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Franklin history on display
By Joyce Kelly   - 04/04/2009

The Milford Daily News

More Info on This Book: Franklin

Town officials are raving about Franklin resident Alan R. Earls' new book, "Franklin Then and Now."

Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting and Councilor Judith Pond Pfeffer, both of whom recently read Earls' latest photographic history book, urge residents to check it out. Rep. James Vallee, D-Franklin, wrote the foreword to the 96-page book, which came out on Feb. 16.

"I loved it," Nutting said.

"First, I'm a history buff, and I was around for some of these changes - I remember when there was no Franklin Village Mall, and the old swimming hole. Just to see the comparisons of now and then, it's a fantastic job he's done," said Nutting.

Pond Pfeffer said she liked that Earls juxtaposed old images of Franklin with new ones, using the same angle, she said.

"I thought it was nostalgic, and I thought it was accurate," said Pond-Pfeffer.

Most of those photos have never been published before, Earls said, noting that a lot of people have told him they like seeing the side-by-side photographs of Franklin then and now.

His "then" photographs mostly came from the Franklin Historical Commission, of which he is a member, and from a local postcard collector.

"It showed how much the town has grown over past 75 to 100 years. I remember years ago, when I was little (55 years ago), downtown Franklin was absolutely crammed when stores were open late on Thursday nights. It was the social event because people worked long hours at the mills," and would go out afterward, she said.

"It brought back memories of what the town used to look like," Pond Pfeffer said.

Earls was the guest curator for "The Widgets of Route 128," an exhibit that ran from 2005 to 2006 at the Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham.

His interest in history, combined with his professional background as a business and technology writer, has led him to write and publish a number of photographic histories for Arcadia Publishing.

"I've lived in Franklin since the late '80s, which doesn't make me a native, but in a town growing so fast, it's the next best thing," said Earls.

When he was considering a book on Franklin's history, he said he jumped at the chance to produce one that matched old and new images.

"It seemed like a great opportunity, you get a sense of things over time," he said.

"The remarkable thing is, even though the town has changed, a lot has stayed the same, like downtown - you can almost expect a trolley car to go rolling by," Earls said.

Most notably, he said, was "knowing that not all that long ago, maybe 30 years ago, the Liquor World area used to be a beautiful colonial home and a farm. You'd never know that today," Earls said.

And he was intrigued by the fact that Horace Mann Plaza was not just named after Horace Mann - it's also where his home once stood, Earls said.

"Most people I've talked to about the book feel a bit of nostalgia when they read it," Earls said.

There have been several other books written about Franklin, including Mortimer Blake's history of Franklin, published in the 19th century, and James C. Johnston's "Odyssey in the Wilderness," Earls noted.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to those who have written about Franklin previously," Earls said.

Earls has also published "Route 128 and the Birth of the Age of High Tech" (2002), "Digital Equipment Corporation" (2004), "U.S. Army Natick Laboratories: The Science Behind the Soldier" (2005), "Watertown Arsenal" (2007), and "Greater Boston's Blizzard of 1978" (2008). He has also co-authored "Polaroid" and "Raytheon Company: The First 60 Years."

"Franklin, Then and Now," by Alan R. Earls, (Arcadia Publishing) costs $21.99 in softcover is available at Annie's Market on Rte. 140 and local bookstores.

Buy It Now: Franklin $21.99




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