Treasured Audio-Gloucester History Cigar Joe Talks About Smuggling Liquor In the Early Part of The Twentieth Century Part 1

Good Morning Gloucester Exclusive


The family of Cigar Joe Frontiero brings Good Morning Gloucester these treasured recordings of smuggling liquor into the Essex River and into Annisquam in the first of a multi-part collection of recordings.  I’m happy that the family entrusted GMG with these priceless recordings and am proud to be able to have the platform in which we can archive and share with the community.

Cigar Joe Frontiero born in 1898 these tapes were recorded in 1981 when he was 83 years old.  Cigar Joe lived to be 96 years old and had whiskey and cigars at his nursing home every day til the day he died according to his granddaughter Josie Cary.

Click the arrow below to play the audio file

If you don’t see the arrow you can click this link to listen to the audio

Cigar Joe (Charlie Lowe Photo)1975

Ray Witham and Joseph “Cigar Joe” Frontiero land an 18 foot basking shark after it got tangled and died in a mackerel net off Rockport.

The history behind the tapes: Someone had asked Cigar Joe for an interview for an oral history project but Cigar Joe decided to do the recording himself. At the time he was having trouble with circulation in his legs and spent most of the time at home so he bought a tape recorder. He had trouble with the tape recorder and threw all of the tapes away. His mailman took the trashed tapes, spliced them, and made copies. He gave Cigar Joe copies and kept backups (with Cigar Joe’s consent) in case the originals were lost. This occurred in 1981.

Look for part 2 of the recordings Monday April 1st at 6AM

38 thoughts on “Treasured Audio-Gloucester History Cigar Joe Talks About Smuggling Liquor In the Early Part of The Twentieth Century Part 1

  1. Josie I’m honored to have your family trust with such an important piece of Gloucester history.
    All the thanks go to you and your family.



  2. That is so cool. Didn’t Cigar Joe live on Gould Ct. a few houses away from Grandma & Grandpa with the Store? I remember him coming into garandpa’s store too.


    1. I do believe my dad’s dogs were regular customers too. They were fond of stealing roasts throught the back door!


  3. Joanne Aiello made a ton of audio tapes from interviewing people from the Fort, the waterfront etc. in the late 80’s or early 90’s. I asked her about the interviews recently. She had done them for her Master’s thesis, and still has them all.
    What a fabulous oral history that would be to have looping in an an interpretive center on the waterfront someday for everyone to hear and appreciate! We live in hope, and with you starting the ball rolling, Joey, and with the help of wonderful people like Josie Cary, Joanne Aiello and more waiting in the wings- it could happen !


  4. Joey — is this the same family that had a dragger named Cigar Joe on the Seven Seas wharf in the 1950s? I think that the boat went down at some point but, if this is the same guy, he obviously survived.


  5. Click the arrow below to play the audio file

    Where is the arrow? I looked all over this posting and don’t see one.


  6. Cigar Joe was my grandpa. He was bigger than life to us. He did live on Gould Court. We loved visiting him. We always made a trip to Cher amis (not sure of the spelling) the ice-cream store and to Joe Popcorn for a frozen lemonade. When you are young you don’t realize how important these stories are. Thanks for sharing them with our great community.


    1. Don’t forget the trips to Trupiano’s for fresh Italian sausages and mudega steaks. And the fresh pears from the trees in the yard on Gould Ct…..wonderful memories!


    1. Thx for the added link so I could listen. What a treasure! Am sure Wolfgang Peterson would love to “do the movie” of this Gloucester story. Joey, you are amazing finding this story. Thx to the Frontiero family for sharing. Cher Ami brings back memories, too; best ice cream in the world! Cannot wait for the rest of the “tapes.”


  7. Cigar Joe was my great-grandfather. I remember spending hours in his kitchen listening to this story and others. Thank you Joey and my cousins Josie and Tina for putting these recordings out there for everyone to enjoy. Cigar Joe was a character and truly one of a kind. Makes me very proud of my family and heritage!


    1. Click this sentence with your iPhone “If you don’t see the arrow you can click this link to listen to the audio”

      I’m listening to it as I drive home from work. “Ohh, just get some boxes”. This is great stuff.


  8. Totally awesome. I wrote last year about doing oral history’s. It would be good to do them now and also to bring ones already made like this one available to people. This is priceless.


  9. I haven’t heard my Grandfather’s voice in years. This brings back a lot of memories from the Gould Court days. Thanks Josie for posting this audio of Grandpa. Thank God the statute of limitations on bootlegging charges had run out by the time that audio was made!


  10. Wow. People just do not know all this actually happened. When I tell stories at the distillery people always look at me as if I were talking about Star Wars or something.
    Joey, you and Frankie can relate to this… Almost always when walking downtown as a youth, gentlemen like “Cigar Joe” and many of the other Skippers would never miss an opportunity to slap the back of my head (ala NCIS tv show) or kick me in the can and say something Italian, then say “You’re “Slugs” kid. Stay oatta trouble”. The Curcuru’s hit the hardest. Perhaps they enjoyed it. We all had several hundred parents back in the day.


  11. My Grandfarther was bigger then life. He was kind, generous and loving. He always made you feel special. He always asked how finance’s were and then slipped me a few bucks that my parents never knew about. His passion was making his homemade wine but never knew that his grandkids where hitting up the barrel. He loved frying everything in Olive Oil and his beloved poodle Pierre went drinking with him in Gloucester bars. Part of him lives on in all his grandkids and great grandkids.


  12. Hi my name is Cassie Sheck cigar joe was my brother Jimmy’s adopted father I have so many good memories with him I haven’t seen ant of his family in years I now live in penna but do go home in the summer if any one would like to hear from me in his family please let me know always went to see him on Gould court I just loved that man and my kids distill remember Cassie magee sheck


  13. I love this! I always come here to read about my Great Grandfather. To tell my children about him. I have the stories my dad told me too. These are priceless. Thank you for sharing!


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