When Charles Dickens was twelve, his feckless father was imprisoned for three months in Marshalsea Prison in London for debt. The boy had to leave school and work in a boot blackening factory to support the family, a humiliation he never forgot. Nevertheless, Dickens rose to fame quickly as a young novelist becoming “an international celebrity, famous for humor, satire, and keen observation of character and society.”
The Scotch celebrate Hogmanay on January 1 with family celebrations, street festivals, fireworks and customs going back hundreds of years. Believed to originate with Viking rituals, the traditions inspire hope for health, prosperity, and new beginnings in the New Year.
Italians celebrate Christmas for a full month from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 through the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. Although some regional differences exist, the month basically is devoted to religious observances and spending time with family and friends.
By Helen Breen Daniel Low & Co. started on the bottom floor of the First Church, Unitarian, 231 Essex Street at the corner of Washington Street in Salem. The jewelry company purchased the church in 1923, elegantly refitting the structure as an appropriate setting for its luxurious merchandise. […]
Featured image: Woodcut image of the 1834 burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Catholics and fair minded Bostonians were dismayed by the tragedy. by Helen Breen This week marks the 183th anniversary of the burning and ransacking of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts on August 11, […]
Homecoming: JFK in Ireland, June 1963 by Helen Breen DUBLIN Two years ago while in Dublin, I took a tour of Leinster House, a magnificent ducal residence now the seat of the Irish Parliament. At the end of our visit we were guided up an impressive marble staircase. […]
Featured image: George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, 1858-1860. by Helen Breen General George Washington welcomed back to Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War (mountvernon.org) The dramatic painting of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” launching a surprise attack on the […]
by Helen Breen Among America’s most beloved 19th century renderings of Thanksgiving Day are Currier & Ives lithographs, Grandma Moses’s paintings, and Lydia Marie Child’s famous poem/song “Over the River and Through the Wood.” CURRIER & IVES Currier & Ives was a tremendously successful printmaking firm, based in […]
by Helen Breen In perusing the early copies of the Lynnfield Historical Society’s bulletins, the reflections of one writer stand out for his graceful style, sense of humor, and genuine affection for the town “in the old days.” I said to myself, “I have to check this guy […]
*From it’s earliest days, the people of Ipswich made frequent contributions to Harvard College. William Hubbard of Ipswich, the son of the Rev.William Hubbard, in his twenty-first year, ‘was one of that remarkable group of nine young men whom Harvard College sent forth in 1642, as the first specimens of […]
by Helen Breen Some things never change. In the midst of the inflammatory rhetoric of the 2016 American Presidential campaign, let us pause and reflect on the simpler, but no less acrimonious, political days of yore. To wit – the Massachusetts US Senate race of 1936. In the […]
by Helen Breen Question: What Do Wakefield and Peabody Have In Common? Answer: Both renamed their Essex County towns in the mid 19th century to honor their “favorite sons” and benefactors – Cyrus Wakefield (1811-1873) and George Peabody (1795-1869). The 19th century “merchant princes” of Boston were ambitious, […]
The Glen Magna Estate is now managed as a non-profit by the Danvers Historical Society. Photo courtesy North of Boston magazine Article by Helen Breen Before the advent of the modern transportation, affluent city dwellers often built their summer residences within a few miles of home. Such was […]