Dave Goeteman Remembers Tommy Burns

I first met Tommy when I was 18 years old, I’m walking the streets or East Gloucester and in need of a job . A brand spanking new pick up truck pulled over And a crazy looking character said hey kid you look like good backman material, are you looking for a work?
As it turns out, the character was The notorious Tom Burns.At the time, Tommy had just had a new boat built, a 42 foot Bruno in Stillman. At the time it was considered state of the art. Tommy was considered a Highliner back then, although some people would dispute this fact , we were the first boat in the harbor to have 1000 traps. Back then they were made of wood with four bricks. They were 16 x 36 wraparounds. I remember going to Maine to pick them up one truckload at a time. We would put 52 on the truck ,don’t ask me how, but one time we did lose a load on 495 ha ha they closed a couple lanes of the highway so we could gather the traps and re-stack them ha ha. He would pick me up 7 o’clock every day , whether we went fishing or not. Sometimes he would bring me up the yard and leave me there all day by myself to Brand and bridal the traps . This was all work that was considered part of the job you did not get paid for it ha ha nowadays you couldn’t get away with it. He had two gorgeous daughters at the time they were about 15 and 16 but he warned me if I ever even so much is looked at them watch out, they used to lay out on the lawn chairs and torture me all day ha ha . at the end of the season this was all work that you didn’t get paid for . it was all considered part of the job back then I . guess I was slightly naïve ha ha Tommy Took me full advantage of me but later on he came through in a big way.
I remember going down to Niles beach and gathering rocks , Something you would probably get arrested for today ha ha , but it was common practice back then . We would put them in the traps when we would set them . they would float on the surface for a while before they would soak up enough water and sink . After the first haul we would take the rocks out , but by the end of the season when We took them out ,they were very heavy ,not like the traps today .
The first fishing I did with Tommy on his new 42’ Bruno and Stillman was tuna fishing up in Ipswich Bay. I remember getting seasick on the way out ha ha I had no business being a commercial fisherman but I tufted out on Dramamine and made a career of it . That day we hooked two tunafish at the same time ,called a double hook up. Back then we use handlines . the fish were balls deep . the Draggers would haul back in the morning and all you do is get along side them as they were pulling in The nets and all the bait in the water would attract the Tuna. you were just about guaranteed to hook up . The fish were big back then too, we had another boat back down and take one of the baskets and go off and fight the fish, while we fought the other one . Both fish were landed , But their fish ended up being bigger than ours and we never saw a dime ha ha I I don’t think Tommy ever got over that he’s not somebody you wanted to cross,
I always used to say, if you told Tommy Burns to take the empire building and move 3 inches to the right and he could figure out a way to do it . Only Gloucester could produce a character like Tom Burns. They broke the mold when he was born. He was an extremely capable person ,he could do anything ,he could fix anything ,or figure anything out .and I don’t think he had much of an education .he was just very clever and intuitive . He was an excellent mechanic . In his younger days he was what they called an Ant-man. Gloucester term. It was said that he could swap out a camshaft in his car to race you if he was challenged in an hour.
later on when I went on my own ,and bought a boat ,he helped me to re-power and rewire . he did an excellent job .he was the whole reason I was able to go fishing . without him I’m lost. I loved the man dearly I didn’t realize how much until his passing he was like a father figure to be I’m going to miss him terribly.

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