By Mike LaBella
---- — Can you name the oldest street in Haverhill?
Do you know what Haverhill-born surgeon went on to open a world famous health clinic?
Local history buffs will tell you the oldest street in the city is Mill Street and that Dr. Frank Lahey founded the Lahey Clinic.
Those and other tidbits of the city’s history were featured in a trivia book produced in 1988 by a Haverhill school teacher. Now, that book, which is still available at the public library’s Friends Shop, has been reorganized and revised with help from students at Haverhill High School. They hope to sell it to raise money for clubs and for booster organizations, and also make it available to nonprofit groups so they can raise money as well.
The new Haverhill Trivia Book is also filled with fun facts about the city, ranging from historic properties to colorful characters. In addition to trivia questions and answers ranging from the city’s form of government to its geography to education and sports, there are new maps, such as one showing the city’s original boundaries, and new activity sheets for learning about places like Winnekenni Castle and the old Boston & Maine Railway.
Ask a kid if they know what a “wainwright” is and you might get a quizzical look. Under “Colonial Careers From the Past,” you’ll find the answer is a “wagon repairman and wagon builder,” a trade that’s far from cutting edge these days.
There’s even a scavenger hunt for those who are fascinated by the Team Haverhill volunteer organization’s giant Essex Street Gateway Mural, which features images of well-known people from the city’s past and present.
And if you don’t happen to have a copy of the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame booklet, all of the prominent characters from Haverhill’s past that are featured in that booklet have been included in the updated Haverhill Trivia Book.
Haverhill High history teacher Phil Brown is always spreading the gospel of how interesting Haverhill history is. This school year he challenged his students to not only learn as much as they could about the city’s past and present, but help update the trivia book that was created in 1988 by Patricia Garwich, who then taught sixth grade at Consentino Middle School and is retired.
Brown graded his students on their participation in the project. Kathleen O’Neil, a junior, helped with typing, photography layout and formatting. Senior Rochelle Rothermel researched statistics and demographics, while senior Stephen Alongi helped with research and organizing. Rothermel and her classmate Josseline Medrano researched demographics for the book.
”My family moved from Malden to Haverhill last year and I really didn’t know much about the city’s demographics, such as how many churches there are in the city or the city’s population, which is 62,373 per the 2010 census,” Rothermel said. “It was a fun project and I learned a lot about the city. I never knew a lot of celebrities were from Haverhill, like Tom Bergeron.”
Bergeron, a Haverhill High graduate, an Emmy award-winning TV show personality who hosts “Dancing with the Stars.’’
Rothermel said she’s been reading the trivia book to learn about the city. She recommends others read it too.
“It’s an interesting book and I think people will want to buy it,” she said.
Senior Selena Rosario helped organize and type the book’s questions and answers. She said she enjoyed looking through the original trivia book and the Internet to researching information for the revised book.
“I learned a lot about Haverhill,” Rosario said. “Haverhill has a lot of interesting and famous people like (major league baseball player) Carlos Pena, who is on the big mural on Essex Street, as well as other famous people including opera singers and radio announcers.”
Brown said that with Garwich’s permission, his class revised the trivia book and incorporated new features, including the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame, as well as details about the Essex Street Gateway Mural, including a key that explains each facet of the mural.
“The project was my idea for my History of Haverhill course,” Brown said. “The old trivia book was very interesting and helpful to me, but it was way out of date. Surprisingly, it sold very well at the library.”
Local trivia buffs probably can answer many of the trivia questions in the book, such as what the letters GAR stand for in GAR Park, which is Grand Army of the Republic. But do you know what newspaper was the first in the world to receive news by telephone? It happened to be The Haverhill Gazette.
“There is a need, in my opinion, for children to learn the history, geography and contributions of the citizens of the city in which they live,” Garwich wrote in the preface of her original book, titled “Haverhill Trivia,” and which Brown included in the updated version.
The new book includes new categories, including sports, and offers questions and answers such as “Which former Haverhill teacher held the most track, field and running championships in New England at the time of his death in 1987?’’ The answer is Anthony Sapienza. And do you know which Haverhill native was the first female to be admitted into Little League baseball? The answer is Sharon Poole in 1972.
Brown said the new trivia book will soon be available for purchase at the public library’s Friends Shop, the Book Cellar in the basement of City Hall, the Hillies student store at the high school, as well as the Buttonwoods Museum and Whittier’s Birthplace. He said the old trivia book used to sell at the library’s Friends Shop for $15 but was priced at $5 because it is so old.
”It was only available at library,” Brown said about the original trivia book. “It makes a great gift for Haverhill history fans. I bought it as a Christmas present about 15 years ago and wound up getting a copy for myself.”
Brown paid to have 400 copies of the book printed, but hopes to obtain a grant to print more copies and make them available to nonprofit groups in the city to sell as a fundraiser. He said Haverhill High’s booster groups and student clubs will also sell the trivia books to raise money for activities. The new books are priced at $10 each.
“I am setting up a website and will have a Twitter account for a daily trivia question,” said Brown, who serves as Haverhill High’s representative to the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame Committee.
“Although the audience for this book might be mostly townies, I think new people will be interested as well,” Brown said. “I hope to get people involved in creating a Haverhill sports trivia book in the future.”