To the members of the Gloucester City Council:
For the greater part of my life I’ve been tending several family grave sites in Gloucester cemeteries. It gives me pleasure to remember and respect my ancestors.
A Gloucester Girl, I’ve lived almost 50 years in the nearby town of Ipswich. I love the town and have served it in many ways, as a teacher and as a library trustee. But my heart remains in Gloucester, my hometown.
As a kid growing up in Gloucester I accompanied my mother, a native of the city,on her rounds,caring for the family grave sites. We used to walk from our home on 31 Beacon Street to the Clark Cemetery, off Centennial avenue where my mother’s mother was buried with her family members. She had died from a massive stroke at the age of 32.
Later, I’d drive my mother to the cemeteries. The last time she and I were at the Clark Cemetery,many years ago, was heartbreaking. We walked through the First Parish Cemetery to the Clark Cemetery. The family site was a horror to see! The stone had been toppled over,broken,and used as a fire pit. I can still see it. I felt so badly for my mother whose mother’s gravesite had been desecrated! My mother was left motherless at the age of 9. While she and her sister were brought up by a maternal aunt and her husband, she didn’t have the comfort and caring of her own mother. I remember what she said. After absorbing the ugly scene in front of us,she said, “I’ll never come here,again.” And she never did. She said goodbye to her mother and other relatives including Celia Anne Clark Hinckley, her grandmother, part of the Clark family after whom the cemetery is named.
Years later my youngest daughter, Martha and I visited the cemetery. Now it was all overgrown. No one was caring for the cemetery at all. I didn’t plan to go there ever again.The city had no money for such relatively unimportant things as cemeteries. I remember when my dad,John B.O’Connell,Sr., alderman and later city councilor, during the 50’s and 60’s, introduced an order to clean up the little cemetery across the street from McPherson Housing for the Elderly. The place was cleaned up.
Sometimes change occurs when you least expect it. Last summer as I was reading Good Morning Gloucester on my computer, I came across some information about the First Parish Cemetery and the Clark Cemetery. I couldn’t believe it! My neighbor across the street in Ipswich, Rachel Meyer, was undertaking a cleanup of those two cemeteries! She was looking for help. Naturally, I called her. While I couldn’t offer any physical help since I’m not able, I could offer encouragement and a contribution. I did this.
Now it’s a year later. A lot has been accomplished with goats and people, but more needs to be done. I hope the council will support the continuing restoration of these historic Gloucester cemeteries.
Marion O’Connell Frost