“HAVE you seen the movie The Perfect Storm?,” my host, Cris, asked me. I replied the affirmative and added that it was a depressing movie.
“Well, the movie was adapted from a novel which was inspired by real life events. This is the place where it happened,” he said. We were in Gloucester City a 30-minute drive from Boston. It’s a city occupying most of eastern end of Cape Ann in Essex County and part of Massachusetts’ North Shore, the coastal region between Boston and New Hampshire.
It was after a hearty seafood meal at Causeway Restaurant where I feasted on lobsters, mussels and oysters, and then boom!, the next top was a downer—the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial at the west side of the Gloucester Harbor.
The 8-foot tall statue is called “The Man on The Wheel,” a fisherman in oilskins, grasping a ship’s steering wheel modeled after Capt. Clayton Morrissey, a prominent Gloucester fisherman. It was built to memorialize the thousands of fishermen lost at sea in the first three centuries of Gloucester History. A dedication is inscribed on the base of the statue is “They That Go Down To The Sea In Ships 1623-1923”, a line taken from the Bible’s Psalm 107:23. On a recessed area on the waterfront fronting the statue are the names of the people lost at sea etched on bronze plates.
Apparently the 1991 Perfect Storm was just one of the many devastating storms that hit this area. It’s the one event that became known since it’s the event that was made into a best-selling non-fiction book and then into a film. The 2000 cinematic biographical disaster drama it inspired that starred Clooney and Wahlberg made it more graphic—the raging storm, tidal waves, the Andrea Gail swordfishing boat sinking, the tragic rescue, a damaged town and the families of the people lost at sea in mourning.
I found it ironic how the place I was standing on—a very picturesque and charming city under the blue sky, tranquil water and serene surrounding—had gone through so many tragedies.
Gloucester has picked itself up. America’s Oldest Seaport calls itself “The place to be in summer.” It already looked great during fall, the time I visited, and I can just imagine how colorful and exciting it is during summer when the famed waterfront festivals take place, and gorgeous beaches are the must-go destinations.
I think I will revisit Cape Ann again and savor much more of its scenery, music and art festivals and of course, the cuisine. Another bout with the Rock Lobster, yes!
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