Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 24, 2011

Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts

Peter and I have vacationed on the Maine coast with our daughter for years, but now that Emily lives on the west coast, we decided to explore other areas on short trips. Pat Lowery Collin’s show, which I blogged about on Monday, brought us to new and gorgeous beaches, some featuring rounded boulders rather than the broken cliffs we love in Maine. We heard the deep bass sounds, like thunder, at Bass Rocks, and trekked around Gloucester, stopping in at Cape Pond Ice, cutting and selling ice chiefly for storing fish for 160 years. We walked along the nearby Stacy Boulevard with the famous fisherman statue.

In the Cape Ann Museum, we saw another small statue of a woman holding a baby that Leonard Craske, who sculpted “Man at the Wheel” in 1925, thought should go with it, captained with lines from John Milton: Those also serve who only stand and wait. Funding and interest in a statue honoring women and children wasn’t there at the time, so this model was put away, and now sometimes displayed in the museum. Ten years ago, another beautiful statue, the Fisherman’s Wives Memorial by Morgan Faulds Pike was finally erected. 

The Cape Ann Museum mixes art and history, and besides carved haddock bones, swordfish swords decorated with scrimshaw, examples of period furniture, models of sailboats, and paintings by Winslow Homer, who spent five summers in the area, Maurice Prendergast, Marsden Avery, and many others, we learned about a net-making company and the granite industry, which was interesting as we’d earlier walked at Halibut Point around an old granite quarry. My sister tells me we went there as children or young teens, but I couldn’t stir up a shred of memory. Maybe I stayed in the car reading, and my sister told me she probably commemorated the late afternoon in her diary with something along the line of: Went to Halibut Point. Boring, boring, boring. But we change, and now I found the water-filled quarry enchanting.

The Cape Ann Museum also holds work from the Folly Cover Designers, a group of 45 mostly women who focused on creating linoleum prints on fabric. We saw examples of cloth, a press, and a picture of one woman jumping on the block to press down the print. The group ran from 1938 to 1969, folding a year after the death of its founder, Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968), author and illustrator of books including The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Here’s a display of her sketchbook with cloth she designed.

I loved the history of Cape Ann, but also the clear light, blue water, round rocks, and seeing my husband enjoy those, too. 



  1. Beautiful!

  2. Thanks for taking us along on your trip! I especially had to smile at the Mike Mulligan and MaryAnne sketches. I’m wondering how many times I read that book to my son–and enjoyed it each time!

  3. Thanks, Rose, and happy back-to-school for all of yours!

  4. Sounds like nice memories with your son. It’s a test of a good picture book when we don’t get tired of it before the child does! Apparently one of Burton’s two boys was named Mike, and that book was made with him in mind.

  5. I’m flashing back to one of my favorite movies of all time, “Captains Courageous.” I was in love with Spencer Tracey, wig and all. And will always remember that touching wreath-tossing ceremony at the end.
    AND I adore Virginia Lee Burton’s works and am especially interested in that cottage industry she started at Folly Cove. I believe I would kill for one of their aprons!

  6. Peter looks very content on the rocks by the water. Nice. 🙂

  7. I did not know about Virginia Lee Burton’s second career as a fabric designer…how very cool! It sounds like a marvelous holiday.

  8. …also meant to add (to the previous post I’d left) that her illustrations make for fine fabric prints.

  9. I’m so glad you were able to enjoy an escape like this. What a great vacation!

  10. I guess I should watch Captains Courageous, for the wig and wreath-tossing if nothing else. I loved the book by Kipling as a kid and was flashing back on my way there.
    Oh, I know you would kill for one of those aprons! Those block prints repeat in a way that I don’t think would grow tiresome. I was happy to learn that when the group broke up, extant work and equipment went straight to this wise museum, but of course there had been purchasers along the way, and it could be fun to obsessively go to area garage sales, antique shops, available attics… I can hear you doing deep breathing at the thought!

  11. Definitely a place to be contented, among boulder friends!

  12. I agree that block style that can feel a bit cold or tiring to me in some of her books, like the Caldecott honor about Robin Hood, work perfectly on fabric. Barbara Elleman wrote a great biography of her with lots of wonderful pictures of all her work, as well as that of her husband, painter and sculptor George Demetriosus. (whose name I’m probably spelling wrong).

  13. Art, ocean, friends, husband, and fried clams, too! What more can one ask?

  14. How nice to see Peter there on the rocks! And what fun to read about your trip. It’s been years since I saw Halibut Point, but I remember the eerie beauty of that quarry pond. Those still depths were such a contrast to the wild crash and roar of the waves nearby.

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