I owe a lot to the late, great Joe Garland. Gloucester’s historian took me under his wing at a young age and over the years would give that little push I needed to become a writer. In fact, I did not even consider myself a writer until he told me I was. Way back though he told me it was about damn time someone chronicled the history of Gloucester’s Italian fishing fleet and the neighborhood of “The Fort.” Joe was very fond of Sicily, which is where most “Gloucester Italians” really originate and attempted to inspire pride in my heritage. He wanted me to take up this charge and document our fleet and our Fort.
Time went on and I really wasn’t sure if I could ever fulfill Joe’s expectations of me, even after I began writing. But fate has an interesting way of getting you on your path. Health circumstances directed me to a part-time position at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, instantly rekindling my love of our local maritime history. The second and major piece of the puzzle was meeting Salvatore Zerilli, Ph.D., a Fort kid that had come back home to reconnect with his roots and what makes the Fort so special. Sal and his team created an ongoing archive of stories, images and videos of the Fort neighborhood, also creating the documentary: No Pretty Prayer.
My work with the team, both on and off camera is may way of keeping the promise to Joe, the film is excellent and if only he got to see it before the end…I played a small part in a very large project, yet I am more proud of this than much of my other work.