Lowell Week in Review: December 23, 2018

Lowell City Hall. Photo by Tony Sampas

“A Cataclysm for our District”

Towards the end of Wednesday night’s review of the fiscal audit of the Lowell School Department, Connie Martin, the longest-serving current member of the Lowell School Committee said about the Lowell School Department’s fiscal mess, “This has been a cataclysm for our district.”

Cataclysm is a good word for it. It seems there are several words beginning with the letter C that describe the situation: cataclysm, catastrophe, chaos, collapse, cluster- . . .

But you know what?  It’s two days before Christmas so why emphasize the negative with the holiday upon us? There will be plenty of time in January to dig into the causes of this predicament, so we’ll set school finances aside for a couple of weeks.

Newspaper cartoon, Dec 24, 1918

Christmas 1918

Regular readers of this blog may have been following our Lowell in World War I series which, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the end of that war, has for the past two years given a weekly recap of the local newspaper headlines. This year’s election caused the publication schedule to get out of sync with the calendar, but I’ve resumed posting and will reach Armistice Day next week. For now, if you’d like to scan through the accumulated posts, just scroll to the bottom of the left column of this site and choose WWI Lowell for a category and be transported back to 1918.

Speaking of 1918, all of this information about life in Lowell one hundred years ago got me thinking of what Christmas must have been like that year. Here are some of the stories from the December 24, 1918 Lowell Sun:

  • More Yankee Troops Home; Liner France arrives in New York with 3865 American officers and men.
  • Wilson goes to visit troops; President leaves Paris tonight for American Army Headquarters at Chaumont; To eat from mess kit with soldiers about him on Christmas day.
  • Sgt Richard Corbett dies in France; son of Mr. and Mrs. William Corbett of 127 Stackpole street; cause of death was broncho-pheumonia.
  • Loses three fingers; Boy in Steadman street shot by stray bullet from hunter’s gun
  • Skeleton unearthed in Centralville.

For those looking to have Christmas dinner outside the home, front page advertisements invited readers to Christmas dinner at the Richardson Hotel, the Harrisonia Hotel, the Waverly Hotel, Yun-Ho Restaurant, or Chin Lee Restaurant. If you were looking for something to bring home, Johnston’s Bakery offered English Plum Pudding, Scotch Short Bread, Old Fashioned Raisin Bread, Home Made Mince Pie, Cranberry Pie, and Whipped Cream Goods.

Acre World War I monument

Acre WWI Statue to Stay in Place

While we’re on World War I, you may have heard that over the past year representatives of the Lowell Firefighters Club have circulated a proposal to move the Acre World War I statue from its current location adjacent to their Fletcher Street Club to another spot on the North Common. In its place, the Firefighters Club proposed erecting a 9/11 memorial.

Not everyone was in favor of moving the World War I statue. As I wrote last month (“Opposition grows to moving WWI statue”), a descendent of one of the men memorialized by the statue wrote a letter to the editor of the Lowell Sun opposing the move and on November 13, 2018, the Lowell Historical Society voted to oppose the move as well.

However, just this Friday, the Lowell Sun’s Rick Sobey tweeted that because of the opposition that has arisen, the Firefighters Club will abandon their plans to move the World War I statue and will instead seek another site in the city for the 9/11 memorial.

Local History Events

Sticking with local history, there are some significant events this winter you should consider adding to your calendar. The biggest will take place on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at 10am at Lowell Memorial Auditorium. That’s when representatives of the United States Mint will unveil the new Lowell National Historical Park quarter. The event is free and open to the public (although if you want some Lowell Quarters that day, you’ll have to exchange other US currency for them).

Of course, that assumes the federal government shutdown will have ended by then. Until it does, Lowell National Historical Park will remain closed. I assume the shutdown will be resolved by early February, but who knows?

Another event that may face more of a threat from the shutdown happens on Sunday, January 13, 2018 at 2pm at Boott Cotton Mills Museum events center. It’s one on the Lowell Talks series of local history lecture/discussions. The topic is LGBTQ History and it’s presented by Lowell National Historical Park in partnership with History UnErased.

Lowell Walks 2018

Lowell Walks 2018

Lowell Walks, a series of free summertime guided walks in downtown Lowell, began back in 2015. Since then, thousands of people have joined us. While Lowell Walks was held in 2018, it received less attention on this site than it had in prior years because I was in the midst of my (successful) campaign to be re-elected Register of Deeds.

But with the election campaign over, planning for Lowell Walks 2019 has already begun. Before getting to that, however, let’s take a look at the walks that were held in 2018:

  • June 23, 2018 – City Hall & Pollard Memorial Library with Sean Thibodeau (109 people)
  • June 30, 2018 – Infamous Lowell Crimes with Kerry Regan Jenness & Wayne Jenness (224 people)
  • July 14, 2018 – Downtown Architecture with Steve Stowell (Lowell Historic Board)(120 people)
  • July 21, 2018 – Moody Street with Dick Howe & Coalition for a Better Acre (85 people)
  • Aug 11, 2018 – Downtown Galleries & Cultural Places with Liz Stewart (COOL)(45 people)
  • Aug 25, 2018 – Hamilton Canal District Update with Claire Ricker (Lowell DPD)(101 people)
  • Sept 1, 2018 – Lowell in World War One with Dick Howe (108 people)

In addition to these seven walks, I also led a special springtime walk on City Hall Monuments as part of Lowell ArtsWeek. The monuments walk was done on Saturday, April 28 (70 people) and was repeated on Sunday, April 29 (20 people).

In May, I led Lowell Cemetery walks on Friday, May 11 (105 people) and on Saturday, May 12 (99 people).

As for 2019, there will be a number of downtown Saturday morning walks as well as Lowell Cemetery walks, but I also hope to go on the road and visit some of Lowell’s neighborhoods. Possibilities include Middlesex Village, Back Central Street, Centralville, and the UMass Lowell campuses.

To get updates on Lowell Walks 2019, please subscribe to the Lowell Walks newsletter by entering your email address in the box in the upper right portion of this website.

Merry Christmas from Lowell