|Howard Blackburn knew he was "born to be a fisherman - a Gloucester Fisherman." In 1883 at the age of 23, Howard crewed aboard the schooner Grace L. Fears off the coast of Newfoundland.
On a blustery January day, Howard, in his 18ft. dory, was separated from the Fears as the sky turned gray and the thick snow began to fall. Howard persevered alone at sea, after his dorymate succumbed to the elements and lack of provisions.
As his hands began to freeze, numbness set in. Howard painfully bent his fingers around his oars; his hands became frozen claws. After five days, he finally reached shore, hands still clenched about his oars. He was nursed back to health but his fingers, thumbs and several toes did not survive. Howard Blackburn returned to Gloucester, a hero.
Undaunted by his adventure, Captain Blackburn yearned for the sea. Solo, he navigated across the Atlantic... his destination, Gloucester, England. Other lone excursions followed. He became affectionately known as the Fingerless Navigator.
In between stints at sea, Howard set up shop as a saloonkeeper at 289 Main. Prohibition delayed his plans, but local sentiment was with him, "if any man in our city has the right to sell liquor that man is Mr. Blackburn."
Blackburn's became "one of the best known saloons on the North Atlantic seaboard."
There he stood behind the bar, cigar clenched in the thumb stub of one hand... After he had filled one of the big pot-bellied beer glasses from the tap, he squeezed the stem between the creases in both hands, set it on the bar and gave it a flourishing shove down the length...
Blackburn's was a workingmen's club; "fighting, frivolity and loud talk were not allowed." He and his saloon were legendary.
In reverence to Captain Blackburn, the legend of Blackburn continues. We aim to provide great food at affordable prices and a warm atmosphere to keep you coming back.
excerpts taken from Lone Voyager by Joseph E. Garland