Frequent contributor Jim Peters sent the following essay:
I was just thinking of some of the things we should be remembering, and they may pass us in the wind. Remember the smell and taste of Educator Cookies? I have a friend who remembers going to the area where they dumped the cookies that did not come out well and ate them at the disposal site. Not the dump or anything like that, just the spot where the company got rid of its rejects.
Remember the wooden bridges that used to be in the city? Remember that massive fire at the one by the Gas Company on School Street that came dangerously close to igniting the gas storage unit next to the bridge? The firemen really earned their pay on that one. And speaking of earning their pay, what about the Lawrence Mills fire that destroyed most of the mill and imploded the two towers? The firemen earned their pay on that one, too.
There are so many things to remember in this city. The eighteen year old drinking law that failed so miserably. Failed as in it failed the people it was designed to recognize and reward. Eighteen was the drinking age then, but it quicly went out of favor as thousands of people became unable to handle drinking. I count myself as one of them and have not had a drink in eleven years.
Remember the Speare House? And Zenny Speronis setting up the sailing Regatta program on the river near the area that houses the University of Massachusett’s boats now? Remember Marty Meehan as a young man. Bright and inquisitive, I thought. And, do you remember his first Congressional campaign? My brother-in-law, Senator Paul Tsongas, did not give him much of a chance, but what a surprise when he pulled it off! We had a City Council at the time that included my father, Armand LeMay, Dick Howe, George Anthes, and a slew of others. How about Mr. Abrahamian’s poll?
Do you also remember the year that the editor of the Blog, Mr. Richard Howe, Jr. was elected to his position as Register of Deeds and he computerized the process. Now a couple of legislators want to take the position and incorporate it into Cambridge and its operation. Let’s hope we are not someday remembering the position of Northern Register of Deeds.
Do you remember, in 1984, I believe, when John and Annie Glenn came to Lowell to campaign for the presidency? I got to walk John Glenn the three blocks from the old Lowell Sun offices to the rally at the Suffolk Mills. I remember Paul popping out of the wheel outside the Mack Building and the wide smile that crossed John Glenn’s face when he saw him. Later, my wife, Vicki and I got to show the Wannalancit Building to Annie Glenn. She was one of the most enjoyable tourists I have had the opportunity to show Lowell to, and she was very funny.
I remember what John Glenn had to say about Paul. He said that people in the Senate were expected to call other Senators “Honorable” but that in his book, Paul was the one of a few that deserved that moniker. I thought that was neat. And I remember at that time, my friend and fellow campaigner, Pat McCarthy, waiting for the senator to get his signature in a copy of the book, “The Right Stuff.” Pat got his signature and proudly displayed it.
There were so many things to remember. The Indian (Native American) village on Regatta Field when the Carnival came to town. The first Asian boat races and the beautiful boats that raced so furiously. The beauty of the Merrimack River when I was sitting engrossed by the view from the deck of my pontoon boat. The first crew who got Niki Tsongas elected in her first bid for Congress. Of course, Niki had a great deal to do with getting elected herself. But Roger Lau, Anthony, Chris, Ben, and the many others who came out to help.
I remember also some of the negative things. But, I do not remember many. On the good side, I do remember the peaceful reading of the Sunday newspapers at Paul’s house in the alcove that looked out onto the front yard. I remember the many times I have been sick, and the excellent hospitals we had, Lowell General, St. John’s, and St. Joseph’s. St. Joseph’s had been the site of the Corporation Hospital that cared for people who worked in the mills and their families. That was on the site of St. Joseph’s.
I remember Garret Quinlan, Sr. telling me that the thing that crippled the downtown was the great trolley strike. And others telling me a little bit of history that I did not know. I intend to take all of those memories and put them in a book about Lowell. Someday, I will have the time to get to it.
Well, that’s about it. I have to go to a City Council meeting and watch Bud Caulfield, and Patrick Murphy, and Mayor Jim Milinazzo, my first friend when I moved to Lowell at the age of 16. I hope you have excellent memories.