hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


January 24, 2013

Library Friends count calendar decades

I know a good calendar when I see one, much the same way I do an organization or institution in my city.

Around the holidays, I get my annual call from Suzanne Davis at the Friends Shop of the Haverhill Public Library. Like a robin heralding spring, she chirps her song: “The calendars are in. We’ll have one set aside for you.”

This ritual has been going on for 26 years, ever since the first calendar made its debut as a brainchild of library special collections curator Gregory Laing, who saw something intimate in history.

Greg was the best contact any newspaper reporter could have. Anything you wanted to know about the city’s past would be his pleasure. If he didn’t have the information on the tip of his tongue, he’d find it in a flash.

I can hear him now.

“Greg, when did the Massachusetts Editors & Publishers Association have that reunion on the shores of Kenoza Lake?”

“Give me a second. Why yes. That would be 1870 — right on your birthday.”

“What? Sept. 30? How did you know that?”

“You told me once. It stuck.”

Yes, Greg was Haverhill’s encyclopedia of knowledge and many of his pearly gems found their way to these library calendars over time. Credit the Friends with keeping the relay of time running. With 15,000 images to choose from in the Special Collections Room, I would say there is no end to this marathon.

It’s like having your own special collections library in the comfort of your home, had you collected the calendars all as keepsakes. I have. I glance at them from time to time and see the visages of our tremendous city.

What I wouldn’t give to go back a hundred years and stroll our downtown, admiring those halcyon days of yesteryear. Or tour the insides of our old high school or see Bradford College in its heyday. Haverhill was introduced to me through marriage, so I didn’t know and appreciate its fine points as I was growing up. Still, it has always held its charm and antiquity for me. Sad to say, I find a lot of that personality missing now.

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