Corner of High and York streets, running along the west end of Portland, Maine with Commercial street the dry mat of the waterfront was where this Irish and French petite lass felt the most secure and nurtured … This was GeeGee’s dreaming and thought-provoking realm … This was my ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ … My ‘Secret Garden’ … My Newfoundland tested boat to the seas of National Geographic … This boat-crowded and messy, smelly and seagull invested harbor was my perfect soul place! Surely a sea-faring Viking gene sails the spiral of my genome from my Norsemen and Celtic ancestors! Yet, as if from a dry-footed highlander, I am cursed with dreadful mal-de-mer as soon as one foot boards a docked boat whether a Prince of Fundy or the ‘Lazy Day’ fishing boat for paying fishers. God forbid! If I wasn’t heaving over the rails, I was on my knees hugging an opened-faced toilet, swaying, bobbing, gagging, praying for mercy! Oh, to get my hands around that highlander! However, and no matter to anyone but me, I am at least 75 % Viking with light skin and green eyes and hair (once upon a time) black as a moonless night.
I love the sounds of the fishing and the hell-a-bellyaching screeching of the seagulls. I love the guttural groaning of the bright colored buoys that mark the channels, reminding seamen to be alert and when a nor’easter was on the horizon or a fierce thunder storm flung penny nail size rain pellets that fired at roiling waves - and everything else in it’s path - the buoys called out for pray because a gut-filled fishing boat and it’s weary crew were coming in and we did, my grandmother and I, for whoever they were which usually included an uncle or two who hadn’t docked yet.
At the beginning of this blog, I intro with a picture of me … In this you can see a bit of my ‘beloved waterfront’ in the background, this recent photo shows traffic exiting from Commercial Street (waterfront) onto York and High Streets and to the right sitting on the side of the three decker tenement stairs, where from a long ago past, little GeeGee sits waiting for her mother, aunts and uncles to return from the fishing boats, from the sardine packing canneries … The packers will have dinner at their own homes in the West End neighborhood and if conditions are favorable, return to the waterfront to fish for smelts at favorite wharfs with their pails, and boxes to sit on. Others from the West End neighborhood will be there or join them later. I just knew that the following day we’d have golden brown smelts for supper with deep fried quartered potatoes.