trains.”  In fact, my earliest understanding of Gloucester (probably 1942 or 1943) was of an enormous billboard advertising Gorton’s Codfish Cakes alongside the tracks of the Boston & Albany just outside of Boston, probably somewhere between Framingham and Natick. Little did I know that I was to move to Gloucester some sixty-five years later.

In those days, I favored sitting toward the end of the train so that I could see its full length as we went around curves—from the locomotive, the baggage and mail cars and then passenger cars. The locomotive belching black smoke and steam formed the focus of my view: perhaps a heavy Pacific, or a Hudson or, if lucky, a behemoth Berkshire pounding the earth with its immense power, perhaps let loose from a freight obligation to the West. Moreover, when sitting toward the rear, the cinders were not as aggressive, for in all but the coldest days, I sat with my head out of the window, reading the signals ahead, practicing for when I would grow up to be an engineer of a streamlined Hudson. Too, the trip was to Filene’s or Jordan’s war-limited counters with my mother. Her purpose was to buy fabric and patterns with which to make our clothing. (We could not afford off-the-hanger clothes in those days.) The real purpose of the trip was to enable my father to meet with his Ph.D. advisor at Harvard. Thus the beginning, in a way, of the train taking one to school; and which would end in my graduate days in Philadelphia. A good tradition.

We would return late in the day from Boston with cinder smuts in my eyes. Those steam locomotives that pulled my trains to Boston were unlike any of our current-day locomotives: one saw the machinery that drove those enormous wheels, pistons pushing long rods, connecting rods attaching to wheels, and at night, the firebox projecting light onto the roadbed. Whitman wrote of this power: “Thy black cylindric body, golden brass and silvery steel. / Thy ponderous side-bars, parallel and connecting rods, gyrating, shuttling at thy sides.”  In 1881, the power of the locomotive so impressed him that he termed it “Type of the modern—emblem of motion and power—pulse of the continent (“To a Locomotive in Winter”).

Today, our engines are shrouded: we don’t see their power, their gears, their turbines. All is contained.  Only their sound is left to us:  the 747 roaring into the sky, the Electro-Motive diesel thundering on the earth. Of course they are sleek and silvery; only the streamliners of the early part of the last century could compete.


Trains have been intimately connected with my education from the demise of steam in the early 50s to the Modern Era of diesel-electric traction. The great days of rail are gone, and despite Amtrak’s optimistic claims, even it is not doing very well. Yet so many years ago, when I went away to school and then to college, the railroads were still fairly strong. They were my sole means of transportation. They were my habit.

I spent most of my teens in Europe where the trains were mainly electric and fast and in Africa where the trains were hot and slow. On  returning to the States, I attended a secondary school located near the end of the New Haven’s Springfield extension. Often, I would board that train at 125th  street. My father, then teaching at Columbia, would take me up there by taxi; and in the winter twilight a tired New Haven train would depart the city, to struggle through the rest of Manhattan and into Connecticut. In the dark we crossed above the Norwalks, looking down on their empty neon streets, shining in the rain, spaces as lonely as a Hopper painting. Often, a man would burst into the car shouting out “Sandwiches, soda, candy bars!” Sometimes I would buy something. (“Ham and cheese, egg salad, ham salad. What ya want?”) The two salad sandwiches made me nervous. How long had they been sitting in his fiberboard box? How many days ago had they been made up? So, I might settle for the safety of the ham and cheese (on puffy white Wonder bread).

Later, my college fortunately was located equidistantly between two railroads; one the Pennsylvania Railroad, the other the Philadelphia and Western (the Pig and Whistle as we called it). Both originated in Philadelphia but from different terminals.  Both were an easy walk from my college. Most often, though, I took the PRR’s Paoli local, an eight-mile ride in to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. The local was the most ordinary of trains, day coaches that had seen much better days, but it shared the tracks with those streamlined GG1 electric trains of Raymond Lowey’s design, as they roared their way to Harrisburg. Four tracks and demanding curves could make the Main Line of the PRR a dangerous place, and locals were known to play “chicken” on its tracks. The P&W was a more like a bus, wandering though tree-lined suburbia and pleasant landscapes. In fact it looked like a bus: cream top, maroon sides, and it stopped only on command. Would-be passengers on the platform pulled a rope that turned on a signal lamp, or so one hoped. It always made me anxious: maybe the lamp had burned out.


I still ride the trains today, but they seem so different. The Acela may take the prize, for the long-distance hauls. The Lake Shore Limited and the California Zephyr have steadily declined over the past six years that I have taken them. Recently in Denver I strolled down to the head of our train, thinking to take a photograph of its Genesis locomotive with its consist trailing off into the dusk. A police officer approached,  saying, “No photographs!” She was armed, a sub sandwich in one hand, the other resting on her gun. The food in the diner that night was served on thin plastic plates and was inedible. The officer’s sandwich, even that egg salad on the New Haven in the 50s would be preferable. I ordered some more wine.

Although my school days are over, I still take the train, mostly the local commuter rail to Boston—not for education but for medicine; and once or twice a year I take the longer hauls.

We are in the 21st century. Like it or not, I must cope with the limited seat space on my flights to the West or to Europe. There’s no hopping at the command of a conductor shouting “All aboard!” Just standing and standing and taking off my shoes. But when the wind is coming from the Northwest, I do have the joy of hearing the whistle of a train as it crosses Maplewood Avenue here in Gloucester.



eric schoonoverEric Schoonover, Professor Emeritus of American literature and literature of the sea, now lives in a small 1735 Cape Ann cottage with his wife, a writer. His next book, Telling Tales will be published in June.







Lane's Cove. Antonio Cirino (1889-1983)

Lane’s Cove. Antonio Cirino (1889-1983)

Spring morning bright

shining grass


around Lane’s Cove


Mail Lady arrives

hops out

breaks up treats

Dog in truck

sniffs for more


Sun through

yellow tulip petals

dropping shadows


An hour on a flat rock

behind the wall

near his easel

with infrequently met Eddy

was in The Lorraine sleeping

when it burned down

lost two hundred paintings

didn’t matter so much as

the people of Gloucester

were so giving gave each

thirty five hundred dollars

I gave a small truck bed

filled with winter clothes


Eddy was married to a WASP

When they went out to dinner

she wouldn’t look at the servers

She was brought up that way

Her family wore clothes

with holes in them


And had an old station wagon

How did you know?

Brought up with them

After the fire

my ex let me stay with her

for as long as I liked

She had a huge place

Children?  Horses


My life to him his to me

Common Irish values

Chelsea and Cambridge


Joe Roderick said

When I broke my elbow

it didn’t heal right

See these bumps?

My buddy was jumping

off his roof onto the porch

and I didn’t have time

to pull my arm back

broke folded the wrong way

pieces of bone everywhere

They gimme a cast

but I cut it off

It was smelly

I was lobstering at the time

Bait got in it


Can I play goal with

one arm?  Yah!


Hint   It’s near my shoes

and it’s red

Water Bottle

This is done outdoors

Bouble Play!


Melissa de Haan Cummings

May 10, 2016


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMelissa de Haan Cummings majored in French and English Literature at Bryn Mawr. She has published poetry in a number of journals.  She describes her interests as including, “much small boating around Cape Ann, love of Charles Olson, Hatha yoga practice since 1969.”