In the days before refrigeration, ice was a valuable winter cash crop for enterprising businessmen. Ice was a year-round staple in most households, and many families would give up food before they would give up ice. As a region, New England was well-known for its quality ice. The region's severe cold coupled with its deep ponds produced…Read more Past Occupations: Ice Cutters in Massachusetts
On a summer morning in July 1890, the cyclone hit Lawrence, Massachusetts suddenly and without warning. What we would today call a tornado or microburst began as soft showers advancing across the city as people made their way to work on Saturday, July 26, 1890. As nine o'clock approached, the clouds thickened and darkened the sky. The…Read more The Day a Cyclone hit Lawrence, Massachusetts – 1890
Lowell's Irish and French Canadian populations long had an uneasy relationship. I grew up hearing about it, a century after the French Canadians first starting appearing in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1870s. By the time the French Canadians began arriving in Lowell, the Irish Catholics - who had started appearing a generation earlier - had…Read more Lowell’s Franco American School and its Connection to my Family History
The Valentine's Day Storm of 1940 crossed Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts within just a few days in February 1940. Locals said it was the biggest storm to hit the region since the New England Hurricane of 1938, some 15 months before. The first flurries started on the morning of Valentine's Day, before progressing into…Read more The Valentine’s Day Storm of 1940.
In a world before text messages, the internet, televisions, radios, and even telephones, fire emergencies were signaled with fire signal boxes. Not everyone could signal a fire. Fire signal boxes were locked, and alarms could only be activated by keyholders. Alarms were to be activated from the box located closest to the fire. Keyholders confirmed…Read more Fire Alarm Signal Boxes
Lamplighters turned night into day. A staple of the urban Victorian streetscape, the nostalgic image persists of a lone man, walking a darkening city street as dusk descended behind him, extending his staff to ignite each dark, cold lamp stem to life with a small flame. He would light the way along the lonely city…Read more Past Occupations: Lamplighters in Lowell, Massachusetts
Was Thanksgiving dinner different during Victorian times? If you were to sit down at a Thanksgiving table in 1883, you would see the familiar turkey and cranberry sauce and pies. But, what might surprise you would be, first, macaroni and cheese, and next, the meal that arrived when the Victorians called for macaroni and cheese. In…Read more Macaroni and Cheese? For Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Dinner in 1883