The Controversial First Days of Roller Skating Rinks, Lowell – 1885

In the years following the US Civil War, roller skating really came into its own.  As the design of the roller skate improved over the second half of the 19th century, so did its popularity.  Many became fans of the new hobby.  Many others viewed it as immoral and a threat to the order of…Read more The Controversial First Days of Roller Skating Rinks, Lowell – 1885

New England’s Yellow Day of 1881: A Saffron Curtain Descends

In summer's waning days in 1881, New Englanders read about hope for President Garfield's recovery from a gunshot wound suffered two months earlier, an imminent rising of the Apache Nation in the West, and a baseball game between the "Bostons" and the "Worcesters", where unfavorable weather "kept away all spectators" and worries that Pike, the center…Read more New England’s Yellow Day of 1881: A Saffron Curtain Descends

Past Occupations: Ice Cutters in Massachusetts

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

Macaroni and Cheese? For Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Dinner in 1883

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

The Men of the Boston, Lowell and Nashua Line – Train Life in the 1870s

My two-year-old son loves trains.  One of his first words was "train".  And, he likes to announce the arrival and departure of trains, with the word "train", repeatedly, while pointing. The fascination people have with trains can be traced back much further than today's living generations.  In fact, before planes and automobiles, trains, or iron…Read more The Men of the Boston, Lowell and Nashua Line – Train Life in the 1870s

Jailbreak at Rainsford Island – Boston Harbor: August 1899

A steady stream of ten boys, each jumping from the classroom windows of the Rainsford Island House of Reformation, sprinted for the shore under the cover of the night fog on August 19, 1899. They found their way through the brush by the light of the fire that raged through their prison behind them.  As…Read more Jailbreak at Rainsford Island – Boston Harbor: August 1899

Oh, The Many Queer Lights of Franklin Park! – The Advent of Bicycle Lights in Boston, 1899

Blue lights, green lights, and red lights rose out of the dusky fog.  Men emerged carrying bright Japanese lanterns; women held dim electric bulbs.  As summer waned in Boston during the last days of August in 1899, a new regulation came into effect.  Starting on the night of August 21, 1899, bicyclists in Boston were…Read more Oh, The Many Queer Lights of Franklin Park! – The Advent of Bicycle Lights in Boston, 1899