There was a surprisingly glamorous whiff to fish on Montauk Harbor in the 1970s and early 1980s. The commercial dock, Gosman’s retail and wholesale seafood operation next door, the new Dock restaurant next door to that – for many, work was hard and physical, and opportunities to kick back were most welcome.
These photos come by way of Bruce Beckwith, a commercial fisherman with more than 60 years on the water whose current dragger, Allison and Lisa, helps stock Dock to Dish, a CSA-based seafood cooperative. His girlfriend at the time the photographs were taken, Nancy Bangert, managed and then worked as a packer at the fish dock leased first by William Vorpahl and Joe Heagy and then by William Pell. She also worked at Gosman’s Fish Market, where, Bruce said, she took the top photo of John and Rita Gosman and Deet Wright. Deet worked at the market before embarking on a long run waitressing and bartending at the Dock, a haven to such dockside characters as Cal Powers (in the last photo), a Southerner known as “the dancing man.”
John Gosman’s parents had founded the expansive business that bears his surname, and like the rest of his family he worked hard to make it the landmark it is today. In 1972 he also started a series of free concerts on the green between the fish market and the main restaurant, featuring such artists as Richie Havens, Toots Thielemans, and the Heath Brothers, that still returns each summer. Rita worked for more than 40 years as a hostess at Gosman’s Dock restaurant before her death in 2003. Deet died in 2012, and John in 2021.