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Life in North Amherst told through period photos

  • Patricia Holland holds a copy of "North Amherst and Cushman", open to an 1888 image of the falls at Puffer's Pond, during a tour of important sites around the two villages on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Patricia Holland holds a copy of "North Amherst and Cushman", open to an 1888 image of the falls at Puffer's Pond, during a tour of important sites around the two villages on Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Patricia Holland, co-author of "North Amherst and Cushman, from the "Images of America" series, visits the foundation for the 1848 Rubin Roberts paper mill. The site is along Cushman Brook off State Street in what is now part of the Mill River Conservation Area.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Patricia Holland, co-author of "North Amherst and Cushman, from the "Images of America" series, visits the foundation for the 1848 Rubin Roberts paper mill. The site is along Cushman Brook off State Street in what is now part of the Mill River Conservation Area.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Robert Winne, left, Patricia Holland and William Robinson, cross the Robert Francis Bridge over Cushman Brook during a tour of important sites in Cushman and North Amherst that are featured in Holland and Robinson's book, "North Amherst and Cushman". The brook flows into Puffer's Pond and becomes the Mill River.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Robert Winne, left, Patricia Holland and William Robinson, cross the Robert Francis Bridge over Cushman Brook during a tour of important sites in Cushman and North Amherst that are featured in Holland and Robinson's book, "North Amherst and Cushman". The brook flows into Puffer's Pond and becomes the Mill River.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Patricia Holland and William Robinson co-wrote "North Amherst and Cushman" for the "Images of America" series.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Patricia Holland and William Robinson co-wrote "North Amherst and Cushman" for the "Images of America" series.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Robert Winne, left, Patricia Holland and William Robinson stand outside the Cushman Market during a tour of important sites around Cushman and North Amherst on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Robert Winne, left, Patricia Holland and William Robinson stand outside the Cushman Market during a tour of important sites around Cushman and North Amherst on Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Robert Winne of N. Amherst walks through Cushman Market during a tour of important sites featured in the book, "North Amherst and Cushman", co-authored by his wife, Patricia Holland, and William Robinson.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Robert Winne of N. Amherst walks through Cushman Market during a tour of important sites featured in the book, "North Amherst and Cushman", co-authored by his wife, Patricia Holland, and William Robinson.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • The 1838 gristmill located on Montague Road. is one of the sites of North Amherst discussed in Patricia Holland and William Robinson's book, "North Amherst and Cushman".<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    The 1838 gristmill located on Montague Road. is one of the sites of North Amherst discussed in Patricia Holland and William Robinson's book, "North Amherst and Cushman".
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Patricia Holland holds a copy of "North Amherst and Cushman", open to an 1888 image of the falls at Puffer's Pond, during a tour of important sites around the two villages on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Patricia Holland, co-author of "North Amherst and Cushman, from the "Images of America" series, visits the foundation for the 1848 Rubin Roberts paper mill. The site is along Cushman Brook off State Street in what is now part of the Mill River Conservation Area.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Robert Winne, left, Patricia Holland and William Robinson, cross the Robert Francis Bridge over Cushman Brook during a tour of important sites in Cushman and North Amherst that are featured in Holland and Robinson's book, "North Amherst and Cushman". The brook flows into Puffer's Pond and becomes the Mill River.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Patricia Holland and William Robinson co-wrote "North Amherst and Cushman" for the "Images of America" series.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Robert Winne, left, Patricia Holland and William Robinson stand outside the Cushman Market during a tour of important sites around Cushman and North Amherst on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Robert Winne of N. Amherst walks through Cushman Market during a tour of important sites featured in the book, "North Amherst and Cushman", co-authored by his wife, Patricia Holland, and William Robinson.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • The 1838 gristmill located on Montague Road. is one of the sites of North Amherst discussed in Patricia Holland and William Robinson's book, "North Amherst and Cushman".<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

The North Amherst fire station, which has been converted into a small home, was built three stories tall so that the fire hoses could be hung out to dry.

And in Cushman, the Cushman Cafe and Market was previously known as the Cushman store, Rackliffe’s and Whittemore’s.

These are among the places illustrated in “North Amherst and Cushman,” the latest in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series compiled by two town residents.

For Patricia Holland, who worked on the book with William Robinson, a fascinating aspect of the project was learning about the long-gone mills that once lined the Mill River, manufacturing everything from paper and textiles to wooden toys and cutlery.

“The exciting part about this is finding out how many factories there were,” Holland said.

