Author Archives: John McElhenny

The Story of a Gloucester Boy Caught In Between

Luke and his dad in 2013. good morning gloucester photo by Kim Smith

Luke and his dad in 2013 when he was 7. Good Morning Gloucester photo by Kim Smith.

He saw them by the front gate of Newell Stadium. Recognized them from school. A gaggle of O’Maley School 7th graders waiting to get into the Gloucester High football game, out on a Friday night talking and teasing and joking with friends and without their parents and how cool is that? Excited. Nervous.

We walked through the gate and found seats in the brand new bleachers. Talked about the game for a few minutes as the Gloucester and Marblehead players ran onto the field and started to play. We’ve always had sports, my son and me. Sunday afternoons watching the Patriots. “Do you think the Celtics will be any good this year, Dad?” An overnight trip to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame. Like my dad and me before.

The first quarter played on and I could see that he was torn, feeling the tween tug of the O’Maley kids milling about over by the snack shack. Classmates from math and English. Teammates from soccer and basketball. There were girls there, too, a new thing in his world.

It’s a difficult age, 12. You’re doing new things out in the world, making a life separate from your parents for the first time, bonding with kids who are going through the same things you are. Slowly but surely you leave behind the dependent-on-your-parents life you’ve always known. It’s totally normal and a part of growing up and exciting and hard and scary.

“Go ahead over,” I said.

He felt bad about leaving me alone in the stands. Guilty and a little bit sad. He wears his feelings on his face or maybe it’s just that a dad can read these things. You know what your kid’s feeling inside. He’s an empathetic kid, cares about others’ feelings. A good boy.

He apologized as he stood up. “Sorry, Dad, but I’ll just check what they’re doing and be back.” Slowly clomped down the bleachers, looking back at me as he reached the bottom. Then his pace quickened as he saw the familiar faces, kids his own age, over by the track.

Remember the thrill of being 12? The independence from your parents, the bike rides beyond your neighborhood, the after-school trips to the pizza shop, the sleepovers at new friends. So many first times, learning your own way. Exciting. Nerve-wracking. Uncertain. New.

The lights of a fishing boat passed in Gloucester Harbor beyond the goal posts. “To the river!” chanted the sea of maroon sweatshirts and jackets around me, urging the Fishermen on toward the end zone. During a break, the cheerleaders stretched a slingshot wide between two girls and hurled T-shirts into the stands. One flew my way and I caught it, the crowd around me cheering. He would have smiled at that if he’d been there. Maybe given me a high five.

He was waiting for me when the game ended. Told me as we walked to the car about the kids he’d met by the snack bar. Ones he sits near in math class or homeroom or science but doesn’t get to joke around with or get to know. I could hear the happiness in his voice.

Then he stopped himself, conflicted, and apologized again for leaving me in the stands. I tried to reassure him, tell him that I was excited for him and glad he had fun. It was late when we got home.

Ready for bed, pajamas on, he came out to see me in the kitchen. Still wrestling with how much fun he had had at the game but guilty about leaving me behind.

“Good night, Dad,” he said and hesitated a few seconds, not sure whether to give me a hug like he always had when he was 5. Uncertainty showed in his face again. A kid caught in between boy and teenager. Torn.

Then he quietly turned and walked into his room, shutting the door tightly behind him.

Cool Music Alert: Cables and Lines CD Release Show this Saturday Night

Cables and Lines

Gloucester residents Erin and Andy Luman and their new band Cables and Lines will play a show this Saturday night at MAGMA in downtown Gloucester. The band, which also features Calvin Joss, will release its first CD at the show. So you should go there.

Good Morning Gloucester peeps know Erin Luman because Joey posted about her art skillz here and he once asked if the Lumans should win “most creative family” in Gloucester. I’d vote for them.

People know Andy Luman because of the GMG post here about his previous band, which wasn’t nearly as good as the new band Cables and Lines and was back when Andy was more likely to wear a man bun in his hair like a rock star.

This Saturday night’s Cables and Lines show is at MAGMA, 11 Pleasant Street in Gloucester, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 and you can buy tickets here. Your ticket gets you into the show but you also get a CD and a portion of the profits is donated to the Open Door.

If you can’t make the show, you can hear their music and buy their CD here:

My buddy Adam had to move from downtown Gloucester to Annisquam. This is how he felt about it.


