February 12th, 2012
As I drove in Westford Street from Drum Hill earlier today, an orange city of Lowell dump truck rumbled past me. In its wake the street seemed to be strewn with a handful of grayish chunks of snow. Momentarily baffled, I noticed a second truck approaching and saw its bed piled high with slushy snow. I was viewing the 2012 Human Dog Sled Track on the way to its final resting place after a successful Winterfest. I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon on Arcand Drive and snapped a few pictures that I’ll share here:
Michael Conway promoting the Lowell Rotary’s “Hot Roasted Marshmallows” booth, one of the most popular stops for kids given the number of sticky faces I observed.
The Lowell Rotary Club’s “Hot Roasted Marshmallows” booth, with Chelmsford Selectman Jon Kurland overseeing the fire. read more »
February 12th, 2012
Over on the “Forgotten New England” blog there’s another installment in the Fires of Lowell, Massachusetts series. This story of the Sacred Heart School fire in 1967 tears at my memory, my heartstrings and the fabric of my family history. My grandfather – Patrick J. Kirwin was a member of the first class to graduate from the Sacred Heart School. His brother Fr. William J. Kirwin, OMI was pastor in the 1930s - the park on Lawrence Street was dedicated to his memory. My father Jim Kirwin and his eight siblings – Fr. Bill, Margaret, Ellen, Jack, Mary, Agnes, Jane and Henry – and assorted cousins attended. I spent a few years there myself as did my brothers Jimmy and Billy. In fact, my husband Bill Sweeney and I first met in Sister Rita’s kindergarten oh so many years ago. The Sacred Heart alums are all family - by blood or by shared experience and love for the parish and the school. The church is closed and the school buildings gone or shuttered but the connection remains alive. The Oblates are remembered – the Sisters of St. Mary de Namur are too.
I remember the shock and sadness on my father’s face as he stood looking at the fire-ravaged remains of the Sacred Heart School building back in the Spring of 1967. His was just one of many sad hearts that day. Here is the opening exerpt from the Forgotten New England blog post – follow the link to read the whole article:
Fire of Lowell, Massachusetts – Sacred Heart School, 1967
On a cool, cloudy Saturday afternoon in early May 1967, two men simultaneously spotted the billowing smoke escaping from the first-story windows of Sacred Heart School’s “new building” on its Moore Street campus in Lowell, Massachusetts. John J. McWilliams, an off-duty police officer, ran and activated the fire alarm at a nearby fire-box. John Sickles, a Tewksbury resident who happened to be driving past the scene, drove to the nearby Lawrence Street firehouse and notified the firefighters inside.
Marked with a black arrow above, Sacred Heart School’s “new” building once fronted Lowell’s Moore Street.
At 58 years old, the “new building” was the newer of Sacred Heart School’s two school buildings on the corner of Moore and Andrews Streets in the city’s South Lowell neighborhood. Its cornerstone had been laid on October 9, 1909 by Lowell native and then-Archbishop William H. O’Connell, who later became a Cardinal. By 1967, the school, which served the children of parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish located across Moore Street, had grown to include the “old” and “new” buildings that served some 600 students, from grades 1-8. The building now burning housed the younger children, through Grade 4. The older children attended classes in the “old building”, which standing just 25 feet away, was threatened by the raging fire too.
Read more here.
February 12th, 2012
This past Friday, the Pollard Memorial Library hosted an open house to show of some new Low-Vision Stations that have been acquired for folks with limited vision. Besides the equipment on display inside, the New England Eye Institute’s Mobile Clinic was parked in front of the library where comprehensive eye exams were provided all day long. Inside the library, there was an impressive display of equipment that showed how various types of technology are being used to assist people with low vision in their everyday lives. I’m sure each item had a technical name, but I’ll do my best to describe them in non-technical terms. First, there was a standard computer terminal that had a monitor that could easily enlarge any portion of it AND had an automated reading capability, sort of a reverse “voice recognition software.” Here, the application would read every word appearing on the screen in a completely comprehensible way, allowing a person to acquire the information on the screen without having the ability to read it. Other equipment resembled hi-tech goose-neck lamps which, instead of casting light, snapped a picture of whatever text was placed underneath it and either displayed a greatly enlarged version of that text on a screen or spoke the text in the same manner as the other machine. Then there were pocket-sized versions of this device that would permit someone with low-vision to read labels on packages in the store, the thermostat at home, and any number of other words that we all take for granted in our everyday lives.
