Jun. 23—CSI-Crow's Nest can stand down. The treasured photo album is back under the bar.
The album, a visual timeline of the bar's history and especially its indelible connection to the 2000 feature film "The Perfect Storm," was stolen on Sunday afternoon by an unidentified out-of-town visitor to the Nest.
At about 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Nest's regular mail carrier, Jen Quinn, brought a box into the bar. It was addressed to the Crow's Nest at 334 Main St. The return address was a street address in "Georgia, GA."
Inside, owner Gregg Sousa found the photo album, seemingly unharmed from its short flight from the Nest, and an unsigned note.
"I just wanted to return this," the typed note stated. "It was taken by a drunk friend, and I do not feel that was right. SORRY."
Sousa was happy and relieved to have the album back in the friendly confines of the Nest.
"It was Priority Mail," so it must have been mailed yesterday," said Sousa, who is part of the tag-team ownership of the bar with his wife, Mary Anne Shatford.
Its return ends a desultory three days for the owners and regular patrons of what — along with Pratty's — is one of the two remaining blue collar bars along the city's famed waterfront.
"I really didn't have any hope for getting it back," Shatford said Wednesday. "We're so happy. We sort of felt violated before and now everything is fine again."
Sousa said one of the patrons on Wednesday predicted the hat-box sized container held the album when he saw the return address.
"Either that or a human head," Sousa said.
Thankfully, it was the former.
But Shatford believes the return address affixed by the anonymous sender was a false flag.
She remembered waiting on four out-of-towners at the end of the bar on Sunday who ultimately emerged as the bar's chief suspects of the chicanery. One couple, according to Shatford, said they were from Georgia. The other couple identified themselves as a man from Florida and a woman from Boston. They all viewed the album.
That rung a bell again on Wednesday after she saw the U.S. Postal Service label that listed the zip code 02145 — Somerville and Medford, Massachusetts — as the point of sending origin for the box.
"The album never got to Georgia," she said.
Sousa said one of the first orders of business will be the digitization of the photos — many of them irreplaceable — in the album's collection to mitigate any future loss and the resulting anger and disappointment.
The anger and disappointment at the theft didn't end at the doors to the bar.
All over the city and into other reaches of Cape Ann, people expressed their outrage — there really is no other word — in person and on social media that such an iconic touchstone and a primary-source slice of the city's legendary fishing history, was stolen.
The questions were uniform and simple: Stolen? They stole it? Who would do that?
Through its images and clippings, the collection chronicles the Nest's cinematic debut as the drinking establishment of choice among fishermen in "The Perfect Storm" and fans of the film have flocked to the Nest to see it.
Time and time again, online reviews mentioned the album and regarded it as a must-view.
"People from all over the world have looked at that album," Shatford said after the theft.
The album, a distinctive red, contains dozens of photos taken during the filming of the movie.
There are several images of the film's stars, including George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Diane Lane, in candid moments with owners, family members and bar patrons.
Perhaps more important to the extended Nest family, the collection also served as an archive of longtime patrons and regulars at the Nest, many of whom have passed on.
Late Sunday afternoon, near the change of shift, Shatford and bartender Bob Masjoan noticed the album — kept below the bar for ready access by interested patrons and visitors — was missing.
The last time they remembered seeing it was in the possession of the four unfamiliar individuals — two men and two women — sitting at the closed end of the bar.
Once those two couples left, the album was discovered to be missing.
Shatford was on it.
She went on to social media that night to express her dismay and disappointment. She canvassed video surveillance footage. That produced one still shot of the likely culprit walking down the Main Street sidewalk opposite Rose Marine, holding a red book album in his left hand.
"That's our album," Shatford said as soon as she saw the footage.
Other Gloucester restaurants kept a collective eye out for anyone resembling the book-toter in the well-traveled photo. There was even a false alarm at Machaca.
Bar patrons and other fans of the Nest pitched in.
At least three Cape Ann residents pledged $100 each if the Nest decided to put up a reward. Kerry McKenna, a friend and fan of the bar, helped Shatford assemble a media campaign to spread the word of the loss throughout the Boston market.
Shatford was interviewed on camera in the bar on Tuesday night by WBZ-TV for a segment on the 11 p.m. broadcast. In it she reiterated her appeal for its return.
Less than 12 hours later, it was home.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.