To the editor:
As I sit down in the Fort, the future site of the Beauport Hotel, I reflect on my wonderful childhood.
I grew up on 47 Commercial St. My grandmother had two beautiful houses there and two beautiful gardens. I spent most of my playing time on the cement lot in front of my house, Pavilion Beach, and the old Cape Ann Fisheries building before it burned down.
My mother, Carmella, raised five children virtually alone because my dad, Capt. Sam "Boogie" Frontiero, one of the best highline fishermen to come out of Gloucester, was always out at sea forging a living.
The Birdseye factory was next door to our house and employees would give us free french fries anytime we stopped by.
It was great growing up down the Fort with its own group of Sicilian families who all helped each other. Everyone's dad was a fisherman and I was fortunate to have all of my grandparents living nearby. My Nonny Sa Angela and Nonnu Su Checo D'Amico lived at 38 Fort Square and my Nonny Sa Caterina lived at 47 Commercial St. We affectionately called our Nonnies "Nonny up the hill" and "Nonny down the hill."
My Nonny Sa Caterina maintained two beautiful gardens, raised chickens, worked full-time, and was quite self-sufficient. She became a widow at a young age when her husband Nonnu Pepe was tragically killed at sea, leaving her with nine young children to raise alone. She was just one example of the resiliency, strength of character, and will to survive of the special people who lived and worked down the Fort.
I can remember people coming to my Nonny Sa Caterina's door offering to buy her property. She would chase them out of the house rolling pin in hand. Life then wasn't just about making money; it was about family, heritage, and a sense of belonging.
Certainly times have changed. And I do not think people in general are opposed to change.
What should not be compromised, however, is the character, heritage, and dignity of a special group of people who were and some who are still lucky enough to live and work down the beautiful diamond in the rough, our precious Fort.
Sal Zerilli made a beautiful documentary about the Fort titled "No Pretty Prayer," which should be viewed by all opponents and proponents of this project. Individuals who have made nasty remarks about the "Fort people" should remember that they are a decent, smart, hardworking, loving product of this wonderful community that represent Gloucester at its finest.
Personally, I feel that the Davis group is not telling us the whole story about its plans for the distant future. Time will tell. What stands to change is not just rezoning, but a way of life. All I want to do is continue going down Pavilion Beach in the summer with my daughters and enjoy the St. Peter's Fiesta.
Despite the scientific studies, fishermen know there are plenty of fish in the ocean; they just need the stringent restrictions lifted so they can catch that fish. Whatever changes are made to our city should always include the maritime contingent and should never compromise or minimize the importance of the heritage, legacy, and small town beauty of Gloucester.
In the immortal words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, "I don't know the future, but I know who holds the future."
SAM "SAMO" FRONTIERO