Labor Day crowds before the first flu death: Gloucester during the 1918 Pandemic Part 1

This excerpt has been adapted from 1918 Pandemic: Reconstructing How the Flu Raged Then Flattened in Gloucester, Massachusetts when 183 Died in 6 weeks, HERE by Catherine Ryan. Mini posts like this one highlight select weeks during the outbreak as serialized quick reads about this Gloucester history.




World War I guaranteed that the end of summer of 1918 wasn’t carefree and innocent. Still, the traditional Labor Day weekend in Gloucester, Massachusetts, was a big one with residents and visitors traveling to-and-fro thanks to its long established destination reputation. Families hosted guests from in state and out of state. Pleasure boats and fishing boats set out and returned. Art fans were encouraged to Rocky Neck studios and the Gallery on the Moors before their summer season exhibitions closed.

Despite a one-day traffic study banning cars that Sunday, to compel gas rationing, Stage Fort Park was packed:

A large crowd participated in the picnic at Stage Fort Park yesterday, under the auspices of the Wainola Temperance Society and Waino Band. Two fine concerts were given by the band under the direction of Charles A. Glover. There were several tents for the sale of ice cream, tonic and lunches. Two baseball games attracted a large throng in the morning and afternoon…”40



On the pages of the Gloucester Daily Times and Cape Ann Advertiser  and the Manchester Cricket, two local newspapers established in 1888, cultural events, casualty lists, and letters from enlisted men were published –unavoidably and disconcertingly –on the same page at times. Public notices and benefits in support of the war were broadcast over the long weekend, like this striking appeal for fruit stones for gas masks:

Every peach stone counts: Patriotic barrel at board of trade will receive your contribution 

The Board of trade peach stone campaign is meeting with wonderful success and the patriotic sugar barrel which has been placed in front of the rooms of Main street is rapidly being filled with the precious stones. Not only save the peach stones, but plum stones, olive pits, nutshells of all kinds except peanuts because they all make the best charcoal for making the gas masks our soldiers in France wear…One hundred peach stones makes enough charcoal for one mask and peaches are right in the height of their season. Get busy now and bring them…41




The Gloucester Daily Times (GDT) regularly published submissions from the community on one or two inside pages, too. The individual joys & sorrows, boasts, and whereabouts were sorted by town and neighborhood with subheadings Rockport, Pigeon Cove, and Manchester; and in Gloucester, West Gloucester, Riverdale, Annisquam, Lanesville, Magnolia, and East Gloucester.  The columns are chatty and informal, a bit Facebook meets Page Six depending upon the neighborhood.  Downtown, or specifically the Fort and Portuguese Hill, did not have a section.

Because the general public was not informed about the severity of flu deaths in the military that  spring and summer, and even the experts missed possible tell tale signs, the busy destination season continued into September, as did the dreadful war.

The comings and goings over Labor Day were detailed within a September 3rd East Gloucester column.  Residents hosting summer guests, including young men on furlough, were quite possibly literal harbingers of doom or vectors. Visitors on Mt. Pleasant returned to Worcester and Watertown, and back to Somerville from Chapel Street.

Joseph Ehler of the U.S. navy transport service is spending a brief furlough with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Ehler of  Mt. Pleasant Avenue. Walter Peterson of Camp Devens, Ayer, spent the holiday weekend on 8 Davis Street with his mother, Nina. Mrs. Charles E. Locke and family returned to Worcester from Mt. Pleasant. Miss Suzanne Parsons of Mt. Pleasant back from a visit in the South to resume duties at Watertown High School…Mr. and Mrs. Fred Benson and little daughter Elizabeth of Somerville were the weekend and holiday guests of Mrs. Benson’s parents, Lewis Rowe on Chapel Street.42

The East Gloucester column published on September 4th reveals a few more threads of what’s to come. East Gloucester would be hit particularly bad.

…Walter Fenn, the artist, is improving gradually from his illness and at present he is at Rocky Neck.” (At the Chapel Street church school) “a full attendance is requested as business of importance is to come up for consideration and plans for the year made…There remains one more day to view the exhibition of paintings and sculpture at the Gallery-on-the-Moors…Members of the Chapel Street Baptist Sunday School will gather (for the end) of the summer season…” 43 

The first day of school commenced Wednesday, September 4, 1918. Headlines from the paper pronounced a hopeful beginning,

“Teachers and Pupils Enter on Work of the Year with Vigor”.  That  evening, the city hosted a huge public event, “Community Sing at City Hall”.

