, Salem, MA


March 27, 2014

Letter: Remembering Beverly's waterfront

To the editor:

Once upon a time, Fish Flake Hill was where brined cod were dried on tables known as racks. This certainly was business.

When someone rowed out to handline for fish, this certainly was pleasure. I see this as an early example of our waterfront mixing business and pleasure at the same time. Haven’t read of any political rules and regulations back then controlling the briners over the handliners or the handliners over the briners.

When the steam tugboats pushed the coal barges up to Girdler’s coal dock, that certainly was business. At that same time, I rowed out past the barges to handline for fish; even the rowing was pleasure.

When Baldy Cooper chose his stevedore crews to unload Gulf Oil vessels, that certainly was business. Then, I rowed out past the Guffie and the Jubilee to handline for fish — my pleasure. Imagine that: a yacht club dock next to a Gulf Oil dock. Never heard of any friction between them. Matter of fact, my father and others in the stevedore gang would “unwind” afterward at the Jubilee. That certainly was mixing pleasure after business, of course, at the club right next door.

A little earlier than that, Pete MacFarland was really responsible for mixing business with lots and lots of pleasure all at the Beverly waterfront. His speedy fishing boat, the Judy, ran the Canadian whiskey into Beverly. At high tide just inside Johnson’s rowboat livery, Pete ran the Judy right up the edge of Water Street for fast unloading. Now that was business, of course, before pleasure. When my father, Baldy Cooper, Ike Rowe and Georgie Bunk finished unloading the Judy, I am sure they “relaxed.”

Pleasure after business at the Beverly waterfront.

Of course, the “revenuers” backed off with another amendment to the U.S. Constitution by popular demand. Our Beverly waterfront doesn’t need new amendments dreamed up by politicians in cahoots with someone who wants to carve out special areas. Our waterfront has evolved very nicely all by itself.

Politicians: Butt out. Let peace, harmony, fishermen, pleasure boating, business all continue in peace above and beyond politics.

Mel Nelson


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