To the editor:
We said goodbye to Joe Garland two weeks ago, in an overflowing celebration tent on the shore of the harbor he loved, on a day whose weather proved as mercurial as the man — thunderstorms, sunshine, iron gray clouds, fog and wind.
Eulogizers from Sen. Kerry, who sent written remarks, to war buddies, local activists, and grandchildren revealed to the crowd new sides to the man we'd come to honor.
Anyone who had a dry eye at the end, after the cannon salute, as the boats slipped silently by in the last parade, thousands of gulls wheeling overhead in gyres high, had to be made of stone.
The first time I saw Joe was on CATV, Channel 12, in the early '80s, broadcasting from the wheel of the Adventure, sails big belly in a full Atlantic wind, coming home to Gloucester.
"Let 'er sail!" he sang out in his gravelly voice.
Before moving to Cape Ann in 1980, I'd never seen the sailor side of Joe; he was one of the famous authors at Little, Brown Publishing Co., where I worked and where he first published Howard Blackburn's story, "Lone Voyager," in 1963, still in print today in multiple languages.
In a recent letter to the editor, his daughters remembered their father as they were growing up, reading to them what he'd written during the day.
Knowing that, I can't help but think that the book, Joe always said, "wrote itself" with its spare and moving prose, taking some of its form from that young audience and its first hearing as a bedtime story. In the Little, Brown Publishing Co. lineup back then, Joe stood alongside Norman Mailer, Herman Wouk and William Manchester.
I was humbled when, in the mid '80s, he asked me to agent his "magnum opus" — his World War II book, a collective memoir of the I&R Platoon of front line scouts and observers in the 45th Infantry Division's 157th Regiment.
His buddy, Jerry Waldron, a veteran of that action, paid tribute to Joe at the program here. It still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I recall dining with Joe and Jerry. They argued about the position of the gunner during the Dachau liberation, and Jerry pulled out his pen to draw a map on the back of a napkin to prove his point, because he had been there.
We had the privilege of publishing another Garland classic, a revision of "The Gloucester Guide: A Stroll Through Place and Time" in 1990. Though Joe hated computers, he understood their power, and collaborated with Karen Fuhrman to architect a website to accompany his guidebook, showing Gloucester then and now, drawing on Joe's vast trove of photographs, now in the care of Fred Buck, the curator of the city's photo archive at Cape Ann Museum.
Joe loved, trusted, cajoled and inspired Fred, just as he did two other men he referred to as his "surrogate sons" — Sebastion Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm," and Richard Gaines, intrepid investigative reporter and chronicler of our struggling fishing industry in the Gloucester Daily Times.
Finally, in the fall of 2009, we published Joe Garland's magnum opus, "Unknown Soldiers: Reliving World War II in Europe."
His editor, Elizabeth Foz, spent many hundreds of hours with Joe, gaining respect with gentle patience and unyielding attention to detail. The team tracked down hundreds of permissions — some overseen by local photo researcher and novelist Linda Finegan.
She chased one Xerox of a head shot of a German general to its original Deutsche Bundes Archiv, negotiated a $50 fee, only to meet rejection as Joe slammed his fist down on the table: "No way am I gonna pay a nickel for a picture of a ... Nazi!"
"Unknown Soldiers" represents a final marshalling of Joe's intellectual and creative powers, on a project he considered his life's work, 65 years in the making. The first print run of 3,000 sold out in two months.
His experiences as a doctor's son turned foot soldier defined his life, and I am privileged to have helped him bring his story, their story, forward. Litera Scripta manet — "The written word endures" — and we thank Joe for his lasting gift, his books, his words, to serve as our beacon.
Laura Fillmore Evans
High Street, Rockport