Community Sing Filled City Hall: Voices Raised High in Patriotic Song
The Community Sing at City hall…combined with the addresses by Dr. M. M. Graham, district service manager of the United States Shipping Board and Corporal Fran A.H. Street, a returned soldier who was twice wounded and later gassed while serving with the Canadian forces, attracted an audience which filled City Hall. Patriotic music was sung, opening with the “Star Spangled Banner,” following which a proclamation was read by President Antoine Silva of the municipal council, representing the city, after which the vast audience joined in singing “Speed Our Republic”…Among those on the platform was Private Joseph Merchant, who has recently returned from “over there” on a furlough after being wounded. The meeting closed with the singing of “America.”44

This special event revved up attention for the draft registration two weeks away. Under the Selective Service Act, all men ages 18 through 45 would be required to register on September 12, 1918, the third and final registration for WWI. 45  Local volunteer committees handled registration for this mandatory conscription and dispensed draft cards and exemption rulings. Booster efforts like the Community Sing in Gloucester were successful. About 13% of Gloucester’s total population would show up at the polls to register.46

Two days later, the first article about a lethal flu in Massachusetts  was published in the Gloucester Daily Times on September 6, 1918 with the state surgeon general’s warning. There was no mention of the disease striking Fort Devens, or any other camp or military branch. The spread of the virulent flu was aptly described as a “pandemic”.  Though small and buried on the inside pages of the GDT, it was printed– ahead of other papers—,  “Lookout Now, Old Mr. Grip is Around”. 47

Old Mr. Grip was already here.

Alicia Unleashed Podcast Hits #100

We made it 100! We got some of the most important people of 2020.


Could you imagine not having your Senior Banquet, Senior Parade, Senior Prom or even your College Commencement?

That is what happened to our guests for this episode.

We Zoomed in with Rebecca Paul; Class of 2020 Tulane University. Tianna Nolasco; Marblehead High. Alycianna Guerrero; Fremont High School. Trinity Glace; Reno High School. Jake Enos, Madison Machado and Ben Renales of Gloucester High School to ask what it felt like to be part of unforgettable class of the century this far.

Join us for this monumental episode.

The Rocky Neck Art Colony (RNAC) announces the launch of its dedicated online exhibition website

A Juried Exhibition Exploring the Portrait

Juror: Amy Sudarsky, figurative painter and curator

Exhibition Dates: June 7 – July 19, 2020

The Rocky Neck Art Colony (RNAC) announces the launch of its dedicated online exhibition website

Fittingly, the first show online is BEYOND LIKENESS, a juried exhibition concentrating on faces. The works in BEYOND LIKENESS examine the genre of portraiture with traditional renditions and dramatic self-portraits in oil paint, watercolor, color pencil, charcoal, Polaroid emulsion and more. Viewers may recognize a subject or two!

A virtual Opening Reception with curator Amy Sudarsky will be held June 7, from 4 to 5, in the comfort of your home via Zoom. For information on how to attend, visit In addition, juror Amy Sudarsky will teach an online class on portraiture, June 15-June 25. For details on the class, visit (Upcoming Workshops)..

About the Juror

Submissions were reviewed and selected by juror Amy Sudarsky, a figurative painter who has exhibited in Boston, New York, and San Francisco. She taught painting and drawing courses at The Art Institute of Boston, Boston University, Washington University and recently at Lesley University. In 2018, she curated the exhibition “In Her Own Image; Self Portraits by Women 1900-2018,” at the Concord Center for the Arts. Her studio is in Allston, MA.

The Artists

The more than 30 well-known artists include Cynthia August, Darien Bird, Linda Bourke, Lizbeth Cabral, Matt Cegelis, Michele Champion, Marija Djakovic, Leon Doucette, Larry Elardo, Phyllis Feld, Nina Fletcher, Erin Garrett-Metz, Moriah Gilbert, Dina Gomery, Hamilton Hayes, Tamara Krendel, Otto Laske, Christopher Lovely, Raymond Magnan, Karen Matthews, Elizabet Menges, Vanessa Michalak, Ruth Mordecai, Rebecca Nagle, Sara Oseasohn, Ruthie Schneider, Kathleen Somers, Helen Tory, Juni Van Dyke, Karen Watson, Christine Whalen-Waller, and Heidi Caswell Zander.

