Among them are three that I took, I believe it was in 1949, when I stopped at White's Corner and took pictures in all four directions, toward Main, Merrimack, Water and Bridge streets - which now leads to the Basiliere Bridge.
The scenes are of simply a moment in the history of the city, because none of the buildings that were there then are still there. And that includes the now-famous and, perhaps, even notorious Woolworth Building.
The pictures that I took are so clear (hard to beat those big old press cameras) that another patient of Dr. Kimball was able to find herself standing on a corner, holding her folded coat and waiting for the light to change, in front of Izzy Ash's Manhattan Shop clothing store. However, all that aside, the pictures bring to me recollections of downtown Haverhill when it was at its busiest.
Going to downtown Haverhill, meaning Merrimack Street, was as much a social event as a business one. Part of the reason for that was the presence of the high school, about three blocks away. As soon as school was out in the afternoon, many students surged toward Merrimack Street, to shop, to work or to socialize. For me, it was the latter.
It wasn't only high school students who flocked there, however. There were all kinds of things to attract people of all ages. The Woolworth store was one of those reasons, long before that art deco building (which is still there) went up at White's Corner.
Mitchell's department store brought shoppers from all around this part of the state, and many from southern New Hampshire as well. In my case, though, it was a matter of joining the rest of my "crowd" from school and hanging out to listen to jukebox music and just plain loaf around.
For many, however, it was simply the presence of many neighbors, friends and visitors that made downtown a lively, thriving, social place.
Hard to believe today, but there were so many people shopping in downtown Haverhill on Saturdays the police department sent five men to help the pedestrians crossing Merrimack Street in both directions.
Would we like to see that happen again? Of course. Can we expect that? Maybe. Conditions and people and circumstances change, and there is no going back to some things and places.
But there are new and vital things happening, and the way they are going has us seeing things move backward, compared to a generation ago.
Historically, Haverhill has grown westward from Water Street, but now it could be surging back from Washington Street.
Restaurants and boutiques and art centers are becoming increasingly attractive and busy, and there are indications the historic district is moving back toward the "old" downtown.
We have our own "surge" in Haverhill as the downtown population grows and expands beyond its red brick walls. And where does it go? Back toward Washington Square and Essex Street and other places on the fringe. When the new parking garage is built on Moulton Way, beside the railroad tracks and the busy square, people will be doing even more circulating and, one hopes, shopping in that neighborhood.
The Essex Street Grill restaurant is reported to be doing well, Maria's restaurant is welcoming a new function room and much work has gone into the changes being made in the Asian-style restaurant in the former Hotel Whittier, so things are happening as part of our own "surge," and we can look forward to more of the same.
We will never have a high school crowd downtown again, and that is regrettable, because that built up a downtown-going habit for many residents.
I am sorry a business proposal prepared by the Greater Haverhill Foundation fell through at the last minute, because I heard there were big plans that were shot down at the last minute, just as they were getting ready to rebuild that whole White's Corner area. However, there is bound to be something new in that part of town, and the sooner the better.
I have had the highest regard for the Foundation since its inception, when it helped rescue the city from utter destruction. Let's all back its efforts, in company with Team Haverhill, to return the inner city to its vibrant and active nature. It, and we, deserve that much.
Barney Gallagher has covered Haverhill since 1936 as a reporter, editor and columnist.