EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


October 27, 2010

Haverhill's welcome sign and new book honor macabre master Rob Zombie

HAVERHILL — You can drive past the welcome sign in front of the water treatment plant at Kenoza Lake and never see it.

But a closer look will reveal the name of Haverhill native Rob Zombie, whose movies have filled theaters with a bounty of blood and gore.

For author Jason Ocker, that ghoulish connection led him to include a picture of the sign along with a biography of Robert Cummings (Zombie) in his new book, "The New England Grimpendium: A Guide to Macabre and Ghastly Sites."

Cummings was born in Haverhill in 1965, graduated from Haverhill High School in 1983 and went on to achieve fame with his heavy metal band White Zombie. He then began producing horror films such as "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects."

He is the focus of two pages in Ocker's guide to the dark side of New England, which he refers to in his book's introduction as "the spooky attic at the top of the country."

He also mentions the city's other welcome signs, all of which boast the names of famous Haverhill residents, including TV personality Tom Bergeron. Ocker has a little fun with the city's name, noting that it is pronounced in two syllables as "Havrill."

"I'm not a ghost hunter, but I love ghost stories and I'm a big horror fan," said Ocker, a Maryland native now living in Nashua, N.H.

He revisited Haverhill recently and met Pentucket and Haverhill Kiwanis member Peter Carbone, who coordinated the changeover in celebrity names on six welcome signs in conjunction with Exchange, Rotary, Lions and Soroptimist International. These service clubs erected the signs at Haverhill's gateways years ago and maintain them.

"He could have included a photo of Rob Zombie's house (in Connecticut), or Haverhill High School, or even his photo, but he didn't," Carbone said. "He used a photo of one of our welcome signs. I'm going to share the news with the other service clubs."

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