Life on the Waterfront:Lynch Shares Real Experiences Through Novels

June 24, 2016
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By Katy Rogers

Marlon Brando might have played the part of a longshoremen well on the big screen, but Jim Lynch lived the real life – and now he has made a career out of writing about those experiences.

Local author Lynch was this year’s public guest speaker following the Friends of the Everett Libraries’ annual business meeting on Wednesday, June 15.

Lynch, a Charlestown native, and author of two novels about longshoreman life, talked about his personal experiences on the Boston waterfront. Lynch’s latest novel, “The Longshoremen: Life on the Waterfront” is a historical fiction which follows the lives of three generations in the McGowan family as they make their living on the Boston port.

His previous book, “The Hook and the Badge,” is a fictional murder mystery taking place in the same setting, which he also spoke about and had available for signing.

On June 15, Lynch read excerpts from his newest book and related them to his own experiences as a naive young man inheriting his father’s union card and starting out on the waterfront learning the ropes as he went.

“Being a longshoreman is the last thing I wanted to be,” he shared, “I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school. At the time, I was interested in basketball, baseball, and girls.”

Lynch’s father passed away when he was only 8 years old, and upon his 18th birthday, a family friend visited to explain to young Jim that he was now of age to inherit his father’s union card, which his mother dissuaded him from taking due to the laborious work involved.

Young Lynch, who knew little about the waterfront, recognized the financial gain to make $2 an hour instead of the $0.70 wage he was currently earning.

He grasped the opportunity back in the 1950s.

Jim Lynch holds a hook, like the one he would have used as a young man on the ships.

Jim Lynch holds a hook, like the one he would have used as a young man on the ships.

“I had no idea what a longshoreman actually did,” he admitted, quickly realizing how difficult the responsibilities were.

While his newest book follows a fictional family, it is very closely related to his own experiences, hardships, and challenges that he encountered during his waterfront career both alongside the ships and at home.

After speaking, showing photos, and holding up a hook like the one he used back in the day, Lynch signed autographs in his newest book and answered questions about longshoremen life for Everett attendees.