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THE FISHERMAN STATUE

Unveiled last July, this spring marks the beginning of the first full season of striped bass fishing since the completion of this beautiful bronze depiction of a fisherman carrying his catch.
By Ed "East End Eddie" Doherty
THE FISHERMAN STATUE
The Fisherman Statue, created by sculptor David Lewis with inspiration from an old photo of fishing legend Stan Gibbs, rests in the middle of a beautiful memorial in Buzzards Bay Park overlooking the west end of the storied Cape Cod Canal.

Just off of Main Street in Bourne, MA, almost within the shadow of the Railroad Bridge stands a magnificent 10-foot tall monument surrounded by engraved commemorative bricks bearing the names of fishermen and their families. The Fisherman Statue, created by sculptor David Lewis with inspiration from an old photo of fishing legend Stan Gibbs, rests in the middle of a beautiful memorial in Buzzards Bay Park overlooking the west end of the storied Cape Cod Canal. Unveiled last July not far from the ripping currents of the big ditch, this spring marks the beginning of the first full season of striped bass fishing since the completion of this beautiful bronze depiction of a fisherman carrying his catch. Anyone who has even a remote connection to fishing should make it a point to see this precision-detailed masterpiece which is illuminated come sundown for all to enjoy at any time.

Retirees Rob Willis, John Thibodeau and Bourne Police Detective John Doble helped found the Stan Gibbs Cape Cod Canal Fisherman’s Classic many years ago as a way to promote camaraderie and fellowship while pursuing striped bass. Willis had the idea for a statue, thus a fund-raising campaign was born that produced revenue through creative ideas including the sale of the aforementioned bricks.

My father in law, Captain Joe Currier, owned Riptide Charters out of Green Harbor for many years. Sometimes I was his mate, but he was always my fishing buddy. He put many smiles on his customer’s faces as he usually found fish quicker than my wife finds a shoe store. We worked Stellwagen Bank for haddock, cod and tuna until he retired to build custom fishing rods in Florida.

Clerk-Magistrate Brian Kearney contacted my wife Joanne in early 2014 to announce the sale of bricks as a memento to support the Fisherman Fund. His sister, Trooper Maureen Kearney, had just purchased a brick in memory of their father Bill who loved to fish and along with his partner had become the first full-time narcotics officers on the Boston Police Department. Joanne immediately purchased one in my name and another for her father. The plan was that Joanne’s parents would see the brick with the Captain’s name on it when they came north for our daughter’s wedding in June. The project could be seen being assembled piece by piece, brick by brick with the exception of the actual statue which wouldn’t be unveiled until mid-July. The statue wouldn’t be installed soon enough for my in-laws to see before going home, but at least the Captain’s brick would be in place for them by the wedding day.

July 12, 2014 was a beautiful day for the dedication and statue unveiling. Hundreds of people enjoyed this unique event featuring a catered buffet lunch and a live band. Expressions of awe and admiration could be heard throughout the crowd once the iconic figure was finally revealed. Tears were shed, stories were told and relatives and friends embraced in an atmosphere of sentimental appreciation.

Each precious brick serves to stimulate fond memories of the participation of our loved ones in a tremendous sport of physical endurance and intricate skill. One emotional family, crying after touching their special brick, were speaking with Detective Doble and other members of the group responsible for bringing this day to fruition. They said that now they won’t have to go to the cemetery anymore.

Dozens of white balloons were released, lofting up in the sky like a fluffy pale cloud as names of deceased fishermen lost over time were read to the audience. One of those named was Mike Kennedy. A single green balloon seemed to muscle through the rest and float alone above the white cluster until being swept away by the stiff northeast wind. I had the privilege of plugging a dropping tide a few years ago at pole #150 on the Canal with Mike Kennedy and still remember the colorful stories delivered in his thick Tipperary brogue. The green balloon flew in memory of Irish Mike.

Fate had dealt a cruel blow to our family upon learning that Captain Currier was battling terminal cancer, thus preventing him and my mother in law from attending their granddaughter’s wedding. He didn’t make it up here for that nor would he ever again view the majestic sight of high rolling whitecaps crashing on the rocky shore along his beloved New England coast. My Joanne flew south in late July to help her mom and to show her hospitalized father a photo of the brick that had been engraved with his name and that of his boat. A peaceful smile came over the Air Force Veteran’s weathered face as his daughter held the picture for him to see while resting in his hospital bed in Port Charlotte. In two weeks he would be gone forever, up above probably swapping fishing stories with Saint Peter, an accomplished angler himself.

My mother-in-law asked me to give the eulogy for her husband’s funeral at Saint Margaret’s Church which is located only slightly more than a Ron Arra cast down Main Street from the Fisherman Statue. I was honored and realized that this was probably the only funeral in history where there was a legitimate opportunity to say what I said at the end of the service: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please go across the street to see an inscription of the man to whom we pay our respects and you will find a brick that reads, Captain Joe Currier, Riptide Charters.”

If there are stripers to be caught in heaven, it’s even money that the departed anglers named on those bricks are happily spending eternity bouncing a diamond jig off the bottom with a finger on the line and a pleasant twinkle in their eye.

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