Joe Garland Speaks


Joe Garland (with Capt. Jim Sharp and Leon Poindexter) at the wheel of schooner Adventure, September 1988.       Photo © Peter Freed


“Let us hold back the world that is banging at our door, threatening to engulf and overwhelm us with its false promises of progress.”

–Joseph E. Garland, July 14, 1973


            Forty-four years ago, the late Gloucester writer and historian Joe Garland gave a talk at the Cape Ann Historical Association (now the Cape Ann Museum) as part of Gloucester’s celebration of the city’s 350th anniversary.   In his talk, Garland looked back at the city’s rich maritime history and forward to what he projected might be our future.  The text of Garland’s talk was printed in full in the Gloucester Times, headlined, “Garland calls on Gloucester to ‘hold back the world.’”  To remember Garland’s death five years ago, and to suggest how prescient his words were, Enduring  Gloucester presents the following excerpts from his talk.


Gloucester © Reed Kay (b. 1925)

Climb up by Lane’s stone studio on the rise of Duncan’s today and look out over the harbor and the city, and you are bound to complain or thank God  that Gloucester has remained pretty much the same old Gloucester.  No plywood skyscrapers here.

Here in Gloucester, I say, let us resist change.  Let us stand pat and defend ourselves against it with all the underlying sullenness and apathy at our command.

Let us hold back the world that is banging at our door, threatening to engulf and overwhelm us with its false promises of progress.

Let us burn the bridges on developers, mobile home parks, shopping centers, fast food joints, convention hotels, condominiums, apartments, jerry- built bungalows, marinas and motels.

Our roads are constipated with cars and trucks and motorcycles, and our waters with Clorox-bottle boats.  Our roadsides, our fields, our commons, our woods, our parks, our marshes, our waterfront and our beaches are one continuous, ever-replenishing dump.

Our atmosphere, way out here at sea as we are, reeks with the eye- smarting stink of gasoline and diesel exhaust fumes, and the song of the warbler in the treetop is fractured by the vapid racket of the joyrider.

Why on earth must we grow?  Who says we have to?  To what end and for what purpose?  To line whose pockets?  To serve whose self-interest must we bring more and more and more people to Cape Ann?

Let us protect our open spaces with iron-fisted jealousy.  Let us throw every obstacle that enlightened paranoia can invent in the way of the further expansion of the tourist business.  Let us recycle all remaining copies of The Gloucester Guide [Garland’s own book] Oh, those trippers!  They’re a plague and a blight; let us put them to flight.

If our future depends on tourists, then we are selling our birthright for one big mess.  As for the backpackers and their bicycles, why not?

The point is that there is plenty of slack to be taken up within the limits of our present population level.   For one thing, year round industrial diversification can rid us of that depressing combination of involuntary servitude and low aspiration, which characterizes the seasonal employment pattern of tourism and sectors of the fish processing industries.  There is lots of room here for upward movement into stable well-paying jobs with self-respect and challenge to them, without moving to any great extent out of the Gloucester labor market.

A principal reason why our unemployment is so high, it strikes me, is the super-high number of junk jobs in town.  Faced with the choice, I’d be tempted to “collect,” as they say, myself.

The availability of higher quality jobs raises personal income, purchasing power and aspirations, stimulates interest in better education and local government, which leads to a demand for better services, which leads to a better life, and who knows where that may lead? Even maybe to an addition to the library in our lifetimes.

But always I am drawn back to the harbor.  It’s our heart, as it’s always been, and our future.  Depending upon the eventual success of a marine resources management program in reversing the trend of depletion in the fisheries—and it will succeed because it is too important to the race to fail—we can look to that same prospect for an interesting future in our most ancient industry.

If we can stick with it and hold on, there is bound to be a resurgence of fresh fishing from Gloucester, which can revive us as a major port for the capturing and marketing of what is coming to be more widely recognized as the healthiest protein in the human diet.

Probably a dose of protectionism applied in the right places wouldn’t hurt.  This country needs its own fishing sanctuaries, and urgently, and its own domestic fleet to fish them; the one will follow on the other, as it always has, but the government must provide the shield.

For Gloucester the game is never up.  We here now are the legatee for a moment in time, of a rare place on earth.  Nowhere in the Western Hemisphere, perhaps, has the inheritance of so single minded a pursuit and so singular a way of life been passed from hand to hand in such an unbroken continuity as here.

And very few communities anywhere in the world can match our tradition of local self-government, a companion legacy not at all unrelated to the spirit of the fisherman, which has been kept alive here for 331 years since our incorporation as a town in 1642.

These twin preoccupations of ours, fishing and freedom, have always thriven on adversity.  If this generation keeps the sparks flying and afire, the future of old Gloucester can, and most likely will, take care of itself for quite a few more years to come.