RGB, color pencil on Black Canson Paper, Reference photo by Jabin Botsford

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a modern day hero, responsible for essentially every decision involving Women’s rights.” — Linda Bourke, Gloucester MA


“My self-portrait may seem as a cautionary sign for the viewers but in reality it is the way I step into the world, with caution.” —Lizbeth Cabral, Methuen MA


“The writer Alan Watts once said that when we refer to our lives, it’s absurd to say that we came into the world.  Instead, he suggests that we have grown out of it like fruit off the branch of a tree.

Through the act of painting, I often feel this to be true.” — Leon Doucette, Gloucester MA


“What identifies oneself is more complicated than what meets the eye, for example, DNA, fingerprints, and what lies beneath the skin.  The exploration of human identity is an endless journey.” — Nina Fletcher, Essex MA


Tough Love explores trauma I’ve experienced… the figure emerges from the paint and confidently looks ahead, not as a victim but as a survivor.” —Moriah Gilbert, Somerville MA


Woman in Winter: “Long after my mother was very old, I made this drawing. It was supposed to be of her.  But, my mother was beautiful.  As an old woman, she looked nothing like this drawing.  And yet…there is something about the drawing that reminds me of my mother.  Perhaps it is simply that the drawing was supposed to be of her.” —Juni Van Dyke, Manchester MA



For more information on all Rocky Neck Art Colony activities, visit Contact by email at or phone 978-515-7004.

Gloucesteropoly Boards Pick Up Information for June 1st! Here’s How to Get Yours!



Gloucesteropoly has arrived and is cleared for distribution! The GHS Class of 2020 has worked tirelessly for the second, and final, edition of Gloucesteropoly.  Like everything else over the past few months, production delays, extenuating circumstances, and shipping issues all played a factor in the late arrival of the boards.

The GHS Class of 2020 is very proud and excited to provide the Gloucesteropoly boards! They would also like to full-heartedly THANK the community businesses and game board purchasers for all of their generosity and support!

At this time, we are no longer taking advanced requests for the boards. ​Please adhere to the distribution times listed below for each group (A, B or C) in order to allow for managing the distribution effectively.

Distribution Date:​ Monday, June 1st, 2020.

Distribution Place: ​Gloucester High School.

Distribution Times for Groups A, B & C: ​​Please adhere to the following timeframe that applies to you.

Group A: ​Reserved​ Pick-up for GHS Staff and GHS Student Council Members:​ ​1:00PM – 2:00PM

Group B: ​​Advanced Prepaid​ Pick-up (with ​receipt​) AND ​Unpaid-Reserved​ Pick-up (with ​confirmed email​): 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Group C: Open to Public ​- First come, first served until stock is gone: ​ 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Distribution Instructions:​ Please drive around the front circle of the GHS building (closest to the automotive department). You will be asked for your name and copy of receipt (or email confirmation). Please stay in your cars, while wearing a mask, and game board(s) will be delivered to you.

Cash is preferred and will be accepted via showing the exact amount to the person collecting, and then will be dropped into a bucket for “no contact purposes”. ​Please have the exact amount as making change will not be possible at this time. Gloucesteropoly boards are $25.

If writing a check, please write check out to “Gloucester Public Schools” and add “Class of 2020” in the memo line.

Boards have been in proper storage and untouched for over two weeks. As well, they are in their own individual plastic wrap and will be wiped down with disinfectant prior to distribution. They will be handled by staff wearing gloves and mask at all times. Please be sure to wipe down your board again to ensure your own safety.

If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact Tracy Lowthers (GHS Class of 2020 co-advisor) at her GHS staff email: ​



Cape Ann Home


Beautiful single level living condo with lots of storage and your exclusive outdoor patio space with your own driveway!



OPEN HOUSE  SATURDAY, 5/30  2:30 – 3:30




Headshot (Elise)

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Cape Ann Community

The Sawyer Free Library wants to celebrate the graduating seniors of Gloucester High School! Gloucester is a multi-generational community and we are asking for families to submit their senior photos from the first graduate of Gloucester High School in their family to the one graduating this year! Let us celebrate our new graduates while remembering our past! Submit your pictures to before May 31. In June the library will put together a series of social media posts to celebrate the many graduates! #localhistory #gloucestertogether #SFLlocalhistory”

For more information about Generations of GHD Grads or the Sawyer Free Library visit

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