Acclaimed author Paul Theroux visited Lowell a few months ago on assignment from Barron’s online journal. The Medford native rode the train to Lowell, retracing his mother’s route to college in the late 1920s. She earned a teaching degree from Lowell Normal School. Theroux spent a day in Lowell, hosted by Deb Belanger of the Greater Merrimack Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau. The author of many notable travel books and other volumes was much impressed by the transformed textile-factory city. Read his descriptions and observations in a lengthy article released on May 18.
It’s a city of reversals and, for that reason, a remarkable place of proud and engaged citizens–and quintessentially American. That certainly was the message of the most recent movie to be made in Lowell, Mark Wahlberg’s The Fighter (2010), about a Lowell boxer, “Irish” Micky Ward, battling his way back from the brink. Lowell has known the heights of fortune and the depths of economic depression. The mills were still spinning–three shifts in the Boott Mill, 24 hours a day, in 1928—when my mother was taking the one-mile walk from the station to Lowell Normal School, now the vastly expanded UMass-Lowell. Many mills were even spinning when Kerouac was a boy, as he recalls inThe Town and the City and Maggie Cassidy. But soon some transitioned to patent medicine, or munitions, or printing. Kerouac’s father, Alcide, ran a print shop here.
Paul Theroux (web photo by Jason Grow courtesy of online.barrons.com)