August 31, 2017 (Thursday)

by Yule Heibel on August 30, 2018

I took myself on a field trip to Gloucester, going by Route 127, the scenic way. I walked from Stage Fort Park along the promenade, past the memorials to all the fishermen (and some women) lost at sea, and then down Commercial Street to Fort Point, into the old neighborhood which surrounds the new Beauport Hotel. It’s a working class area, on rough granite hills and big topographical changes, with docks and fish and garbage smells along one side (the protected one facing Harbor Cove) and open to the bay (and its air freshening breezes) on the other.

All the houses intrigued me; they seemed to me like little replicas of a Sicilian (that is, a specifically southern Mediterranean) way of life – just in the way stoops or entrances or even facades are arranged or decorated – yet also marked by the harsh New England climate. In some respects the Sicilian (and Greek) settlers of Gloucester knew about – and had made their arrangements with – that harshness when they settled here. A Sicilian summer of broiling heat is not for the faint of heart (even if it’s at the opposite end of the temperature spectrum). Nor is a fisherman’s life (or that of a fisherman’s family). I always think they just kind of fatalistically accepted New England conditions. Fatalism is bred in the bone. The joy of living comes through in the old ways.

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