Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Sad Day in Gloucester

Last night Gloucester lost two more of the Finest Kind. Gloucester fishermen Matteo Russo and his father-in-law John Orlando died at sea when a fire broke out on Matt's trawler Patriot. The Coast Guard was called out but surviving a night like last night at sea is not likely. Their bodies were recovered today and the Coast Guard helicopter returned them to Gloucester. Jay Albert has photos of the sad return trip on his blog.

I didn't know Matteo but I knew who he was. I had seen his boat many times in the harbor. It was a well-loved and well-cared-for boat. Joe Ciaramitaro has a slideshow of images that he took of that boat on his blog. There is such sadness and poignancy in looking at them. The pride that he took in his boat is so painful and so beautiful and so sad.

There is nothing one can say in times like these except that "they who go down to the sea in ships, who do business in great waters" are both the bravest and the most vulnerable. It is hard for me to understand the love of the sea and the passion for their chosen way of life that these men have and yet I know that they do --- I know it moreso now than I did a few years ago. It's hard to understand sometimes and yet... and yet not.

I have come to the conclusion that some people are born with a wildness in their spirit that is often difficult to comprehend and yet which can make those who have it so fascinating, so interesting, and, when the wildness overcomes them and they are swept away, so tragic. I am told Matteo leaves behind a pregnant wife and a small son. May God grant peace and comfort to them though I know that will not happen for a very long time. I cannot imagine her pain.

His truck was sitting on the dock this morning, waiting. It is a beautiful day here in Gloucester. The sky is brilliant and the sun was glittering off the newly renovated tower at City Hall --- the tower whose walls bear the names of those lives lost at sea. Two more names will be added to the wall and today all of Gloucester weeps. Even if we did not know them, they were ours. They were what makes us love Gloucester so fiercely. They were, as it is said here, The Finest Kind.

Thanks for reading and God bless...


  1. So sorry to hear of this tragedy. I have a fascination for the sea, even though I have always been land locked.

    You have a wonderful blog site. So very interesting.

    Peace and Blessings.

  2. Such sad news. I imagine a safer life on shore would be agonizing for men like Matteo and Mark. Anyone who loves men like them has to accept that as part of the bargain.


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