This new equipment was funded by the Pollard Library Foundation, the Lowell Lions’ Club and other individual donors. Also on-scene throughout the open house was Stuart Flom of AdaptiVision, Inc., the consultant retained by the library to assist in the acquisition of all of these devices. Mr. Flom’s website has a host of information about low-vision devices and related things.
February 12th, 2012
This 1870′s ad for the Lowell Gas Light Company is a pretty good example of how the meaning of words may change over time. In this case, the product advertized was a by-product of the coal gasification process that yielded the illuminating gas that was used to light the city’s streets, mills and houses for more than a half century. Prodigious amounts of coal were heated in a closed container, the chemical structure changed, releasing flammable gas that was stored and then funneled through underground mains throughout the city. Left behind was a very pure, clean burning solid called “coke” that was used for heating and cooking.
February 12th, 2012
Cold morning. Glove-cold. Bright clear sky. The blue-disc sun is warming if you step into its 98-million-mile-away rays, exactly, but otherwise the air is frigid. This is weather for staying in. I didn’t see any random walkers in the South Common Historic District. One man in a jacket over hooded sweatshirt bent forward a bit as he carried two large handled bags down Highland Street.
On Gorham Street, next to the former rectory of the Church of St Peter, there’s a remnant of the church with historical references in stone. Sometimes in the early morning or on weekends I walk into the parking lot where the church once stood and try to imagine the huge structure that once enclosed that volume of space, which on the ground doesn’t feel as large as it was when it was contained within granite walls under a soaring ceiling and retained much of its openness inside. Without the enclosure, the parcel of land becomes another related place in the area of streets and sidewalks, building frontage and landscaped plots. It’s the church of open air now.
That will change when apartments are built on the site. A different purpose will be delivered to the land. New residents will join the neighborhood. The space will be taken up by smaller structures, stacked for efficiency, one atop another. The character of the piece of land will change, but the memory of past use will remain. With digital technology, some day soon it will be easy to pick a location and see the various iterations of activity that occupied it. With a laptop or hand device at home or on site with a smart phone you will be able to click through something like the visual biography of an address to see what and who was there as far back as the records go. You’ll be able to reflect on who else felt a cold February morning like this one in this place, 50 or 150 or 500 or 5,000 years ago—who else passed through this small piece of the Earth with a mind in motion.
February 12th, 2012
I’m a fan of the entertainment industry award shows on TV. Tonight, we get to see the Grammy Awards. The production was revamped last year to include more music than the shows used to offer. If you are not someone who keeps up with the latest in Music, like me, this is an opportunity to catch up in a couple of hours. I looked at the list of nominees in all the categories. Of the hundreds of recordings and artists nominated, from rock and classical to country, rap, and jazz, I bought one of the new recordings (“Blessed” by Lucinda Williams) and received another as a gift (“Darkness on the Edge of Town” by Springsteen, the boxed set). I felt pretty out of it scanning the names even though I recognized a lot of the artists.
Here’s the list of nominees for tonight. Not all of these awards will be presented during the show, I’m sure. Below is a partial list of performers:
Current GRAMMY® nominee Chris Brown; nominees Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood, who will perform together; and 14-time GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys and nine-time GRAMMY winner Bonnie Raitt, who will remember Etta James, have been added to the stellar lineup for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards® (www.grammy.com). … Previously announced performers for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards include Adele (in her first live performance since undergoing vocal cord surgery last fall); Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson; Glen Campbell with The Band Perry and Blake Shelton; Coldplay and Rihanna; Foo Fighters; Bruno Mars; Paul McCartney; Nicki Minaj; Katy Perry; Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band; and Taylor Swift. Aldean, The Band Perry, Minaj, and Shelton will perform on the GRAMMY telecast for the first time. Previously announced presenters are Dierks Bentley, Jack Black, Drake, Fergie, Miranda Lambert, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, and Ringo Starr.