Autumn at the Shore. Joseph Eliot Enneking (1881 - 1942)

Autumn at the Shore.                            Joseph Eliot Enneking (1881 – 1942)

The leaves are falling

The dense green wall of foliage slowly disappears

into yellows, oranges, mixed greens,

the growing bronze of towering oaks,

dots of scarlet here and there,

and in this thinning, vistas opening up:

more than we can,

for it is about us, of course in the long run

though we may not see it that way,

for the vistas opening here, always it seems

to the sea.

The sea that surrounds this island of Beau Port, Gloucester

or the sea tide that floods the marshes

our island sea

it’s sad for those who cannot open up

closeted in importance, or lost in drug fueled evasion

who can’t feel the ebb and flooding surges

of this sea in us and around us.

Kent Bowker
October 20, 2016


Kent BowkerKent 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.



Cut from the Same Cloth

Lori Sanborn

Grandmother and Child Sewing. Friedrich Pondel (b. 1836)

Grandmother and Child Sewing.          Friedrich Pondel (b. 1836)

While there are 7,404,976,783 people in this world, I wholeheartedly believe that a handful of them were put here just for me. And the same goes for all of you.  These individuals are the ones that we feel connected to on the deepest possible level.  The ones that think the exact thoughts at the same moment we do. The ones that have shared eerily similar experiences to ours.  The ones that just get us and make us feel at home with all of our thoughts, dreams, fears, feelings and humor no matter how odd or bizarre they may be. Some people call these special ones soulmates or kindred spirits. Regardless of their name, these are the people that make our lives truly meaningful.

I have been fortunate enough to have already encountered a handful of these spiritual connections. Many of these individuals have come and gone in my life.  And although I may have wanted most of them to remain by my side forever, I am glad that I was able to experience these connections regardless of how long or short our time was together.  These people have given me some of my most cherished memories and made me feel special beyond words. I love that I am experiencing one of these connections as we speak, but it’s even cooler to witness my daughter have her first.

Emmy & Ryder Sanborn and her great-grandmother Millie Sanborn.

Emmy & Ryder Lewis and their great-grandmother Millie Sanborn.

Millie Sanborn is the great-grandmother to my daughter, Emerson.  Millie and Emmy are birds of a feather.  We jokingly call my Grandmother, “the bag lady,” for her reputation of having hundreds of items shoved into bags around her apartment.  At five years old, Emmy has already developed quite the name for herself over stashing crap into bags.  Plastic bags.  Ziploc Bags. Brown bags. You name the bag and Emerson has crammed 30 Shopkins or 15 princess figures into it.  Each time a family member finds one, we smile and mouth the name, “Millie.”

Both of our girls have a fondness for arts and crafts. Millie has always loved to attend the holiday fairs around Gloucester and has knitted hats for countless newborns for over twenty years.  Emmy spends hours each week gluing odds and ends onto paper to make the perfect figure or scene. Just last night, Emmy used various colors of strings to create the perfect Batwoman. Our ladies are always the loudest singers in the room. While Emmy’s stage is usually our kitchen or living room, Millie has been known to let tunes fly in Church, even brightening funerals by belting out the chosen hymn.  Both are true masters of speaking without a filter.  I can no longer count the amount of times their bluntness has blown my mind.

Yet what has stunned me even more is how deeply these two are connected.  Between the hours of two and three in the morning on November 7th, Millie struggled to breathe.  The ambulance and fire department arrived on the scene in Lanesville to check on my grandmother. Ironically, at the same time in downtown Gloucester, Emmy was battling the chills and a high fever that culminated with her covering her dear mother in throw up.  I am an optimist by nature, but I admittedly feared the worst.  What if our Millie passed away before Emmy had the chance to get one more Sunday visit to Gram’s in?

Millie is 92 years old and many have shared that they have witnessed her to be very confused or lost.  But let me tell you, each and every single time I bring Emmy to Grammie’s house on Sunday, Millie’s mind is as sharp as a tack.  In fact, I have yet to witness my grandmother bring anything except her A game.  After every Brierwood Street visit, my mother always asks, “How was Grammie today?” My response is always the same, “She was great.”  And when these two girls are together, they both always are.

I turned to the Universe to ask for help.  “Please let Emmy and Millie be together again.” As always, the Universe delivered.  At mid-morning on November the 8th,  Emmy jumped up out of a deep sleep covered in sweat.  Her fever had broken.  At almost the exact same moment, my mother who was by my Grandmother’s bedside in the ICU at Addison Gilbert Hospital, texted me to reveal that Millie was doing better.  Coincidence? Not a chance. These two are cut from the same cloth.

~Lori Sanborn


lori-sanbornLori 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, and is currently the Assistant Principal of Swampscott Middle School.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.