On a cold night in March 1956, a Nor’easter raced up the Eastern seaboard as the Italian freighter SS Etrusco made its way from Germany to Boston. The howling Nor’easter took the ship by surprise as it rounded Cape Cod. With reduced visibility, the crew spied a red flashing light and called the Coast Guard who realized the light was at the tip of the jetty at Scituate Light. The huge ship ran aground along the rocky shore next to Scituate Light. The crew of the Etrusco was rescued by the Coast Guard the next day.
The crew’s good fortune didn’t end there. Lena Russo was an Italian émigré who had settled in Cedar Point. She spoke the native tongue of the crew and shared her home with them as lodging while their ship was repaired. During the eight months required to fix the ship, the Etrusco became a tourist attraction, the site of the huge ship off the coast attracting thousands of visitors. Eventually the ship was repaired and hauled out to deeper waters. In appreciation of the local hospitality, the ship was renamed the SS Scituate in honor of our town.