The Heartbeat of Haverhill

Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA

Haverhill is “Hometown, USA” in Archie Comics

The Heartbeat of Haverhill attends a long roster of Haverhill High School events and we’ve seen our share of characters. Comic illustrator Bob Montana found 30 years of inspiration when he spent just three years at Haverhill High. Even today, among the current students at Haverhill High School, you can still identify the Archies, the Jugheads, the Bettys, the Veronicas, even the Mooses. The years may change, why even the high school building and location changed but those universal characters continue to inhabit the halls.

Original Bob Montana artwork on display at Buttonwoods Museum on loan from Jeff and Elaine Linehan

Original Bob Montana artwork on display at Buttonwoods Museum on loan from Jeff and Elaine Linehan. Jeff’s dad, Richard ‘Skinny’ Linehan may be the inspiration for Jughead.

Our familiarity with the Riverdale High School points out that HHS alum and former contributor to the Brown and Gold HHS newspaper, Bob Montana, did what he set out to do – create Hometown USA from his memories of Haverhill High School in the late 1930s.

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Bob Montana’s diary from his Haverhill High school years

In Haverhill there could be a very good reason we feel as if we know the gang personally. Research may indicate that many of the characters were inspired by Montana’s real Haverhill HS classmates. They are relate-able because they are real. A new documentary written and directed by Gerald Peary showcases the search to find the real inspiration of that much loved character – Betty.  The movie is “Archie’s Betty”  http://www.imdb.com/media/rm924840960/tt4584822?ref_=tt_ov_i  Media as diverse as WBUR public radio, the Eagle Tribune (article by Mike LaBella), Washington Times and Hearst TV produced stories about the film’s development and the reaction from Haverhill Hillies.

Archie fans will get a chance to view the film on October 1, 2015 when the Buttonwoods Museum partners with Northern Essex Community College to present the documentary “Archie’s Betty” by Gerald Peary. The film will be shown at 3 p.m. and, again, at 6:30 p.m. in the Technology Center at Northern Essex Community College. This event is free and open to the public. Go to the Buttonwoods website for more details.

But what really brought home the nation’s obsession with our comic book hero was a recent exhibit at The Buttonwoods Museum/Haverhill Historical Society showcasing all the Archie memorabilia.  Nancy Silberkleit’s (the widow of Michael Silberkleit, the son of Archie Comics co-founder Louis Silberkleit) spoke at the museum where her nationally-touring, personal collection of vintage Archie memorabilia is on display. In the fin mix of products you’l find Archie note books, lunch boxes, vests, jackets, juice glasses, dolls, Frisbees and more.

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There are reproductions from Montana’s diaries, and old comic strips. Venerable media like Bon Appetit and the Atlantic Monthly used Archie on their covers.

The Archie exhibit will be on view September 4 – October 6, 2015 during regular museum hours. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for children ages 7-17. http://www.buttonwoods.org/. In addition to the comic book memorabilia, there is a chair from a long gone Haverhill malt shop, a wooden phone booth from Mitchell’s Department store and a restored portion of the Woolworth lunch counter that all serve to remind us of a simpler time.

Don’t forget to take your selfie with Jughead before you leave the Buttonwoods exhibit.

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RESOURCES:

Buttonwoods Museum/Haverhill Historical Society http://www.buttonwoods.org/

“Archie’s Betty”  http://www.imdb.com/media/rm924840960/tt4584822?ref_=tt_ov_i

Eagle Tribune article:  http://www.eagletribune.com/news/haverhill/who-are-real-people-behind-archie-comic/article_2401f6cd-7a97-51ee-ba88-afac438e19a7.html

(c)Alison Colby-Campbell

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Alison Colby-Campbell

Brain4Rent/THoH

Brain4Rent/THoH

Full-brain user demonstrating a healthy(?) obsession with marketing, promotion, writing, photography, house rabbits, the natural world, tennis, big and small problem solving, reading, hiking, HGTV and the flotsam & jetsam of everyday life. My three blogs Brain4Rent, The Heartbeat of Haverhill, Alison Colby-Campbell Photography are Wordpress based.

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