Welcome to Peabody Patch
Editor of Peabody Patch experiences some childhood déjà vu and has fond memories growing up in the Tanner City.
Shortly after I began working as editor of Peabody Patch, I visited the Peabody Institute Library so I could list it in our new website's directory. The assistant librarian asked me, "Have you ever been here before?"
A smile immediately came to my face.
"Why, yes I have. I actually came here a lot with my mother and younger brother when I was 8- years old and took out books right here in the children's room."
That was in 1972 when my family and I first moved to Peabody. My dad, Robert L. Cook, had just retired from the Army after 23 years and we just moved into our new home on 4 Ayer St. It was a two-family home where we occupied the first floor and rented out the second floor to various tenants. It was a green, Georgian colonial-style home that featured an impressive front porch with white pillars.
Fast forward 38 years and there I was a 46-year-old man standing in the same children's reading room learning about the library for my directory item. My first two weeks on the job were full of moments like that.
One of the first places I visited was our former family home on Ayer Street, which had seemed so long when I was a kid and now felt so small. I went back there during the filming of my welcome video.
I looked at the first-floor bay window and remembered that is where we always put our Christmas tree, which was framed by the lights we strung along the front porch. I drove to places like Marss Park and Welch Elementary School where I attended grade school, and Higgins Midde School, which was called Higgins Junior High School way back when.
It almost felt like a scene out of Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol" where Scrooge revisits his childhood with the Ghost of Christmas Past. But unlike Scrooge, I have nothing but fond memories of those school days.
In Peabody Square, there are also plenty of businesses that existed back in the 1970s like the Bill and Bob's restaurant and Dunkin' Donuts on Central Avenue. What I remember the most about D&D back then was that they served coffee in cups and saucers and patrons often sat at the counter. Somehow the coffee and plain doughnuts tasted so much better then than they do now.
It has been a real pleasure rediscovering the city that I left in 1979 when my family moved to Rowley. I was a freshman in high school, but I never got a chance to attend Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. I went to Triton Regional High School in Byfield instead.
While a lot of older and traditional Peabody icons look the same as they did when I was a child like the signature Peabody Square's war monument, City Hall, and Emerson Park where I once played Little League and Lou Gehrig League baseball, I saw a lot of new and exciting things, too.
The Peabody Bikeway with its miles of well-marked, paved trails is a very impressive effort by the city to conserve and celebrate its not so well-known natural areas. Brooksby Farm also lends a certain rural charm to Peabody that some visitors may not be aware of. Besides the sprawling North Shore Mall, Centennial Park with its impressive medical and high-tech business tenants continues to hold the key to Peabody's future prosperity in the 21st century.
As it was during the 1970s, Peabody is still a city whose stength is built on its ethnic diversity. Throughout its history, waves of immigrants from Italy, Greece and Ireland came to work in the city's former leather tanneries. In more recent years, the city has welcomed Brazilians and immigrants from the Dominican Republic who are proudly carrying on Peabody's reputation as a hard-working city that has proven a great place to raise families.
I am sure there will be plenty of times when I will trip down memory lane and remember the place I called home for eight years when I was a child, the wonderful friends I made, and the kindness that so many Peabody residents showed my family. But I also know that our freelance reporters, columnists and I will be grounded in the present as we strive to tell Peabody's stories today.
As it was then and it is now, Peabody continues to be a progressive, forward-thinking North Shore city with a rich history, culture and desire to serve its citizens well. And so shall we.