An Item Of Sentimental Value


The photo above is a cocktail glass from Ship’s Haven restaurant that used to stand along Route 1 in Lynnfield, MA.

Now known as simply ‘The Ship’ the restaurant has undergone a few transformations and ownerships over time.   The history from the website is as follows:

May, 1925— Captain James F. Wilkinson, retired Sea Captain out of Gloucester, Mass., started a small refreshment stand on the New-buryport Turnpike here in Lynnfield, Mass. The business grew tremendously, but all the while Captain was dreaming of the time when he would build his own ship. Five years ago his dream came true, and although the ship that he built will never sail the seven seas it is probably the most authentic ship ever built for dry land. Crossing the gangplank patrons of “Ships’ Haven” enter the lobby where the “Purser’s Office” and the check room are located. To the left is the Dining Salon in the stern. Ship’s lantern’s swing overhead and portholes are as authentic as those used in the construction of ocean-going liners. To the right is the Cocktail Lounge arranged in true nautical style. From the lobby a stairway ascends to the upper deck, and here one will find Private Dining Rooms. Captain Wilkinson has left behind him a moment of achievement both spiritual and physical. The beautiful cup contenders in the Dining Salon and other ship models all over the ship are all products of his hands—–the beauty of sails fascinated him. Often he would be found on the bridge of the Ship fashioning a sail boat or some other thing of the sea from apiece of wood with a jack knife. The walls of the Bridge are covered by his charts and the Bridge is made complete with his compass and big ship’s bell which hangs just outside the window. The tides of the sea will not erase his memory. All in all, Ships’ Haven in its appointment offers you something different that you will not find in your travels anywhere in the United States. The ship now sails under the Captaincy of Ralph and Rose Wilkinson. Their efficiency is noted in its smooth sailing.

During my mother’s visit last week, she spoke at length about her former mother in law, who I referred to as Nana.  She and her second husband, a swarthy Italian crooner named Alphonse Centola lived in Watertown, MA.  I recall infrequent visits to Nana and Grampa Centola’s home in my childhood before Grampa died when I was ten. Per my mother; she and Dad used to quite frequently make the two hour drive south to visit with Dad’s mother and Stepfather. They would always ask where she wanted to go to dinner, and the answer was always the same.

Mom recalled that she always suggested going to The Ship’s Haven restaurant because she liked the atmosphere and the food, and that no one ever objected to this destination for dinner. She also told me that when they dined there my Nana would always pilfer a cocktail glass or two and take them home with her.  The one pictured above is the last (that I know of) surviving one of Nana’s career as a cocktail glass thief.  It resided in my mother’s china cabinet for my entire childhood.  It now has a place of honor in my own china cabinet.

I didn’t know the full history of how this glass came to be in my mother’s possession until after I had asked to take it from her home to mine. She didn’t even mention it to me at that time, she just said ‘Of course, be my guest.’  I always liked the glass and just wanted it for myself after seeing it in my mom’s dining room for so many years. I have a few other pieces, none of anything more than ‘sentimental’ value, that are prized possessions I would never part with, at least not unless my own kids want them some day when I’ve had them for 40 years myself.

Mom had, before this past week, forgotten that I had it. As we discussed their visits to Nana and Grampa’s Mom recounted Nana’s theft of the cocktail glasses and I reminded her I knew of this, and had the last one (that I’m aware of) that had made it from her ill-gotten set from the 1950’s/1960’s in my own dining room. I searched eBay earlier, not to even consider selling it. I just wanted to see if there were any others floating around. I also wouldn’t really want to buy any others….they don’t have the same sentimental value to me as this one does, knowing Nana stole it from the restaurant nearly 50 years ago.

I have mostly ‘memories’ that connect me to Nana.  There are a few photos as well, and another prized possession – a ceramic peacock lamp that has blue and green ‘jewels’ along the tail that light up. I used to stare at it for hours at Nana’s house when I was a boy, and when she knew she’d no longer be living in her own home, she asked what I might like to have of hers. I hesitated to ask for anything really as I just didn’t feel all that comfortable with it, but once she insisted I relented and mentioned this one item as being the only, and most desired, thing that she had that I might want.  On my next visit to where she lived until her death, she had the lamp concealed beside her on the couch and brought it forth to present to me. It has held a place of honor in my home and my life ever since.

I’ve never eaten at the present day incarnation of The Ship’s Haven – but it’s nice to own a piece of their history that connects to my own.  I do wish I’d known how Nana came to ‘obtain’ the glass so that we could have had a laugh about it before she passed away.  But regardless, it’s also nice to have a memento from her, and knowing how she came by it brings a smile to my face every time I look at it.


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