Waltham Shines At Historical Show
Breaking historical records in Waltham.
Aged pictures were lovingly carried with pride and just a hint of caution. Some were cracked and ragged while others were pristine and looked newly developed. A few were framed and others came in envelopes. Some were pulled from shirt or pants’ pockets.
It didn’t matter how the pictures, newspaper clippings or stories arrived at the National Archives July 16 for the Mass. Memories Road Show, state-wide UMass-Boston initiative that documents the personal history of a community’s past – whether through stories, documents or photos. What mattered was, that from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. people preserved Waltham history for future generations.
In fact, according to City Councilor Diane LeBlanc, also the National Archives regional director and Heather Cole, the University of Massachusetts Boston project director for the Mass. Memories Road Show, Waltham outdid every other participating town.
There were 204 attendees, 195 contributors and 582 images. Fifty people made a commemorative video.
“There were record breaking statistics from the Waltham Mass. Memories Road Show.” LeBlanc said. “This is their best result to date. Those numbers are going to go up. There were probably a dozen folks that didn’t get there on a Saturday and dropped their stuff on Monday.”
Cole said the show produced the highest number of contributors and photographs.
There were great stories and a great mix of people. Some were from generations of Waltham families, others were transplants and still others were recent residents, Cole said.
“Everyone seemed like they had a good time,” Cole said, adding that that was part of the goal too.
She especially enjoyed the location and commended LeBlanc for offering the venue and the sponsors for doing such a spectacular job. There’s a reason.
“Waltham is a community that appreciates its history,” LeBlanc said. “It takes effort to have people commit during a beautiful Saturday during the summer.
LeBlanc, Cole and others said the show was also about putting families and stories into history books, as was evident with Frank and Barbara Maloney. Each brought old and not-so-old pictures. Frank, a retired Raytheon photographer and Barbara, a nurse, have lived in Waltham for decades. Frank arrived when he was 3-years-old and Barbara came in 1952 after nursing school.
“I took a picture of the old room that my father used to have for his jewel making for the Waltham Watch Company,” Frank said. “He went to the vocational school and had them build him a bench. We put it in the living room, of all places. He did his machining there.”
Frank said his father’s customers came to the house and he would machine the jewels for them, “rubies, mostly.” Frank said.
Frank’s father had a working relationship and a deal with the Waltham Watch Factory.
Even more impressive – he was trained at Bird Precision. Remember that company from last week’s column?
Barbara and Frank, a history lover who is on the Waltham Historical Society and Waltham Museum’s boards enjoyed the day. “It was efficient, well run and we loved to be a part of it,” Frank said.
Those who went know that everyone appreciated the opportunity to immortalize lives and personal stories.
“It was an incredible day,” LeBlanc said.