WHAV Offers Happy 200th Birthday Wishes to Haverhill Gazette; Institutions Share History

Editor’s Note: WHAV couldn’t let the year end without acknowledging the Haverhill Gazette’s milestone 200th birthday that took place this year. WHAV and The Gazette have a shared heritage in John Taylor “Jack” Russ. Russ, as publisher of the Haverhill Gazette, is the man most responsible for bringing Haverhill its first radio station, WHAV, in 1947. The Haverhill Gazette turned 200 years old in 2021 without any fanfare, but it deserves this birthday surprise, especially since it is one of the nation’s oldest, surviving newspapers. It is better off than the thousands of newspapers that have succumbed in recent years, but still a shadow of its former self—the victim, first of consolidation that reduced it from a robust daily to a weekly, and then of the loss of its advertising base to electronic media.

The Friendship of Helen Keller and John Greenleaf Whittier

Editor’s Note: Haverhill native Dr. Raymond F. Comeau commemorates the 129th anniversary of the passing of one of Haverhill’s favorite sons, John Greenleaf Whittier, with an essay on the poet’s friendship with Helen Keller. Now of Belmont, Comeau is a retired dean and current lecturer at Harvard University Extension School. He is also a trustee, emeritus, of the John Greenleaf Whittier Birthplace in Haverhill. It was a sporadic relationship that manifested itself in only four letters and a single visit, and it lasted fewer than three years, but we can be sure that both Helen Keller (1880-1968) and John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) felt that knowing each other was a gift. As we will see, Keller was only nine when they met.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s Last Poem

Hear Whittier’s Last Poem read aloud

There is something poignant about “last” things. The word last often possesses the sad, sometimes heroic, connotation of finality, including death. Think of a loved one’s last words, or the last time you saw a good friend, or a soldier’s last stand. Whittier’s last poem holds this poignancy. It is also, as I will show later, a key to understanding the poet’s deepest feelings and thoughts upon his approaching death, and a testament of his writing genius.

The Mystery of a Whittier Christmas Quote

Editor’s Note: Thursday, Dec 17, was Haverhill-born poet John Greenleaf Whittier’s 213th birthday. Many Americans remember, especially at Christmas, on greeting cards or in other publications, the following lines attributed to John Greenleaf Whittier:

For somehow, not only for Christmas, but all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you;
And the more you spend in blessing the poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart’s possessing, returns to make you glad. But do they belong to Whittier? On Dec. 24, 2015, in “Quote Investigator,” an online source[1], an anonymous contributor traces the genesis of these lines.

Cellar Walls Collapse, Wells Go Dry as Nature’s Might Rocked Valley Almost 300 Years Ago Today

Almost 300 years ago today—give or take a few days for calendar adjustments over the centuries—Haverhill suffered one of its most calamitous natural spectacles. By most accounts, the summer of 1727 had been unpleasant in the Merrimack Valley. It had been excessively hot, punctuated by heavy rainstorms with strong winds, frequently accompanied by thunder and lightning. As summer turned to autumn, it was assumed things would cool down to more bearable levels. Instead, on Sept.

Christmas Explosions 74 Years Ago Destroy Mr. Tilton’s Tower, Give Birth to WHAV

(An earlier version of this story appeared in 2017.)

J.R. Poppele, chief engineer of WOR, New York, was hired by Haverhill Gazette owner John T. “Jack” Russ to conduct the original survey of transmitter sites for Russ’s proposed local FM radio station, later named WHAV. Poppele was an early FM expert, working with inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong to place WX2OR on the air in New York during early 1940 and its successor W71NY the following year. That station would eventually become WOR-FM. Poppele’s engineering studies indicated the best spot to build a radio tower in Haverhill would be atop 276-foot high Silver Hill, putting the tower close to the center of the city. Unfortunately, Silver Hill was already occupied by a beloved, but crumbling landmark – Tilton Tower.

Efforts Begin to Chip Away at Haverhill’s 51-Year-Old Form of Government

If a recent statement by Haverhill’s mayor and the presence of a City Council agenda item this week are any indications, the city’s 51-year-old form of government could be upended in the future. The City of Lowell, settling a federal court case over the voting rights of minorities, agreed recently to end the practice of electing all of its city councilors and school committee members at large. Instead, under the terms of a consent decree, Lowell will elect all or a majority of elected seats by individual districts prior to the elections of 2021.” At his campaign kickoff, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said 20% of the city’s population is Latino and deserves representation. “Our City Council and our School Committee no longer represent all of our city and it’s time for ward councilors and I am proud to endorse that here tonight. It’s time to change our charter so that we have people elected in every ward and in every section of our city,” Fiorentini told supporters.

While Not Filmed Here, Haverhill Plays Prominently in AMC’s ‘NOS4A2’

With the recent excitement about the Hulu TV series “Castle Rock” filming in Haverhill, it is easy to forget Haverhill is already appearing on television in the AMC series “NOS4A2.”

In the original Joe Hill novel NOS4A2 (2013), Victoria McQueen discovers she has the gift of “finding” things presumed lost by crossing the condemned old covered bridge over the Merrimack River. As the novel starts, Vic McQueen leaves the family house while her parents are fighting about a lost bracelet. She crosses the derelict Shorter Way Bridge and suddenly finds herself in Hampton Beach. Somehow, she has been transported 15 miles beyond the bridge to the sub shop where the bracelet was lost. Vic will discover this gift may also be a curse.