The Fish Shack crew had been working to restore the Shack for a year when Paul D’Antonio suddenly passed away. At that point these hammer-wielding volunteers were best described as a disparate group of Lanesville residents united only by showing up in Lane’s Cove every single Saturday morning with tools. Along with others, there was an ex-Navy guy, an internist, an artist, a handyman-gardener, a woman who had grown up looking at the Shack every day of her life, and Arnie Shore, recently retired as Associate Vice Provost for Research at Boston College.
Shore describes the career he departed this way: “If a professor wanted to submit a proposal for funding, it went through my office. If there was a need to reconsider any aspects of the Animal Lab, it went through my office…Anything and everything having to do with research at Boston College coursed through my office. A great, fun job with thirty employees reporting to me.”
Shore’s job upon retiring to Lanesville with his wife Laurisa in 2010 got even better; he became the expert walker of Butler, a white dog with brown spots, broad chest, extremely low center of gravity, and movie star charm. Describing his retirement move into a small 19th century house at the top of Lane’s Cove, Shore says, “Adam had his paradise; Arnie had his.”
The Shores quickly became friends with their neighbors the Hafeys, and to be friends with Jim Hafey is to find yourself on the Fish Shack Building Committee. Shore appeared at his first meeting, and, to his surprise, Hafey introduced him to the group as “Chairman of Fundraising.” Shore says that co-chair Barb Jobe deserves applause for the fund raising momentum that crescendoed from there.
Donated building supplies – shingles, roofing, wood – piled up; funds flowed in. Arnie still shakes his head, mystified by people’s generosity; “nobody ever said no,” he said, with that classic Arnie voice that at the last second of the sentence turns into a question, as if Arnie is still asking “how is that possible?”
About Paul D’Antonio’s death, Shore says, “I heard the news at the Gloucester House the next day. There had been a reception honoring Damon Cummings. I walked in and Barb Jobe and Russell Hobbs were there; they said to me, ‘sit down. Paul died. We’re not telling Damon yet.’ Immediately, it felt like we were a family.”
Until Paul D’Antonio passed away, the Fish Shack volunteers had not known how adhered they were to each other, what all those weather-beaten Saturdays had made of them.
“My whole career I was trying to get entities to come together,” Arnie said. He left the second half of the sentence empty. Of course, he was referring to the mystery of how a sagging fish shack had inexplicably bonded these naturally discordant Lanesville residents into a family without them even knowing.
By Heather Atwood