On my 63rd birthday, Sandra and I drove to Rockport, Massachusetts, where my mother grew up and I spent time as a child, in the summer’s, with my grandparents, William and Josephine McNamara. My grandfather was a longshoreman. He off loaded cargo from the fishing boats that arrived fully loaded into Rockport and Gloucester Harbors. He was very muscular and told me it was from offloading wooden barrels, upon his shoulders, from the boats all day. My grandmother was a housewife who also baked goods for a nearby grocery store. I feel amazed to have such vivid memories of being with them as a young child, watching Gunsmoke while sitting on my grandfather’s lap and being escorted downtown by my grandmother, with a destination of Tuck’s drugstore to be let loose in the candy section.
Now, I have so many memories but miss my grandparents love and guidance that made Rockport so special to me in the first place. They lie at rest in the Beach Grove Cemetery at the end of Pleasant Street, two streets from the home they built and raised their family in.
As Sandra and I arrived in Rockport, to my great surprise, suddenly a car passed us with two most familiar faces, my daughter and her boyfriend! I was excluded from planning this and very happy. We went to lunch, we drove them around to the more significant family landmarks and needing to be at work, they soon whisked themselves back north.
We brought our bikes and a saw, parked at the Rockport High School and pedelled to the cemetery. We pruned some arborvite bushes that were encapsulating William’s, Josephine’s and my uncle Richard’s headstone. From there we pretty much coasted downtown and to the parking lot across from Motif Number One. There was a cool southerly breeze making our visit very enjoyable. We pedaled around Bearskin Neck and past the Benjamin Tarr house, my 7th great grandfather. In Rockport my family roots go back as far as my paternal family goes back in York. Rockport has always felt like a second home to me.
With bikes back on the car rack, we drove around Cape Anne and to our next destination, the Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester. My great grandfather, Edward McNamara is memorialized on one of the bronze plaques. He lost his life in 1910 when he fell off the deck of the Schooner M. Madeline. He is one of the 5368 souls lost at sea and memorialized here. My grandfather, William, was born in 1909, sharing only about 17 months of life with his father, Edward.With each year, I find family history more and more compelling. The more I learn, the more the unkown opens up.