If anyone needed a reason why funding the library is a better use of fundraising than idiotic murals and giant shoes, I refer you to the article “小笠原諸島における言語接触の歴史” by Dr. Daniel Long of the Japanese Language Center at Osaka (History of language contact in the Ogasawara Islands). It is a report on the dialect of the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands, distinctive because Yankee whalers settled among the native population and added Anglo influences on the isolated islands.
The most significant of these Yankees was Nathaniel Savory of Georgetown, who has brought scholars and film crews from Japan to the Haverhill Library to research Savory. I’m cited by the above article, which has been reprinted repeatedly, because my notes on Savory are in Special Collections. The late lamented Special Collections archivist Greg Laing has appeared on Japanese television repeatedly.
This was 15 years ago. Now, if a foreign TV crew tried to make arrangements to put Haverhill in the international spotlight again, they’d be lucky if someone answers the phone. Let’s get Special Collections, which brought hundreds, if not thousands of out of town visitors to Haverhill, back up and running with a dedicated staff member and sufficient hours for someone to make the trip to Haverhill. Those visitors ate in Haverhill, fueled their cars in Haverhill and some stayed overnight to continue their research. Genealogy is one of the top 5 hobbies in the US. Trying to identify obscure local figures painted on a wall is a significantly smaller collection of hobbyists.
But at least we have giant painted shoes to remind us of when we were a grimy, failed, industrial center.