There are a variety of displays of Gloucester history all around town but one of the most interesting appears in the Crow’s Nest. Probably not your first stop when seeking history, but the walls are rich in Gloucester heritage displays. This Norman Rockwell print is one such example at the Crow’s Nest.
“Lucky Catch” (sometime referred to also as “Mermaid”) by Norman Rockwell appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post Aug 20 1955 and created quite a stir. The story can be found here, but the significant piece of the story for Gloucester is the 81 year old lobsterman tapped to be the model: Walter E. Marchant. Walter was born in 1873, lived and lobstered in Gloucester all his life. He died just a few years after the cover appeared.
In my search for his identity, I sought assistance from Lois at the City Archives (thanks so much Lois!). I also went over the the library as well as to Cape Ann Museum; by the time I got home an email from Lois was waiting for me. This was a link to a Boston Globe article Sept 18 1955 verifying the identity of the pictured lobsterman. The article is very interesting and I encourage you to read it through. He describes Norman Rockwell as a “nice sort of duck”. Walter travelled to Stockbridge to sit for the artist which I imagine was no small undertaking for him.
As I sought out further information about Walter, I found a very intriguing story including his redesign of the lobster pot which was apparently successful in luring the lobsters. As a young man, he participated in a rescue off the breakwater of the Schooner Nautilus in 1905 out of the life saving station at Dolliver’s Neck. This article from the Boston Herald Sept 4 1955 shows a picture and we understand why this man was chosen as a model.
It’s a classic Gloucester story commemorated in true Norman Rockwell fashion for “Lucky Catch”.