To the editor:
Once, there was a sturdy fraternity of brothers who traversed the watery part of the world in boats.
The craggy 350-plus-year-old seaport of Gloucester was home to these mariners, a town soaked in seafaring lore and sorrow.
A cable of tears stretched across centuries, remembering tragic voyages which sent 5,368 hearty Gloucester souls to the kelpy bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. A solemn sentinel, The Man at the Wheel, graced the shore to remind one and all of the captains courageous, both past and present, who’d dared the sea in search of its fin and gilled treasure.
Since 1906, Gorton-Pew fisheries had graced family’s tables with the fishy fruit of the labors of Gloucester shipmates who plied their treacherous trade and returned home, buoyed by the prayers of their loved ones, with a bountiful catch. The pages of Kipling and Melville chronicle a seagoing fiction that does not outshine the non-fiction reality of Gloucester’s maritime history.
Once, there was also a boggle of bean-counting bureaucrats who lived in condominiums with BMWs parked outside. They became bored counting beans, so one day they decided counting fish might be less tedious. They knew nothing of fish or fishermen or tempest tossed barks or waves leaping into a ship and running fore and aft nearly drowning sailors while still afloat.
The bureaucrats sat at their desks eating sushi and inventing rules and laws while the Gloucester fishermen strained and sweat to grind out a living at the risk of their lives amid the wind and wet and cold. The proud tenacity of knowing they were fishermen — part of a noble and ancient heritage as American as Francis Scott Key — kept them afloat even while they were sinking financially.
The integrity challenged beanmaticians secretly resented the deep authentic weather-driven character of the Gloucester fishermen, so they determined to destroy them by sinking their fleet with a legislative salvo from their hypocritical cornball cannons.
As the story must go, a sea battle took place off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. An armada named NOAA, headed by its flagship, Day of Reckoning, with commanding Admiral John Bullard at the helm and its crew of bean-counters turned fish counters, met a smaller but oh so seaworthy fleet of Gloucester fishermen and its flagship, Glosta Pride, and its ghost captain, William E. Morrissey.
NOAA shattered the sky, unleashing a barrage from their main batteries of legislative paper cannonballs destined to send the Gloucestermen to a penniless and watery grave. When the smoke cleared from Bullard’s false fire, the fleet from Cape Ann was still high and dry sailing in stately splendor steaming smartly into more prosperous seas — proving that character forged in the crucible of hardship, danger, and self-sacrifice always triumphs over wimpy word-crafters who play politics.