Back around 1970, Kevin Arnold and I were in junior high school. Kevin was a Jets fan and in love with Winnie Cooper. I was trying to figure out what the hell the Patriots were all about and was way too awkward and dumb for girls.

Kevin and I were both keeping an eye on the Vietnam War back then and hoping we'd have high enough draft numbers to keep us the hell away from there. Kevin Arnold spent his "Wonder Years" in some fictitious California neighborhood designed for a TV audience.

My wonder years were spent on Brook Street between Shaw Street and Central Avenue in the shadow of Chamberlain Manufacturing. We didn't know what went on in there but it had something to do with making bombs for the war. My friend Dino's dad worked at Chamberlain. We stayed away.

Chamberlain Manufacturing (Barry Richard photo TSM0
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

The war eventually ended and Kevin Arnold and I were spared being drafted. As a result, Chamberlain Manufacturing, which hummed 'round the clock seven days a week during the height of the war, ground slowly to a halt. Eventually, the company closed.

Some 40-plus years after the Vietnam War ended, the largely empty Chamberlain Manufacturing complex is being eyed again, but this time for development as luxury apartments. Mayor Jon Mitchell tells me the proximity of the soon-to-be-constructed rail station just up the road off Church Street to the north of the Julius Koch property makes the mill building extremely appealing to rail commuters.

Planned location for rail station. (Barry Richard photo TSM)
Planned location for rail station. Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

New Bedford and other communities have done a wonderful job in recovering old mills and in some cases rehabbing them for apartments. With Chamberlain's connection to the Vietnam War, some might find it a difficult place to call home.

What about you, would you live there?

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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