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
A roll of quarters went a long way at Fun Time Amusements at the Billerica Mall. And the pet store in the mall often offered a look at Billerica's latest group of adoptable kittens or puppies. Today, the mall still stands just off Boston Road, on the southern approach to town. Fun Time is gone.…Read more The Opening of the Billerica Mall, 1975
The first alarm sounded just after midnight on April 28, 1924. Lowell's firemen arrived soon after to find tendrils of smoke wafting from the Associate Building's fourth floor windows. Inside, the Portuguese Club was ablaze. By the time firemen gained access to the downtown Lowell landmark, they found the fire well underway inside and quickly…Read more Fires of Lowell, Massachusetts – Associate Building, 1924