It didn't make the best-seller list but this past May saw the publication of a title with standing in its own right: the "Haverhill, Massachusetts Trivia Book."
The book was originally produced in 1988 and was recently updated by authors E. Philip Brown and Pat Garwich in collaboration with students at Haverhill High School (home of the "Hillies"). In an objective sense, the trivia is probably only of interest to only a small circle of people. But, the book is delightful on a larger scale as an index of a place (described in the introduction as "an enterprising and uncommonly beautiful city, noted for the manufacture of boots and shoes") and a representation of how small facts and minor superlatives take on bigger meaning when they pertain to where you're from.
For instance, "Haverhill was referred to, but mispronounced, in the 2006 series finale of which popular NBC TV show?" If you're older than 20- and you're from Haverhill- you probably remember the slight like it was yesterday and have since sworn off reruns of The West Wing. There are also many trivia questions about Haverhill's most famous son, the poet John Greenleaf Whittier (or just "John" as perhaps he's known along the Merrimack), standard almanac type questions about geography and demographics, and a fun section called "Locate the Scenes from Haverhill."
Most people may not be in a position to care who the first fire chief in Haverhill was (Ezekial Hale, 1841-1845) or "What is the name of Howard Sterns' [sic] first wife who was from Haverhill?" (Alison Berns), but the world feels more accommodating to know that someone does.
You can browse the book here.
Image of Haverhill courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
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