Main Street in the Eighteen Seventies and Eighties & A Businessman’s Reminiscences of Fifty Years by Thomas Richmond Burrell
The FRHS is pleased to announce the publication of Number 2 in the Discourses on History series, Main Street in the Eighteen Seventies and Eighties & A Businessman’s Reminiscences of Fifty Years.
Written as two addresses titled “Main Street in the Seventies and Eighties” and “A Businessman’s Reminiscences of Fifty Years,” these papers were presented to members of the Fall River Historical Society on February 17, 1936, and May 22, 1933, respectively. In them, Thomas Richmond Burrell (1862-1953), a successful Fall River businessman and a brilliant conversationalist, provides a fascinating picture of the individuals – shopkeepers, laborers, residents, and businessmen alike, some of the decidedly eccentric – that populated the bustling center of Fall River, Massachusetts, during a period when that city was experiencing its apogee as the cotton cloth capitol of the world.
The author of these reminiscences charmingly captures the Fall River of his boyhood and young adulthood, painting a vivid portrait of daily life downtown — peppered with anecdotes — that brings to life the sights, sounds, and characters that would have been familiar to all who made that city their home.
These expanded versions of the original manuscripts, written in Burrell’s conversational, wonderfully lighthearted tone, have been slightly edited for readability and punctuation; italicized information in square brackets has been added for the purposes of clarification and context. The book is profusely illustrated with images from the FRHS collection, and those held privately, many of which are published here for the first time.
In the introduction to his address, Burrell wrote:
At the time that I agreed to write this paper I had the thought that it would be difficult to recall memories which would be of sufficient interest to warrant its writing at all.
But, when I opened the gates to the small stream of thought which I anticipated, I found that I was overwhelmed with a flood of memories and that I must be content with grasping one here and there as they whirled through my mind.
These are recorded here and are given to you for what they may be worth and with a hope that they may prove interesting.
The responses from his audiences to his descriptive “flood of memories” was extremely positive; readers today will be equally delighted.