I’m inside the Lobster Trap Tree on Main Street thinking ….. Gloucester is a great Christmas town, my memories go back to the early 50’s.
Back in time before Sammy lost his eye and Johnnie Ray cried for the first time. I can hear Carol of the Bells & I’m spinning around, digging those riffs . I like this as much as the intro to Crazy Rhythm by Harry James on an old 78. I loved the Christmas carols & sang in the Junior Choir of the Old First Baptist Church at the end of Middle Street.
I see the Alexander kids at 18 Washington Square posing in pajamas & bathrobes, halfway down the stairs with gleeful faces on Christmas morning. My mother snapping pictures with her Brownie Hawkeye camera: my sister Janice Elaine holding a doll, my brother Bobby with a baseball glove, and me with my View Master thrilling me with its 3d scenes of the world across the bridge. Those were black & white pictures that my mother Madeline took, no color yet. We didn’t have a television either, so I’d go next door on Saturday nights to watch the Lone Ranger and the Boston Blackie with my pal Billy Ruggiero. His grandma would always bring me something to eat, even though I’d already had my supper. I could never say no.
These were the best times-when the family was all together, all still alive. Later on we would drive around “ rubber necking “ in the fancy parts of town enjoying the decorations in the huge yards & driveways. The A’s are driving an old luxurious, black Oldsmobile, given to us by the Emerson sisters who attended my Dad’s church. They gave me a stuffed gila monster once, they were travellers.
I still see diamonds reflected from street lights and hear the crunch crunch crunch of walking on fresh snow.
New memories include the surprise of a String Quartet last Saturday morning at the Cape Ann Savings Bank; looking forward to Gordon Baird hitting that high note singing his traditional solo O Holy Night at the UU church on Christmas Eve, and best of all seeing Greasy Pole Champ Salvi Benson walking around town looking like Santa Claus himself these days.
Willie Alexander. The Alexander family arrived in Gloucester in 1950; we left in 1955. I returned here in June 1997 to live with my wife, photographer Anne Rearick. I’ve been making music & art my whole life. I made my first recordings for Capitol Records in 1965 with The Lost. I am currently recording with Tony Goddess at Bang a Song Studios in Gloucester.