Adam is really smart and his writing is funny and thoughtful. For 10 years, he and his wife Mysha lived near us in downtown Gloucester. We’d walk to his house for dinner sometimes and pass his place on walks down for coffee at Lone Gull or cookies at Caffe Sicilia. That all changed when he and Mysha moved to Annisquam. It’s a way different experience over there. Here’s what Adam had to say about the move. It’s a great read.  

A Shout from Annisquam

This winter, after ten years of renting apartments in the shadow of City Hall, my wife and I moved to another Gloucester outpost, Annisquam, a few scant miles away. When we told our downtown friends the news of our impending move, they responded in ways typically reserved for a cancer diagnosis.

“My God,” one friend said.  “Annisquam.  Isn’t there anything they can do?”

As the move drew near, our friends’ initial sympathy curdled into mild reproach.  This shift in tone opened the door to their gripes about the 3-mile overland journey between downtown and the Annisquam hinterlands.

“Can we find food along the way,” asked one friend.  “Or should we plan to eat the weakest member of our party?”

Read Adam’s really well-written post on The Gloucester Clam here.

And now the paved sidewalk around Burnham’s Field is complete

A few years ago,  Burnham’s Field in central Gloucester was renovated and got a paved path put in around most of the field, among other improvements. It was great — kids learned to ride bikes on the path, seniors from Sheedy Park could do their daily walks around the field, big kids rode their scooters and bikes and skateboards.

There wasn’t enough money for the paved sidewalk to make a full circuit around the field, though, so it went three-quarters of the way around and then connected with a sidewalk outside the field. It was way better than before but not perfect – kids riding around the field were pushed out onto a narrow sidewalk along busy Burnham Street. Same with elderly walkers and parents pushing strollers.

That changed this week. Thanks to grant money from the city’s Community Preservation Act and the efforts of Mike Hale and the Department of Public Works, the paved sidewalk around Burnham’s Field inside the park is now complete.

paved path 2

City Councilors Melissa Cox and Ken Hecht helped make it happen. Thanks to all who pitched in to continue improving the largest green space and ball field in central Gloucester.

paved path 1

And people are loving it already.

paved path - walkers lighter


For Kevin Nolan, Gloucester High School was a springboard to the world of mechanical and electrical engineering at Virginia Tech University.

Kevin says Gloucester High teacher Kurt Lichtenwald taught him about engineering and physics through hands-on projects and classroom teaching, allowing kids to learn about science in whatever way they learn best.

“I’m grateful for the education I got at Gloucester High School,” Kevin says. “My experience being here has been some of the best few years of my life.”

Watch Kevin’s story:

Fourth in a series of video profiles about why students and their families choose the Gloucester public schools. Read the introductory post about the #ChooseGloucester series here. You can also check out the student video profiles of Lizzie LusterAustin Monell and Delaney Benchoff.


Ask her about Gloucester High School, and Denise Benchoff will tell you about the teachers who come in during the summer to help her daughter Delaney and other kids get a jumpstart on their classes.

“I see a lot of dedication with the teachers,” says Denise, whose older daughter graduated from Gloucester High and went to the University of Delaware to study mechanical engineering. “I’ve talked with a number of parents whose kids have gone on to great colleges. I am happy I chose the Gloucester schools.”

Watch Delaney’s story:

This is the third in a series of video profiles about why students and their families choose the Gloucester public schools. Read the introductory post about the #ChooseGloucester series here. The first profile of student Lizzie Luster is here and the second profile of Austin Monell is here.

#ChooseGloucester Video Series: Meet Gloucester High Student Austin Monell

Austin Monell loves science. At Gloucester High School, he’s built a hovercraft and electric skateboard as part of a bunch of hands-on engineering classes the school has for students. Gloucester High was named the top program in the state by the Massachusetts Technology Education and Engineering Collaborative.

“Between the teachers and the serious students, they share this passion and they mutually motivate each other,” says Austin’s mom, Alison. “His teachers get as excited as he does about some of the projects he’s working on.”

Watch Austin’s story:

This is the second in a series of video profiles about why students and their families choose the Gloucester public schools. Read the introductory post about the #ChooseGloucester series here and the first profile of student Lizzie Luster here.

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