Thomas “T” Gandolfo of Provincetown and Gulfport, Fla., died on July 19, 2020, in Gulfport following a short illness. He was 75.
Born in Methuen in 1945, Gandolfo combined the Italian passion and independence of his mother’s Neapolitan and his father’s Sicilian backgrounds. At age seven he would take the bus with his friends to Boston and watch his lifelong favorite Red Sox from the Fenway Park bleachers.
He had a great singing voice. He often sang on street corners, favoring doo-wop, which he continued to love for the rest of his life. As a teenager, he worked the boardwalk on Revere Beach, encouraging people to spend money on impossible games of chance. A star salesman was born.
T came of age in the ’60s. He graduated from Revere High School and later from the New School in New York City. He was a well-groomed hippie, with hair down to his backside. He briefly worked as a counselor for drug addicts, accessing his empathy for people who struggled. Then he opened a head shop in Revere, offering paraphernalia and clothing.
He came to Provincetown in the ’70s and promptly fell in love. Here was the artist colony, spiritual vibe, beautiful seaside, happening town, and opportunities he was seeking. It fit like a fine leather glove.
With his wife, Celine, he opened Northern Lights Leather in 1974 and the Hammock Shop in 1980. With the help of T’s cousin Bobby Corcione, they created a leather shop that became a nationally known destination. T and Celine helped designers with color choices and styles. He also carved in leather and created beautiful belts and other accessories.
The seasonality of the business allowed the couple to travel in the off season, enjoying other cultures, food, and, ultimately, diving. He became entranced with undersea life and began photographing it. His photographs and unique perspective revealed the vibrancy and fragility of sea life, a world of beauty and grace.
In the late ’70s he joined the Beachcombers Club and became a fixture, including serving for a time as First Mate. He organized the 100th anniversary party of the club in September 2016. One of his favorite things was to arrive early on a Saturday night and gracefully beat all of the other Beachcombers at pool. His many friends there will miss his sparkling presence.
For 20 years starting in 1999, T hosted a regular show on WOMR called “T Bird’s Blues Ride.” At first it was doo-wop; later he settled into blues, which he said covered a range of music and a growing movement of young new artists, something he was always excited about. He organized festivals for the community radio station he adored.
He loved animals, and looked like a fish himself when he was diving. He loved the tropics and the sun.
When he decided to give up the hammock shop he gave the business to two employees, the late Marty Buckosh and Nancy Poucher, who still operates it online.
T is survived by his mother, Donna Gandolfo of Revere; his partner, Melissa Yeaw of North Truro; his former wife and best friend, Celine Gandolfo; his brother, Joe Gandolfo; and many cousins, nephews and nieces. He leaves countless friends in Provincetown and Florida.
There will be a ceremony celebrating his life in both Provincetown and Florida after the pandemic has eased.