“A lot of people aren’t aware that the 26 mills made this area prominent,”said Robinson, noting that Cushman was once referred to as North Amherst City. “The main reason people settled here was because of the Mill River.”

Holland and Robinson collected oral histories and photographs in the process of researching the book, which goes on sale Monday. They plan to have it available in North Amherst stores, including the Cushman Cafe, as well as downtown and South Amherst stores, such as Hastings, Food for Thought, Amherst Books and Atkins Farms Country Market.

Holland, a retired history editor who has lived in Amherst since 1967, and Robinson, who operated a shoe repair business in downtown and grew up in North Amherst, spent two months gathering materials.

A love of history

For Holland, it’s a continuation of a published history of the North Amherst Library she completed in 1993 and updated a decade later.

“I love to do historical research, I’ve done it for work and for fun,” Holland said.

As editor in charge of historic documents at both Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts, Holland worked on papers of abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, collected copies of papers written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and until 2006, was the management editor at Amherst College for African-American history, a documentary project to collect papers related to the slave trade in the time before Columbus.

The North Amherst book project initially began when representatives from Arcadia contacted the Jones Library, Holland said. The project builds on work done by Daniel Lombardo, the former curator of special collections at Jones Library, who had previously written two books focused on Amherst and Hadley

Holland says losing her seat on the Jones Library Board of Trustees in 2011 gave her time to dedicate to the project, she said.

“After I got out of office I thought this would be a really fun thing to do.”

Robinson’s involvement came through Holland’s husband, Robert Winne. They got to know each other on the conservation trails next to the Mill River Recreation Area, where both regularly spend time — Winne taking photographs, and Robinson walking his dog, Munchy.

“I realized he knew a lot about North Amherst history and asked him if he would help me on the book,” Holland said.

Seeking pictures

Robinson was able to suggest many longtime residents of North Amherst and Cushman who could serve as good sources of both stories and photographs.

They began work in mid-March and finished by the end of May, when the first draft had to be sent to the publishers.

“It seemed like we were going seven days a week there,” Robinson said.

“One of the first ladies we interviewed was Mrs. (Barbara) Perchak, and she brought along Mrs. (Isabelle) Callahan, who was great,” Robinson said.

Peter Kaslauskas talked about the period in the 20th century when he helped cut the ice at Puffer’s Pond. “Everyone used to be waiting for the ice to freeze up,” Kaslauskas said.

Others interviewed and thanked in the book include Judith Ingram, Mary Szala and Louis and Hilda Greenbaum.

Robinson said it was important to hear people’s stories and not just rely on what is available at the Jones Library, though they did depend heavily on the library’s special collections as well as director Tevis Kimball and her assistant, Kate Boyle.

“We very often get involved with people working on books or films,” said Kimball. “The resources are incredible here.”

That includes access to 40,000 photo negatives and prints acquired since 1919, including the collections of the Howes Brothers’ photographs of Amherst and photographs by John L. Lovell, Lincoln Barnes, Donald Lacroix and Barr Ashcroft.

The library has a system for finding photographs by some individuals, and files related to North Amherst. There is also serendipity involved, Kimball said.

What made this research process different is that Holland and Robinson brought a portable scanner with them. Arcadia gives detailed instructions on how to do the scans, as well as how to prepare the text for the book. The only extended written pieces are in the foreword and at the beginning of each chapter.

“They do want nearly all photographs,” Holland said.

The pair came up with 417 photos to work with, but used only 229.

Most are images of places, though there are also pictures of people and even products, such as a paper dish rag manufactured in the Amherst Waxed Paper Mills.

Robinson said his favorite photograph is one depicting John Westcott, who ran Westcott and Sons trucking business. He is shown in a familiar hunch-over pose Robinson remembers from the 1950s.

Holland’s pick for most interesting photograph is one from the 1890s that shows schoolchildren at the North Amherst school.

It is the only historic photo that shows a black person, and it also depicts immigrants from Poland and Lithuania, as evidenced by the different clothing styles and fabrics the children are wearing.

Photos also show 19th-century farms along Montague Road and the popular Bates’ store, which once made home deliveries of groceries to residents, something Kaslauskas said he remembers with fondness.

When Holland started writing the book, the town was still discussing proposals for rezoning in North Amherst that would allow dense development in the center. Holland said she hopes the book will serve as a reintroduction of how people there lived and be an inspiration to readers to seek to preserve farmland for local food production.

“People were much more self-sufficient in these days. That’s something people might have to go back to,” she said.

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