Freedom has roots in innocence, the unfenced sunshine of youth. Walking along the Halibut Point shoreline my mind free-wheels through time. Whose is this?
I talked to people who had grown up here in earlier times. I listened to origin stories of ownership of the land.
Edith Polloni Humlin
"The Halibut Point that I really loved was my favorite spot in the world. You go around the Gott house and down that path. There are wading pools and flat rocks where we learned to swim. They have the softest rocks in the world. There was a mooring stone we kids used to go through, and caves.
I was born in Pigeon Cove in 1915. Then we moved up by the Old Farm Inn when my father died, around 1922 or 1923. My friend Eleanor Silva - she was a Balestraci at the time - lived in the white Victorian house that's part of the State Park now, across from the parking lot. Her family used to take their cows into Andrews Hollow where there was a meadow. We could walk from there over to the Halibut Point I'm speaking of, with the soft rocks and the wading pools.
The quarrying had just about stopped, up on the hill. I don't know if there was even water in the quarry at that time. But later, as teenagers, we swam in that quarry.
About that time the Village Improvement Society arranged for that favorite spot of mine to go to The Trustees of Reservations. One day probably in the 1960s Eleanor and I found they'd dug a big ditch to close off the path. We were so mad we took a petition door to door and got them to open it up again."
Mary Pucci Couchman
"I was a year and a half old when we moved to Gott Avenue, probably 1923. There was a lot of vegetation, even in my earliest memories. Wonderful blueberry patches. My mother had a field that went from her back yard to the water. She used to rent it in the summer to a fellow with horses. After we grew up they didn't need a house with so many rooms, so they moved over to Granite Street.
I came back home one year and my father said, don't be walking around the quarries, it's owned by a plastic surgeon from Boston and the picture has changed up there. We are not to go walking along the ocean. It's private property. There are caretakers, two guys living up there, and they love dogs. Dogs bite, Mary, don't go wandering around up there. Of course I'd always come home, and the first thing I'd do would be to take a walk around that wonderful scenic point.
The Websters came and changed the lay of the land, and they had rules and regulations. They put in evergreens. We didn't have evergreens. We had maybe one 'turpentine pine tree,' we called them. The real scrubbies. But these are fancy cultivated evergreens that are up there now. That was wide open. Mr. Korpi used to bring his cattle up there. I used to fly kites there."
"I'm from the old line of Tarrs. In 1690 we got here. My family lived on Broadway.
I grew up in the woods around here. I had huts around Cape Ann. It was a different era. In the summertime we'd tell the folks, "See you in a week," and we'd take off for the woods - rob the farms for vegetables, but nothing more than we could eat. Borrow a dory without telling anybody, and go fishing. It was good.
I used to swim here at Halibut Point as a kid, just occasionally, because this was Pigeon Cove, and I was from Rockport. When I got out of the Service in 1962 I came over to take a swim. The then-owner was starting to turn it into a resort. He threw me out. Doc Webster. He threw me out because I wasn't a member of his association. I immediately got up a petition, put it in the Town Meeting, for this to be taken as park land. I didn't like being told I couldn't be here."
Ted Tarr's decades of political and environmental activism led to many terms in local government on the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Open Space Committee, and Board of Selectmen. He is lifelong member of the Republican Party where one might expect to find private property rights sacrosanct. In next week's essay he will tell us about his pivotal role in State acquisition of Halibut Point by eminent domain.