It's a little-known fact, but we here at FishOn spent three years in the sewers of Paris, fighting the German occupying force alongside the French resistance in World War II. It's the only type of hardship that could have prepared us last week for the arduous task of renewing our Massachusetts driver's license in the midst of the pandemic.

Navigating the arcane demands and requirements of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has always been its own ring of hell and you'll be pleased to know nothing has changed. Wait. That's not true. It has changed. It's far worse now.

Our license had to be renewed by today. So, we embarked a week early assuming that almost nothing would go right. And it didn't. We tried to renew it online,  but we were rebuffed with extreme prejudice because our birth certificate abstract from California was deemed insufficient for proof of our existence.

We then tried to make an appointment at one of the Registry service centers. When, with the assistance of the nice folks at Prince Insurance Agency, we finally figured out how to do it — we are not addled, it was that difficult — we of course couldn't book an appointment until weeks after our current license expired.

We then turned our lonely eyes to AAA, of which we are a member. They were kind enough to shoehorn us in Friday morning for an appointment. Within 35 minutes we were holding our new temporary license in our hot little mitts, making sure we would not slip from our status as one legal beagle.

So, a sincere shoutout to Karen, Heather and Anastasia at the AAA branch in Danvers for kindly and competently bailing us out. And yes, our birth certificate abstract, in their hands, worked just fine. The Registry. Sheesh. 

Painting a family portrait

A few weeks ago, we wrote a story in the pages of the Gloucester Daily Times and online at gloucestertimes.com on Ocean Alliance's inexorable campaign to fulfill its vision in the restoration and renovation of the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory on Rocky Neck.

Following publication of the story, we received a nice email from William Keniston of Concord, New Hampshire, expressing interest in the project at the historic site that stands sentry at the entrance into Gloucester's inner harbor.

"I am a Wonson," he wrote. "My mother and her siblings, along with my grandmother, sold the factory and paint formula back in the very late '50s or early '60s, following my grandfather's death."

Keniston mentioned that he has become a family curator of sorts, collecting pictures, stories and other information about one of Gloucester's most iconic sites.

"My family came down a few years ago and got a tour of the work being done," he wrote. "I can say on behalf of the Wonson family, we are delighted that Ocean Alliance has purchased it and are bringing it back to life. I think my grandfather would approve."

FishOn baseball quiz question

On this date in 1956, the manager who still holds baseball's all-time records for most wins, losses and games managed died at the age of 93. Who was he? The answer is filling out the lineup card down below.

Let's break the ice

The Coast Guard has a fleet of 140-foot ice breakers and 65-foot ice-breaking tugs that it employs to keep waterways clear of ice in our more frigid regions, such as New England. The effort is in support of Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters.

Here's a fun fact that is sure to impress at your next cocktail party, if we're ever allowed to have one again:

"More than 85% of all home heating oil used in the U.S. is consumed in the Northeast and 90% of that is delivered by ship on a Coast Guard-maintained waterway," according to the Coast Guard. "On average, the Coast Guard assists over 100 vessels that become stuck in ice yearly."

Get the keys. We're going for a blood drive

The nice folks at Hook-a-Cure, who have raised so much money with fishing tournaments and other events to help fund cancer and other medical research, continue to adapt to the restrictions of the ongoing pandemic. And do good stuff.

"Fundraising was almost impossible over the past year due to COVID," they said in an email. "But much to our delight, we discovered blood drives were not."

The group, after its first successful blood drive last year at the True North Ale Company brewery in Ipswich, partnered with the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Blood Mobile "to make this a permanent part of what we offer as a charitable organization."

Its second blood drive is set for Feb. 13 at True North, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those making donations will receive a free Kraft Family Blood Donor Center sweatshirt and a free pint from True North's selections.

Appointments are recommended and can be made at tinyurl.com/truenorthF21.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack a vein and get going.

FishOn baseball quiz answer

On Feb. 8, 1956, Connie Mack, the longest serving manager in baseball history, died in Philadelphia. Mack, known as "The Tall Tactician," managed the Phillies for 53 years — and never in uniform. He always wore a business suit. He retired after the 1950 season at the age of 87, having won 3,731 games and lost 3,948. In all, he managed in 7,755 games and was universally admired and respected.

"Humanity is the keystone that holds nations and men together," Mack once said. "When that collapses, the whole structure crumbles. This is as true of baseball teams as any other pursuit in life."

As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column.

 Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

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