hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


June 6, 2013

Visiting 1970s Haverhill

Film features 1975 political feud, dying shoe industry


The film opens with a slow panning of the Merrimack River, showing the muddy banks and debris that littered the water’s edge. Behind the river rises the concrete river wall of downtown and the backs of vacant factories with broken windows and rusted fire escapes.

The film features images from the two mayoral candidates’ campaigns — Burton’s newspaper ad with the slogan “It’s time for a change’’ and a sketch of a crying baby in diapers; Katsaros carrying on the political tradition of giving pens to voters outside a supermarket; Burton visiting an elderly housing complex, where he told residents the city’s finances had gotten so poor under Katsaros that Haverhill might have to close the complex.

There are campaign rallies featuring music from bands and cheering supporters holding signs.

And looming in the background, repeatedly, is the image of a city mired in a an economic breakdown.

When told the documentary will air next month, Katsaros’ widow, Effie Katsaros, remembered their life together before he entered politics.

Katsaros worked as a salesman for a Lawrence paper company after returning from the Army in the late 1940s. He married Effie and they built their house at 1 Richmond St.

“I remember putting the shingles on the roof one afternoon,” Effie Katsaros said. “We built the house a little at a time. We started it in 1950 before we got married, and it was done by the time we were married in 1951.’’

With his wife, they opened and ran a downtown lounge and rented its large back room called The Crystal Room. They ran that part of the building as a function hall on Merrimack Street across the street from The Haverhill Gazette newspaper office.

“George liked music and he was a band leader,” his wife said, explaining he started his own band and played in clubs alongside other big bands.

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