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Close To Home, A World Away
Twin Maples on Beach Ave is a tackle and bait shop
Fishworks is a tackle and bait shop in New Harbor
Fishing tournament weigh-in at the Boat Basin
Fishing charter boats leave daily from Old Harbor
Close To Home, A World Away
"Want to buy the treasure map?"
The gleam in his eyes was a portal to
the mischief in his soul. The "treasure
map" he offered to unsuspecting seek-
ers of the best of Block Island purported
to indicate abundant clamming spots,
secret fi
shing ranges, watermelon
patches, and bountiful blackberry bush-
Hermann "Bo" Gempp loved Block
Island from the very fi rst time he stepped
ashore to obtain provisions for the fi sh-
ing boat he was working on. He wasn't
exactly welcomed with open arms by
the shopkeeper at the Seaside Mar-
ket - he clearly didn't come from here
and she was reluctant to part with the
supplies the boat needed so they could
continue their trip. Only an intervention
by Frank Tinker, a fellow fi sherman and
Block Islander, calmed the waters. The
provisions were procured. The voyage
continued, and a lifelong friendship was
Bo returned to the island on a more
regular basis in the 1950s, purchased
property, built a house and started to
set much deeper roots. He had been a
commercial shell fi sherman in Narragan-
sett Bay before his career with the Bell
System and as his affi liation with the
phone company began to wind down,
his enthusiasm for the marine world on
and around Block Island grew. He was a
partner in a lobster business for several
years, worked for the Harbor's Depart-
ment, and well into his 80's, he was a
very vocal member of the Town's Shell-
fi sh Commission and Harbor's Commit-
tee. He took particular pride in his work
with the Shellfi sh Commission in making
the Great Salt Pond a viable, sustain-
able resource for both seasonal visitors
and the year round community.
In recent years he was probably best
known for his small retail lobster busi-
ness. He sold, daily, from his boat in
the Hog Pen while spinning great tales
and dispensing advice to captive audi-
ences. He fi shed the pond and the out-
side reaches of the New Harbor until
his 89th year - picking up an interested
deckhand now and then, and readily
sharing his vast knowledge of all things
marine, weather-related, and beyond.
Bo passed away on August 13, 2016.
Men like him were a special breed. The
footprint he left on Block Island will be
diffi cult to fi ll, but the impact of his vision
and persistence will be enjoyed for gen-
"Bo" Gempp
"Bo" Gempp -- A Tribute By Lisa Sprague, Bo's daughter
His Block Island