Anthony LoFrisco Jr. takes a chain saw to the superstructure of Gloria. / Photos by Thane Grauel
Anthony LoFrisco Jr. takes a chain saw to the superstructure of Gloria. / Photos by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — To some, the broken-up remnants of the oyster boat Gloria were unforgivably unsightly flotsam, a blemish on the brackish shores of Gray’s Creek.

To a small assemblage of locals who made up a working party Thursday and Friday, Alan Sterling’s vessel was a final reminder of an old-school oysterman who passed nine or so years ago and was widely regarded as a great guy who lived a way of life few still know.

That group came with electric chain saws, work gloves and cargo trailers hitched to a shiny pickup, and a well-worn 1980 Jeep with a four-legged pointer named Dancer in the back.

The volunteer with the chain saw was Anthony LoFrisco Jr. On Friday afternoon he began sawing the superstructure of the hand-crafted vessel into pieces.

Also on hand was Michael Calise, who owns the island in the middle of Gray’s Creek where Gloria was berthed by Sterling in her final days as a registered vessel (2015 is the latest, faded sticker affixed to the plywood boat).

That’s about the time Sterling died, and, apparently in the Conservation Commission’s eyes, put Calise on the hook for the wreckage that a recent storm carried off the island.

Calise, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, has been cited by the Conservation Commission for fines upwards of $600. He said he didn’t know how that might shake out, but was troubled more by harsh words of some living nearby. It weighed on him.

“I became the victim of neighborhood complaints,” he said. “I actually had people come up and totally abuse me, ‘How dare you do this?’ I said it was a situation beyond my control.”

Anthony LoFrisco Jr. begins the demo.
Anthony LoFrisco Jr. begins the demo.

Also in the work party was Robert Sodaro, who said he was just a guy helping to do a thing.

A cousin, Calise said.

From left, Robert Sodaro, Michael Calise, Anthony LoFrisco Jr. and Foti Koskinas carve up the remains of Gloria.
From left, Robert Sodaro, Michael Calise, Anthony LoFrisco Jr. and Foti Koskinas carve up the remains of Gloria.

And there was Foti Koskinas, the police chief, tossing carved wood up from the creek bed, perhaps trying to smooth the waters between old-school and present-day Westport, no easy channel to navigate.  

With egrets slowly striding the creek at low tide, and osprey soaring above, the small crew passed weathered portions of the old vessel up a boggy embankment riddled with fiddler crab holes.

Remnants of the hull.
The broken up hull ready to be carted away.
A PFD and some mechanical/electrical gear from the boat.
A PFD and some mechanical/electrical gear from the boat.
Michael Calise and fellow salty dog Dancer.
Michael Calise and his salty dog Dancer.

The wood was splintering and some of it sea slimy. The creek at low tide did its job smelling just like that.

Calise said the crew worked about four hours Thursday and wrapped up Friday’s work in a little over two hours.

There would be no burial at sea for Gloria.

Gray's Creek after the work.
Gray’s Creek after the work.

Instead, she was carved apart and sorted — metal mechanical parts, electronics, plastic port-a-potty — and carted load by load to the Transfer Station. Much of her will likely go up in flames, other parts perhaps being recycled.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 36 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.