Some images from Memorial Day at the Franklin Park Zoo.
Some images from Memorial Day at the Franklin Park Zoo.
April 15 was Patriots Day in Massachusetts and we celebrated in our usual way.
First, we attended the Red Sox game, the only scheduled MLB game each season scheduled to start before noon. The weather was cold and wet and the Red Sox lost, but it’s still better than going to work on a Monday morning.
Next, we went to watch the runners in the Boston Marathon. We somehow missed seeing all four people we knew running the race, but cheered on lots of strangers at the corner of Hereford and Boylston. This is a fun place to watch since it’s the first place the runners can see the finish line and they get very jubilant at the turn.
Last Saturday, I marched in Jamaica Plain’s annual Wake Up the Earth Parade with my daughter who moved between two groups in the parade, her school and her afterschool program. As often happens, the kids’ baseball games conflicted with actually attending the Wake Up the Earth festival, but I did enjoy the many artistic expressions of my JP neighbors in the parade.
Today is the 100th anniversary of strangest disasters in history, the Great Molasses Flood in Boston’s North End. On January 15, 1919, a 2.3-million gallon tank of molasses on the Charles River waterfront burst open and sent a wave of the sticky, brown fluid into the working-class, immigrant neighborhood. It’s a quirky story, and one that lends itself to jokes along the lines of “a sticky situation” and “slow as molasses in January,” but the disaster had catastrophic human cost.
21 people died in the molasses flood, crushed by the force of the wave or smothered by the sticky goo forced into their noses and mouths. Another 150 people were injured, some trapped in the molasses as it cooled as rescue workers attempted to fight through the congealed mass to reach them. Buildings were damaged and demolished, including a firehouse that was pushed off it’s foundations by the wave. The damage to the neighborhood was extensive, and it took teams of workers several weeks to clean up the molasses.
I noted earlier that this storage tank was built in a working class, immigrant neighborhood, and as a result the victims were Irish and Italian laborers and children. Not only was it dangerous to have an industrial structure in a residential neighborhood, but the substandard construction of the tank was directly responsible for the disaster. The owner of the tank, United States Industrial Alcohol, was forced to pay out a large settlement in a class action suit and the government more stringently enforced regulation of industrial construction in the wake of the disaster. And yet, even today, the poorest among us – especially people of color and immigrants – suffer the most from industry’s callous disregard of human life. I recently listened to a podcast about Africatown – a community in Alabama created by formerly enslaved people – which is suffering from pollutants dumped by a nearby paper mill. As I remember the victims of the Great Molasses Flood, I also think of how even today there are poor communities in America suffering from the effects of factories and refineries adjacent to their homes, illegal dumping of pollutants in their water, and interstate highways cutting through their neighborhoods.
The centennial was commemorated this morning with a ceremony at Langone Park, a baseball field in the North End where the tank once stood. Participants in the event stood in a circle recreating the circumference of the tank. Photo via Adam Gaffin (@universalhub) on Twitter.
There are a lot of resources available should you wish to learn more about the Great Molasses Flood. One of the best articles I’ve read covering the anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood is by Cara Giaimo on Atlas Obscura. Other articles on the anniversary were published in The Boston Globe and The Guardian. Archaeologists from the University of Massachusetts-Boston recently performed a geophysical survey to find the foundations of the tank. Scientific American studied the physics behind the disaster. The definitive history of the Great Molasses Flood is Dark Tide by Stephen Puleo. Dennis Lehane also included a fictional account of the disaster in his novel The Given Day. The Hub History podcast episode on The Great Molasses Flood is also worth a listen. Finally, The Dead Milkmen recorded a musical tribute to the disaster.
Once again, the Red Sox paraded through Boston aboard Duck Boats, carrying their four trophies and receiving cheers from fans (and returning the favor). My kids and I watched from the same spot on Tremont Street opposite Boston Common that we watched the 2013 parade.
The photographic highlights are below, with my full photo album also available at http://www.othemts.com/redsoxparade18/.
King Charles I of the United Kingdom was executed by beheading in 1649. Over 300 years later, in 1965, the people of Boston and Cambridge began commemorating his decapitation with the annual Head of the Charles Regatta.∗
I was on the banks and bridges of the Charles River and snapped a few photos. Thanks to all the rowers for being so darn photogenic.
* This origin story is completely fictional.
Clear your calendar Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 6:00pm-7:30pm for the Boston By Foot walking tour Bostonians Behaving Badly, lead by yours truly among others. This tour discusses the history of riots and mob violence in Boston from colonial times to the 20th century.
As a warmup to the tour, check out the most recent Hub History podcast episode, Riot Classics. All three civil disturbances discussed in this podcast will be featured on the tour.
You may purchase tickets online ahead of the tour ($15/each or $5 if you’re a member), or buy them in cash from the guides on the night of the tour. We meet outside of the Park Street MBTA entrance on Boston Common.
Are you interested in exploring two different parts of Boston’s historic South End neighborhood? If yes, come out and take two Boston By Foot walking tours I will be leading.
First, tomorrow night, Thursday, September 20, 6 pm-7:30 pm, the South End tour leaves from the plaza opposite the Back Bay MBTA Station on Dartmouth Street.
Next, there are two opportunities to explore SoWa: South of Washington on Sunday, September 23, 2018 (a members preview tour – you can become member online or in person) and Sunday, September 30, 2018. Both tours start at 2 pm from Broadway Station on the Red Line.
Tickets are $15/person ($5 for BBF members) and can be purchased online or in person before the tour begins on Sunday.
Today I’m attending the Rally for Transgender Equality at Copley Square. Hundreds of people are making it known that our transgender friends, family, children, coworkers, and neighbors deserve equal protection against discrimination in public places such as restaurants, hotels, and hospitals.
In reality, we shouldn’t have to be here as transgender people should not be discriminated against and their rights have been protected under Massachusetts law since 2016. But people acting on ignorance and prejudice have put forward a ballot referendum asking Massachusetts voters to repeal the laws that protect our transgender neighbors from discrimination. No ones human rights should ever be put to a vote, but since they’re bringing this fight to us, we’re here to show our love for transgender people and defend their rights and dignity.
Learn more about why you should vote Yes on 3 at the Freedom for All website.
If you live in Massachusetts, you have a Primary Election one week from today on September 4, 2018. Yes, that’s the day after Labor Day! As general elections in Massachusetts are often uncontested or with minimal opposition to the incumbent, the primary election is YOUR opportunity to have YOUR voice heard. This year there is an opportunity to vote for several progressive candidates to shake up the complacent Democratic Party establishment. Despite a clear majority in the Commonwealth’s legislature, Democrats have been hesitant to challenge Republican governor Charlie Baker, and failed to pass popular legislation such as the Safe Communities Act to protect immigrants’ rights or reform the FBRC school funding formula.
If you are a registered member of the Democratic, Libertarian, or Republican parties, you may vote on your party’s ballot on the primary election day. If you’re an independent – or, “Unenrolled” in official parlance – you may select the ballot of any ONE party to vote on.
Use this tool to find your ballot and where to vote: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx
You can also find a list of candidates for state primaries in Boston here: https://www.boston.gov/sites/default/files/2018_-_09-04-18_-_state_primary_candidates_all_parties.pdf
I am an independent and will be voting on the Democratic Party ballot. Here is who I will be voting for:
(NOTE: I’ve not included endorsements for Governor’s Council, Clerk of Supreme Judicial Court, Clerk of Superior Court (Civil Business), and Clerk of Superior Court (Criminal Business) because I have not been able to find enough information about the candidates)
Candidates who are not in my district, but have my support, include: