Memories of a Gloucester Childhood

I heard from FOB David Collins recently in response to a post that featured pictures of Half Moon Beach. With his permission, I am sharing his recollections.

Your photos of Half Moon Beach struck a real nostalgic chord with me. I used to love to run up and down those steps from the beach to Tablet Rock back some 60-65 years ago (!) when Stage Fort Park was my “personal playground”. The steps look to have been made a good bit safer now but still have their charm. The life guard stand and the ramp were not there then, however. And, in fact, very few people seemed to go to that little beach during the week.

We used to live on Stage Fort Avenue and there were many days when I would ride my bike through the whole park – from the tennis courts to the playground to the fort to Half Moon Beach and Tablet Rock to Cressy’s Beach to The Cupboard and be just about the only person there. I’m glad to see the gem of a park is more fully utilized these days. 

I can remember when the little league field (now Boudreau Field) was added. That sure changed how we sledded down the hill behind it. One winter, I tried to sled down the embankment at Half Moon Beach. That was a disaster – too many plants sticking up under the snow. I think some of them were beach roses. Are they still there do you know?

The park came much more alive in the summer, of course, and especially so when the circus or the carnivals were there. And Cressy’s Beach often had a crowd on it during the summer days. I remember talking to the young man who painted the sea serpent there. I was about 10, so 1955? I think he referred to it as a quetzalcoatl. When I first started going there, Cressy’s Beach was mostly all sand. Then a storm or hurricane hit and it became almost all stones.

The building housing the Visitors Welcoming Center where you volunteered this summer was there back then along with a playground with swings (little box-like swings for very young kids were in an area separate from the rest of the swings) and there was a slide and see-saw and a spinner or spinning carousel. Here are a couple pictures of my sister and me enjoying them way back in 1948.

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You can see the Welcome Center in the photos. I forget what we called it back then. I honestly don’t remember that ladder attached to the big kids’ swings in the top picture.

The park bandstand you featured in another GMG blog entry was not there back then but the ball field below it was.

The (Welcome) building seemed little used that I can remember except by us neighborhood kids who loved to run its porches (which are likely not as big as I remember them being). I think I can remember buying an ice cream in that building at one time, maybe before The Cupboard opened? But not often. And maybe some of the park maintenance equipment was stored under the building? Shel Sudbay, who I think was the park maintenance supervisor, lived next door to us and a lot of the  maintenance equipment was housed there in sheds right below my bedroom window.

Anyway, thanks for the pictures, Pat. What wonderful memories they brought back!!

You are very welcome, David! Thanks for reaching out. I am certain there are others who will enjoy these memories.

7 thoughts on “Memories of a Gloucester Childhood

  1. Hi Pat!
    Great to read and see more wonderful photos from David Collins “backyard”!
    (David, do you have any of the cannons and fort area at that time? Thanks Catherine)

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  2. I remember when our parents would bring us from our cottage at Long Beach to the park to play on the cannons, swing on the swings, picnic at the beach…what great childhood memories! Thanks for the reminder!

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  3. Oh my goodness! This is great! Look at the wooden slide! All I can think is – splinters! I love these great memories! Thank you for sharing.

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  4. I remember we always called what is now the Visitor Center “The Rest House,”and it did have a snack bar.,as well as bathrooms. Those porches seemed huge, and the smooth boards felt good on bare feet! . Late 50’s, 60’s….but the Cupboard was there as well…..

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    1. Thanks very much for that added information – “The Rest House” (I remember that term now) with snack bar (probably seasonal?) and bathrooms … and those porches. And that The Cupboard was there at that time, too. It’s nice to know the place made a lasting impression on others from those days.

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