My husband’s parents were born in Lawrence, Massachusetts in the early 1900s, and like many children of immigrants they returned to Italy with their parents several times before finally making the decision to remain in the United States. Angelina and Michael may never have met if they had not both been working at the Wood Mill. Over the course of their marriage they endured lay offs associated with the rise and fall of the textile industry, but they always managed to find enough work to provide for themselves and their two children. Angelina eventually became a seamstress with William Barry in Lawrence and her husband found work as a truck driver and later as a custodian.
The family moved to North Andover when Larry was a young boy and his sister Marie was in her teens. When thinking about their careers neither Larry nor Marie considered the textile industry after witnessing the uncertainty experienced by their parents.
When I met Larry in the early 1990s he had been an accountant with his own business for many years. He visited me at the museum’s former home in North Andover the morning after our first date. When I gave him a tour, and demonstrated the 19th century spinning frame, Larry’s eyes lit up as he realized that this was the type of machine that his father had operated for many years. Until that moment Larry never fully appreciated the skill that was required for his father’s job and the pride that he must have felt in his work.
Today Larry appreciates all the advances that have been made in the textile industry since his parents’ days in the mills, especially as he is riding his light weight carbon fiber bicycle wearing his high performance clothing. He also takes pride in the fact that his parents were part of the textile heritage that paved the way for these advances.
Although we now feature all of these high-tech textiles in our new exhibition Textile Revolution: An Exploration Through Space and Time, I still delight in seeing the broad smiles on visitors faces when they find a link to their past here at ATHM.
Director of Advancement