Growing up, history, to me, meant names I recognized through municipal landmarks, faces I had met on currency, places I had seen on maps. All of this arrived through a weekday force-feeding called school – where I was surrounded by my 25 or so peers, all of whom were equally uninterested in the tattered pages of our hardcover textbooks. That changed in sixth grade. I created a family tree. Mrs. Oldaker assigned the homework. One boy in my class discovered a cousinship with Mrs. Oldaker through a Mayflower Pilgrim. Others found, or more likely became aware of, equally interesting connections. In my tree, I learned about ancestors named McNamara, Lannon, Hare, and even Machado, all of which the world, and even I, had seemed to have forgotten. In the following years, I studied their photographs and learned their stories. To better understand them, and their lives, I studied their eras, their neighborhoods, the personalities that fascinated them, the gripes that irritated them. Most lived in New England. Forgotten New England is history that recreates the world of our ancestors, as they lived it, with all the dirt, sweat, worries, fears, dreams, and fascinations that consumed them.
About the author
I’m Ryan W. Owen, creator of http://www.forgottennewengland.com. My main focus is New England history from the 1850’s forward, but I’ve also spent time researching Irish immigration to the Canadas (Upper and Lower), many eras of Irish history (with a particular focus on the Plantation of Ulster), and the fascinating story of the Portuguese people, including those in Madeira and the Azores.
If you would like to contact me, please post a comment to the blog, or write to me at forgottennewengland at gmail dot com.
31 thoughts on “About”
Hey Ryan, thanks for following RJK. Although I only spent a few days in New England (so far, plan to come back asap), your blog will be interesting to read, I’m sure and looks like a well-reserached and written one -things I admire a lot, so keep up the good work. Take care! J
Hello Ryan, Just discovered your blog today. I don’t live in Billerica but I’ve seen a totem pole (which I recall is near a field or ball park) in Billerica and have wondered about the “why” that pole is there! Maybe you have the answer? Enjoyed reading your blog entry and will watch for more.
Hi Paula – I actually don’t know the story behind that totem pole, but I think that would be a great topic for one of my future posts/columns. Thanks for stopping by – and for the comment!
Hello Ryan, Thanks for following Streets of Salem. Your blog looks like it’s right up my alley, and I will return often! Love your theme too.
Ryan – do you mind that I may on occasion provide a link to your articles on a Facebook group called Growing Up in Chelmsford? People in that group are very nostalgic for most everything you write about. You may even have gained some new subscribers since I posted a link to your Bon Marche article a week ago, which people loved. I just wanted to make sure I’m complying with your copyright notice.
Hi Karen – I always appreciate links. Thanks for the referral last week. I found out that there’s lots of nostalgia for the Bon Marche, and I’m guessing that there’s some out there for the Green Ridge Turkey Farm too. I look forward to checking out your Facebook group. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, one of my favorite memories of Chelmsford is, of course, Child World.
OMG, Child World. I forgot about that store! You’ve got a great memory for this stuff. And yes, join the group. Your contribution would be invaluable.
Remember Fayva and Hit or Miss? Those were the days!!
Great piece on Green Ridge. Here’s one I can find nothing at all about. Not far from Green Rodge, where stands the Phesant Lane mall now, back in the early 1960’s someone had a miniature (similar in size to a “park” train) live steam railroad that you could ride. The place was called “Abdallah Amusement Park”. I rode it with my father a number of times as a kid. As I remember, the track went a considerable distance down to near the (was B&M) Pan Am Railways tracks.
Oh, Karen – My wife’s and my favourite part of traveling through Chelmsford; Lunch at Skip’s!
Hi Will, Thanks. I’m going to look into that. I remember the Drive-In being close to where the mall now stands, and I remember the land being mostly clear, probably abandoned farmland. I’ll see what I can find on the amusement park. I’ve been tempted to look into some of the amusement parks of the past. Who can forget Skips? That was a great place!
Thanks Ryan, yes, it was behind the Drive-In, just barely in New Hampshire. I think they had grand plans to expand beyond just the train ride. I think it only lasted about three years or so. To a train-crazy kid though, it was close to heaven!
Ahhh, for a pizza-burger!
Someone just brought up Skip’s in our “Growing up in Chelmsford” Facebook Group. It was a great place, and popular with truckers because it had a large enough parking lot, and good cheap food too! It really wasn’t all that long ago that it was closed and then demolished. People in town really miss it still.
I was originally introduced to Skip’s back in the 1970’s by a friend in Sudbury who, at the time drove a truck for an explosives company (yeah, “yikes!”). I had forgotten about it for years until in the very late ’80’s when from time to time I’d have to pass through Chelmsford on my way to New Hampshire or Maine. Then I introduced my wife to Skip’s. One strong memory I have was when I got laid off fron Digital Equipment Corp. back in ’93. On my final day, I cleaned out my office, loaded my stuff in my car and decided that even though Chelmsford was in the opposite direction from home, one of Donna’s martinis and a Pizza Burger for lunch would sure make the situation a lot less painful. Okay, so it was two martinis and also a load of the free crackers and cheese they kept in the lounge…
Getting laid off from Digital, I hear you Will. I was laid off from Wang in 1991. Hopefully you were able to find something not long afterward. Those were harrowing days, but merely a harbinger of what we’re facing today.
Ive been searching from sometime now for specific photos of lowell and have no idea how I have been missing this website. I was wondering, one photo i am struggling to get my hands on is a pic of the King of the Speare house that used to be on the Pawtucket Blvd. Have you seen this kicking around at all?
Hi Ian – thanks for the comment. I can see the Speare House in my mind’s eye, but haven’t come across a photograph. I’ve been working on a post about the Pawtucket Blvd when it was a race course. I’ll watch for photographs of the Speare House as I research it.
Hello-I have some of the chairs from that restaurant-they are carved with knights and shields-really cool piece of history from that place.
Great site! Really brings back lots of memories. How ’bout pizza at the Wallbrook?
Thanks Susan. I’ll look into the Wallbrook. Thanks!
Greatly enjoying your posts – especially those about Lowell.
Ryan, I enjoy your blog and great New England stories. My 10th g-grandfather William French was one of the original landowners of Billerica and the family was active in Lowell politics and commerce for many years. Abram (1803-79) of Lowell was on the city council, a merchant-tailor, an abolitionist and active in the locofocos movement!
Hi Ryan- Thank you for following my blog. History is the nature of my work as well. I am thrilled to see your deep interest in your familys past. I went to school in New England and have had a few lifetimes there myself. I am sure with your keen interest there you have had many lifetimes there. I enjoyed reading your blog. Great historical stories.
I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.
i went there when i was 15 or 16 but i rember moe and his bean and coffee and skating there for years and love it they let me tell people if they was going fast to slow down it was fun and i rollor skating too
We’re putting up a recommended blogs sidebar on our blog nhmarkers.wordpress.com. Would you mind if we put a link to Forgotten New England up?
Not at all. Thanks!
Thanks for your very informative articles! I share them through an RSS feed at “Stories from Ipswich and the North Shore,” http://ipswich.wordpress.com
I just found you today. So wonderful. Born and raised in Lowell, way back then. 1941. Thank you.
I just found you today!! Loved reading about Sacred Heart Parish. My mom and her siblings attended SH school. They were all married in the church /then I and siblings attended SH school born in The Grove on South Whipple St lives there 7 years then my parents bought their own home in Cosgrove St in “Swede Village”. Our home til we sold it mid 80’s. I still visit Lowell a few times a month. I’m only 30 min drive away. Thank You so much. I’ll let my family know about this site!!
Two posts in one wee. Impressive! <ore please.
Thanks! More soon.