Bench honors Swifts Beach stalwarts

Aug 19, 2020

A new bench at Swifts Beach pays tribute to Robert “Bumpa” James and Joseph “Dr. Joe” Goggin -- two men who spent decades-worth of summers at Swifts Beach with their families.

The bench was requested by James’ daughters, Cathi James Maurice and Patti Boucher, along with James’ grandson, Jake Boucher.

James met his wife, Ann, at the beach when they were teenagers. They also befriended Goggin. Each year, generations of the James family and the Goggin family return to the neighborhood to reunite and spend time together on the beach and in the cottage built by Anne James’ father the year she was born.

“My parents have been hanging around Swifts Beach their entire life, and we’ve been hanging around there our entire life,” said Cathi James Maurice.

On many summer days, the families will take up almost a third of the beach, sitting with their chairs in a big circle on the sand.

Jake Boucher wrote to the town to propose the new bench, which is in the place of one frequented by his grandparents for decades before it was eventually dismantled.

“My grandfather and grandmother spent many an afternoon and evening sitting hand in hand on the old bench, looking out across the bay and enjoying the salt air. I know [a memorial bench] would mean the world to my grandmother, and the rest of my family. It would give her a place to sit and remember her late husband and companion,” Boucher wrote.

“Bumpa taught us how to water ski and to fish, to dig for clams and catch fiddler crabs. He built countless sandcastles at low tide and played any game we could think of on the sands or in the yard at the Big House. He was ever present on the porch at the house, ready to greet you with a wry comment or witty remark,” Boucher recalled.

The bench was approved by the Board of Selectmen, and recently installed -- much to Ann’s surprise and delight.