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Fall River: You Can’t Go Home Again

06 Sep

P9290055Fall River’s Braga Bridge (soon to be painted dark blue)

Fall River is a very different city today than when I first visited there in 1977.  It’s different than it was in the 1980’s and even from the 1990’s.  And to a native Fall Riverite, it is especially different from just 18 years ago.

P9300048Haunted attraction in old mill building on Anawan Street.

A person named “Kerri” wrote what I think is a very heartfelt, moving and accurate blog at  ManufacturerThis.org just a couple days ago about Fall River’s decline in the past 18 years when she moved away.   It bears reading.  Here’s an extract:

“It was also a boomtown for iron works, brick makers, and fishermen who supported the manufacturing infrastructure.   But over the last 18 years, Fall River has lost 15,000 manufacturing jobs– in a city of 91,000.   Its unemployment rate is the worst in the state at 14.1%, with New Bedford, MA – a town next door with an economy tied to Fall River’s – second at 14%.”

My only disappointment in reading what she wrote is that neither she nor members of her family got out of their car and walked around.  They might have been even more disappointed if they had.   On the other hand, they might have enjoyed the beautiful vistas from Martha Street and other Hill-crest viewpoints.  They missed walking Main Street, north and south, and observing the mom and pop businesses that have endured for more than 30 years, and the new ones occupying the same floor space of those from a hundred years ago.

By contract, just last month I visited the city where I worked for over 20 years and was bowled over by it’s development.  Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach, California is a thriving, dynamic “happening” place at night with theatres, restaurants, galleries, shops, bistros – people of all ages and origins walking and enjoying themselves.  A highly visible but overtly friendly police presence gives one a sense of safety.  I could not believe it was the town I knew.  Twenty years ago you dared not walk the downtown streets after dark.  The thought occurred to me that this dynamic change could have happened in downtown Fall River.  They could have developed Main Street this way.  But, they didn’t.

I was able to “go home again”, but Kerri wasn’t.  Sad, very sad.

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2 Comments

Posted by on September 6, 2009 in Fall River History, Mills and Factories

 

2 responses to “Fall River: You Can’t Go Home Again

  1. Emily

    September 21, 2009 at 5:21 PM

    god
    i live in fall river
    have my whole life and i was born there
    as much as i love the city, even i have to admit that half the city are gangbangers and right now theres a huge gang war goin on between the bloods and the crips
    i wont walk around at night but i still love my home
    i love the portuguesse people and there festivals and i still love the hills, mills, and churches
    fall river is still home to so many people
    and it always will be

     
  2. RONALD R SOULIERE

    January 6, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    I WAS BORN IN FALL RIVER WAY BACK IN JAN 39..ATTENDED ST ANN’S SCHOOL AND PREVOST HIGH,, WORKED AT SHORES SUPER MARKET IN SOMERSET LATER.. LEFT HOME IN 56 ,TO ATTEND AIR FORCE TRAINING… SPENT THE NXT 21 YRS TRAVELLING THE WORLD ON ASSIGNEMNTS INCLUDING ASSIGNMENTS TO SOUTH EASY ASIA (VIETNAM) SURVIVED AND SPENT LAST 3 PLUS YEARS IN ENGLAND,,, RETIRED AND RETURNED TO LINCOLN NEBRASKA (WIFES HOME TOWN) HAVE MADE TRIPS BACK TO THE HOME TURF EVERY FEW YEARS TO RECALL CHILDHOOD DAYS AND F RIENDS TI CHANGES BUT IS STILL A VIABLE TOWN WITH FRIENDLY FOLKS … NOTHING STAYS THE SAME FOR SURE…. AS KIDS WE USED TO GO SWIMMING OFF THE WHARF AT THE COAL YARD AT THE BOTTOM OF MIDDLE STREET OVER THE TRACKS… NOW A SHIP BUILDING ENTERPRISE POSTED WITH A MEAN CARETAKER AND EQUALLY MEAN GUARD DOGS…. STAYED IN THE THE CAR FOR SAFETY…. LAST SWIMMING DATE THERE WAS MARCH 56 AS KIDS WE DID NOT EQUATE THE LARGE BLOCKS OF ICE IN RIVER TO THE WATER BEING COLD…THE SHELTER OF THE PIER GAVE US THE IMPRESSION IT WAS WARM THE REALIZATION OF WATER TEMP OCCURED THE INSTANT ALL 5 OF US HIT THE WATER… NONE OF US CAN TELL YOU TODAY IF WE SWAM UP THE LADDER OR CLIMBED UP SAME BUT JUST HAD TO GET OUT OF THE WATER…. WE ENDED UP STRIPPING DOWN AND PRESSING OURSELFS TO THE CONCRETE PIER FOR WARMTH AND DRY OUR CLOTHING SOMEWHAT… WE LIVED IN THE LIBERTY /BAY /SPRAGUE MIDDLE STREET ENVIRONMENT… TRIPS TO THE KING PHILIP YACHT CLUB ENDED WHEN HURRICAN CAROL TOOK IT OUT TO THE BAY IN 52 AS I RECALL AS WE GUYS STOOD ON THE HILL SALUTING ITS DEPARTURE IN TYPICAL KID STYLE WHILE IN THE EYE OF THE STORM…

