It seems that many years ago the men of Rockport spent lots of time in the taverns with way too much rum. There were brawls and families disrupted....women frustrated in trying to sober their husbands. All of that stopped when Hannah Jumper decided to take matters in hand. One day she organized the women and children of the town to assemble at an appointed hour. They descended on the town with fervor....emptying every home and tavern or their rum...tossing it into the bay and vowing that the town of Rockport would be a dry town forever! That was in the 1800's and the town is still dry today. You can bring your bottle of wine into a restaurant to enjoy with your dinner....but you'll find no alcahol for sale anywhere within the town limits of Rockport. Many folks make the short drive to Gloucester for their celebrating. Rockport remains quiet and very dry indeed. We went to a town mtg. once when we were visiting. The crowds were enormous because some restaurant owners were trying to change the laws. TV cameras rolled and reesidents took their turns testifying....the booze was defeated...soundly. This is a town where everyone votes directly without a councilperson to represent them. It was quite an experience to see a truly old fashioned town meeting.
UPDATE: On my 2008 visit, I learned that the liquor laws were finally changed to allow you to have a drink with dinner. Don't want to order food? Sorry. No drink. The ghost of Hannah wants no nonsense in Rockport. :-)
It's called passive recreation and hundreds of people love doing it. You walk to the end of the peninsula where you can see the boats in the cove and the ocean beyond. Restful, beautiful, refreshing, and soulfull.
The coast is full of granite rock...hence the name. There is a granite quarry about 2 miles north of the town.
WILL YOU MARRY ME?~ROMANCE IN ROCKPORT*
The story begins with a lad from Ireland who found my pages about Rockport, Massachusetts on VIRTUAL TOURIST and wrote to me for help with his trip to the states in October. Seems he and his "Welsh lady" would be doing a bus tour to include Rockport and he had an idea for a creative proposal of marriage! I helped him with a few contacts which gave him permission to post a banner on Motif #1 (a popular red fishing shack everyone photographs). His banner would read.....
........................... WILL YOU MARRY ME?
My husband and I went up to Rockport to meet Tomas and "his lady"... taking Aussie along for the ride (cause she loves a good love story too). We found the banner on Motif #1 as scheduled. We waited and waited... wondering as each couple came past... would this be them? I had no photo of Tomas and didn't even know how old he was... or anything else about him. A photographer from the Gloucester Daily Times came by and waited with us for an hour or so...hoping for a pic to accompany the human interest story scheduled to be in the newapaper.
Soon a harbormaster motored past and motioned to us... where are they? We laughed to think people around the town seemed to know what was happening today. (later we learned the Harbormasters helped by posting the banner)
Occasionally a couple would come by and read the sign and we would ask, "Are you Rosalind?" Two of the couples were celebrating their wedding anniversaries and they waited with us for a while hoping to see the lovebirds... but everyone gave up and finally left.
Yet another harbor master came by and asked... where are they? We were getting discouraged when it was turning into a 2 hour wait. We finally went for chowder and checked back later. Banner was still there. I attached my business card to it and we decided to leave.
Passing a young couple as we left, we decided to watch from afar. Sure enough...it was them!
I photographed from a distance..zooming as much as possible.
Thankfully Rosalind said "yes" to Tomas' proposal of marriage posted boldly on Motif #1 when they arrived from Ireland on a bright Saturday in October. Their tour made a brief stop in Rockport, where he had arranged for a banner to pop the question for him. We watched at a distance as he knelt before her... and we could hear her glee as she realized the banner was for her... and the moment was so joyous she could hardly contain herself. They reported heavily beating hearts and Rosalind... total surprise.
We later joined them and celebrated with a cappachino while we got to know a bit more about this sweet couple. We all had a quick but fun visit before they had to board the tour bus and push off to the next stop. The tour guide was so tickled when Tomas told her the story that it all had to be told to the busload of tourists before they got underway. Everyone was tickled by the story.
We're hoping we see them again on another trip to the US or if we should pass through Dublin or Wales. Don't you just love happy endings?
More pics of the happy young couple in my Local Customs tips.
** Update ** Recently heard from Tomas who sent wedding pictures of a most gorgeous day. Must check his VT page to see if he's posted them there.
Rockport has a year-round population of about 7,000. This triples in the summertime. Be advised that the locals don't enjoy the annual invasion into their quiet community, so they tend to vote against anything which would make the town a little more tourist-friendly. Don't look for changes with regard to alcohol, mass transit or parking anytime soon.
Rockport is a typical little puritanical New England town in that it is 'dry' -- i.e., no alcoholic beverages can be sold, not even in restaurants. If you bring your own beer or wine, however, most places will gladly serve it to you along with your meal.
On my last trip to Pigeon Cove I noticed bumper stickers and signs all over the place proclaiming unfairness to fishermen in whatever legislation they were boycotting. Life is hard on the water... men work hard to put bread on the table... and they are obviously struggling with environmentalists' laws which make their work harder each year. There are no easy answers for such things as overfishing for a growing population and demand.
There is a co-op for the fishermen in Pigeon Cove. This is where the fish and lobsters are hauled in and weighed... then shipped off to local eateries or markets. How many crustaceans must move through this tiny place each day?
Ever wonder where those great lobsters come from when you're having dinner in a swank restaurant? These are the folks who bring them in. Hard work... lots of traps....