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.

Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Parade Began on Haverhill’s Merrimack Street in 1854

(A version of this article first appeared on these pages in 2018.)

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition—which has its roots in Haverhill—continues today even as the 94th edition is morphing into a virtual event. This year’s parade still features a mix of traditional giant character balloons, animated floats, street performances and marching ensembles, musical acts, whimsical clowns and the arrival of “the one-and-only Santa Claus.” For only the fourth time since the parade started, the production forgoes marching down the traditional two-and-a-half-mile route in Manhattan in order to avoid gathering large crowds. The event was canceled in 1942, 1943 and 1944 due to World War II. The iconic 1947 holiday film, “Miracle on 34th Street,” opens with the famous parade and Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle. The story takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in midtown New York City.

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.

Reflecting on My 40 Years in Radio and Local News

I am all the way back holding a spoon in this photograph taken for a readers’ cookbook shortly after I left WHAV and joined the Haverhill Gazette. Sports reporter Fred Burnham appears at left, front. Who else do you recognize? By Tim Coco
WHAV President and General Manager

Somehow, I never thought I’d be old enough to personally reflect on events that happened 40 years ago. In 1978, I joined the staff of WHAV the first time and, looking back, I marvel at just how much hasn’t changed as well as so much that has.