    YES GOOD MEMORIES,, PLAZA THEATRE FOR 14 CENTMOVIES ON SATURDAY MOARNING WITH ABOUT A MILLION OTHER KIDS… CHOW MEIN SANDWICHES WITH NEHI POP FOR SUSTINANCE,,, WHEN WE DINED OUT WITH THE REMAINS OF OUR SPENDING CASH ,,ORANGE NEHI’S ALL AROUND WAS THE WORD….. LEFT AT AGE 17 BUT STILL ENJOY THE RETURN VISITS WITH FAMILY STILL THERE…. BUT YOU MAY TOUCH THE OLD HOME GROUND BUT IN REALITY YOU CAN NEVER GO HOME AGAIN… NOW COMING UP ON AGE 72 ITS EVEN MORE APPARENT,,MOST OF THE FAMILY IS GONE BUT STILL TOGETHER IN THE CEMETARY….WE LEAVE OUR STONES ON THE MARKERS AS IF IT WERE SOME OLD TRADITION THAT ONLY THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY KNEW ABOUT… HAVE REACHED THE POING THE NOW THE LIST HAS GROWN TO INCLUDE COUSINS AND OLD F RIENDS OUR GENERATION IS FAST DISSAPEARING TOO… ALMOST A BIWEEKLY OCCURANCE .. THE LARGE MILLS ARE STILL THERE MASSIVE LIMESTONE STRUCTURES AND OLD BEAMS THAT HAVE S TOOD FOR OVER A HUNDRED YEARS… THE INITIAL INDUSTRY GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN… DID SPEND A BIT OF TIME IN TEH PLYMOGH AVENUE MILL AREA WHERE SOME PARTS ARE NOW BREW/PUBS RESTAURANTS WITH THE MILL HISTORY IN VIEW… A BLAST FROM THE PAST….
    NOW LIVE IN LINCOLN NEBRASKA WAY OUT WEST IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COUNTRY…. SPECIAL IN ITS OWN WAY BUT IT’S NOT HOME IN REALITY MY ROOTS AND FORMATIVE YEARS WERE IN FALL RIVER A VERY DIVERSE COMMUNITY WITH LOTS OF ETHENIC VARIATIONS… STILL GET CARE PACKAGES FROM MY BROTHER TO REMIND ME OF WHAT I AM MISSING… COFFEE SYRUP. HO MEIN CHOW MEIN,, CHOURICO LINGUICA AND PORTUGEE BREADS AH THE BREADS WONDERFUL AND FRESH FROM COLUMBIA STREET BAKERIES.. WHEN TRAVELLING TRU THE AREA I USED TO GATHER UP THESE ITEMS AND CHECK THEM ON MY FLIGHT BACK TO THE FAMILY…. FOR OUR ENJOYMENT LATER… FREEZING OF SOME OF THE ITEMS MAKES ENJOYMNEMT A LONG TERM ACTIVITY… AMEN TO THAT

    RONNIE SOULIERE

     

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