Manchester Cricket-it’s not just a bug

The name Cricket, as applied to this paper, does not refer to that cheerful little insect immortalized by Charles Dickens, nor to the popular English sport by that name. In the days before Manchester was Manchester, the village was known as Jeffrey’s Creek, a tiny settlement having been founded some time previous to 1635 on the shores of a creek making in from the sea, the leader among them being one William Jeffrey, who came from England, and the little bank forming the village became known as Creekites. In 1645, by a grant of the General Court, the name was changed to Manchester but the appellation of Creekites clung to its inhabitants, until in the course of time, it was changed by evolution to Crickets. Throughout my boyhood the people of Manchester were known by their neighbors as Manchester Crickets. Therefore, when Manchester’s local paper was born, in May of 1888, the writer then and ever since its editor, thought the name a very appropriate one and Cricket it has been ever since.

I.M. Marshall
Former Editor, The Manchester Cricket

The History of News Delivery in Manchester

Former Editor, Daniel B. Slade

It is a pleasure to chronicle here, the history of delivering the news to the inhabitants of Manchester. Most of the information was gathered by my father, Daniel F. Slade, for talks he has given to social and civic groups in town including the Manchester Historical Society and the Manchester Club.

In the early days of Manchester there were no local newspapers. There was however, a local column in the Salem Gazette which furnished the people with the gossip of the village and enlarged a little upon the more important happenings of the day. In later years, Thomas Slade, my great great-grandfather became the Manchester correspondent for the Cape Ann Advertiser, writing under the nom de plume of Plato. This paper was the forerunner of the Gloucester Daily Times. Thomas furnished a very interesting column of local events for many years.

It is said that Manchester’s first newspaper, which enjoyed a regular circulation, was born in 1875. The Beetle and Wedge was founded by Julius F. Rabardy, who also became its publisher and editor. The paper was a four page sheet that came up short on the local news but was long on special features and it even took a part in discussions on national questions. It was published on a monthly basis. The Beetle and Wedge only lasted about three years; much to the regret of the local citizens.

Back sometime in the 1970’s, I was rummaging through my father’s collection of old newspapers and came across, Vol. I, No. I, of, The Manchester Visitor. It was published in 1870 but listed neither editor nor publisher. It is unknown if a second edition was ever printed.

The residents of Manchester had to depend upon outside papers for their news until May 19, 1888, when The Manchester Cricket came into being. It was a 4-page sheet, 12 x 18 inches, published by Albert Vittum, publisher of The Beverly Times, with Issac M. Marshall as its editor, a position Mr. Marshall filled with distinction until ill health forced him to retire in October of 1945.

The “Cricket” met with a most cordial welcome. The first subscriber was Charles A. Reed, who remained a loyal reader until his death.

In 1889, the paper was enlarged to eight pages, 13 x 20 inches. In 1893, it was purchased outright by Marshall and in 1895 was again enlarged to six columns, eight pages, and 15 x 22 inches. One hundred years ago, in July of 1895,The Manchester Cricket hit the streets with a handsomely illustrated 16 page edition in celebration of Manchester’s 250th anniversary.

The Slade family first became involved with The Manchester Cricket in 1922, when an important business merger found the Manchester Printing Company, a job printing establishment with a 10 year history, owned and operated by my grandfather, Harry E. Slade, Sr., and The Manchester Cricket combining to form one business. Under the laws of Massachusetts the enterprise became The Cricket Press, Incorporated. Isaac Marshall was the first president and treasurer of the firm and my grandfather was the first clerk.

Shortly after the merger new equipment was purchased and the printing part of the paper was done in Manchester. Four pages would come from the Western Newspaper Union in Boston, pre-printed and the remaining four would be printed here. Prior to this time, Mr. Marshall had the newspaper printed in Boston.

Under a business agreement, Harry Slade purchased his partner’s share of the company and he became the second president/treasurer of the corporation.

In 1935 the concern outgrew its property on Elm Street and purchased the land and building at 66 Summer Street, which was the home of the North Shore Printing Company, publishers of the North Shore Breeze. The “Breeze,” founded in 1905, was a wonderful magazine founded and edited by Mr. J. Alex Lodge and chronicled the news of the resort communities along the North Shore. For a period of thirty-five years The North Shore Breeze was a very popular and informative publication. Mr. Lodge compiled a complete directory of summer visitors to the area, noting when they would open their “cottages” for the summer and when they would close them for the season. The areas prominent social events were always featured in the magazine.

In addition to The North Shore Breeze, Mr. Lodge published The Boston Breeze and another larger publication out of New York. Along with publishing the “Breeze” he also ran a commercial printing company first located on Beach Street, in the building which is now Beach Street Café, and then at 66 Summer Street.

Mr. Marshall retired in 1945 and my grandfather, Harry E. Slade, Sr. took over as editor until my father, Daniel F. Slade returned to the family business following his graduation from Syracuse University and his tour of duty with The United States Marine Corps during World War II. Harry E. Slade, Jr., Dan’s brother, joined the business following his graduation from Wentworth University and his tour with the United States Army.

In April of 1952 another major change took place. The use of the Western Newspaper pre-print was discontinued and we started to print the entire paper in our own plant, eight pages of and about the town and its residents.

For many years The Manchester Cricket was the major project for the Cricket Press, Inc. However, when the commercial printing overtook the newspaper new equipment had to be added to keep up with the business. The yard between the cottage out front had to be filled in with an addition which became the front office. Then in 1962 another addition was added to the back of the shop on Brook Street.

By the late 1970’s the need for more space required The Cricket Press and The Manchester Cricket to move once again. On July 12, 1982, with the purchase of new equipment, the business moved into 50 Summer Street.

In 2004, the newspaper moved into the computer age and is now published electronically and sent via email to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune in Andover to be published each week.