Gloucester Fisherman’s Memoir Now Available
Mark S. Williams was born in Gloucester and grew up with Good Harbor Beach as his back yard. His father, Ted Williams, was well known locally as a football player at Gloucester High School, who went on to play football at Boston College and with the Philadelphia Eagles. As a boy, Mark worked for his father at Empire Fish Company on Harbor Loop, played Little League at Stage Fort Park, and worked at his Uncle Russell Howie’s lobster pool on Pirate’s Lane. Years later as a lobsterman, Williams moored his boat, F/V Black Sheep off Pirate’s Lane and it was there, when he decided to retire from lobster fishing that he began to write his book.
“I’d sit in my truck in the art association’s parking lot,” Williams said, “and think about all the times I left there on my boat not knowing what lay ahead. I started writing the stories down and the more I wrote, the more I remembered.” His recollection of those stories was triggered by a terrifying incident detailed in the last chapter of his non-fiction, adventure/memoir F/V Black Sheep published in June by Silver Perch Press.
The book begins on a quiet September afternoon as Williams sets back lobster traps from his boat just off Thacher Island. He was working alone when his leg became entangled in a trawl line and the weight of the traps leaving the boat began to drag him overboard. During the twenty minutes that he clung to the back of the boat trying not to be dragged over, he remembered incident after incident from his boyhood on Good Harbor Beach, working for his father, and through seventeen years as a fisherman. Later, sitting in his truck, he began writing.
There are thirty-one stories in the book, plus an opening and closing chapter. Some are humorous, some frightening, and some are beautiful accounts of the natural world in which he spent his days. Longtime Gloucester residents will particularly enjoy his recollections from the mid-Sixties playing ball, working on the waterfront, and one hilarious visit to a notorious waterfront bar. He includes in it his memory of a night spent drinking in Halibut Point with David “Sully” Sullivan, who was later to die aboard the Andrea Gail.
Except for the opening and closing chapters, each story can be read on its own. One story, “Pirates of the Maine Coast” was chosen for inclusion in Level Best Book’s 2005 anthology Windchill: Crime Stories by New England Writers and published as “Imprisoned in Maine”.
F/V Black Sheep is available at local book stores. To read more about this book visit the web site www.fvBlackSheep.com.