Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Great Molasses Flood

Today is the 96th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood (aka the Boston Molasses Disaster).

This sounds very odd and fascinating, you say. What is heaven's name is the Great Molasses Flood?

Pull up a chair, my friend, and I will tell you a little story.

From the Boston Globe via Wikipedia

On January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, a poorly built 50 ft. tall storage tank collapsed at the Purity Distilling Company facility on Commercial Street. Almost 2,300,000 gallons of molasses burst out of the enormous tank, creating a 25 ft. tall wave that moved down the narrow streets at an almost unbelievable rate of 35 miles per hour.

21 people were killed and 150 were injured. Horses and other animals were smothered. Buildings were pulled from their foundations and destroyed. The elevated train tracks at Atlantic Street were mangled and a train was lifted off the tracks. The accompanying rush of air around the flood hurled debris and caused coughing fits. Afterwards, waist-high molasses flooded several blocks in every direction.

From Wikimedia Commons

Rescuers and medical professionals worked around the clock for four days hunting for bodies in the goo and tending to the injured before they stopped searching for survivors.

The immediate cleanup took weeks, although people in Boston reported sticky molasses all over town for months afterwards as workers, survivors, and rubberneckers had tracked the stuff through the streets and onto public transportation, etc. A fire boat was used to hose down the neighborhood with salt water which ran off back into the ocean causing the harbor to be brown all the way through the Summer.

And now, it's an infamous part of Boston lore. People here claim that you can still smell the molasses in the North End on hot and humid days, although I don't ever remember smelling it back when we lived on Beacon Hill.

From Wikimedia Commons

But why molasses, you're wondering. Why would anyone want 14,000 tons of molasses in a tank next to the Boston Harbor?

The Purity Distilling Company fermented molasses to produce ethanol which it's parent company, the United States Industrial Alcohol Co., then used to make rum and other spirits. An article about the Molasses Flood from a 1983 issue of Smithsonian, included the following little vignette:

"As the rescue workers and clean-up crews tackled the incredible mess the night of January 16, they paused in puzzlement at the sudden ringing of church bells all over downtown Boston. Nebraska had voted on the 18th Amendment and ratified it. Prohibition was law, and churches which had campaigned for it in their pulpits now celebrated. Men up to their ankles in the makings of rum listened for a moment and went back to work."

So, if you really need an excuse to break open the bottle of Captain Morgan today, pour one out for Boston in memory of the Great Molasses Disaster of 1919. Cheers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

20 Questions with Kate, Age 6

  1. What is your favorite color? purple
  2. What is your favorite toy? kinetic sand
  3. What is your favorite fruit? bananas
  4. What is your favorite TV show? Hard choice! I like all of them.
  5. What is your favorite outfit? Hard choice again. I really like all of my outfits, actually.
  6. What is your favorite game? snowball fights
  7. What is your favorite snack? pretzels
  8. What is your favorite animal? cat
  9. What is your favorite song? I would say...hmm...What Does the Fox Say?
  10. What is your favorite book? I love all books.
  11. Who is your best friend? I have a lot, so I choose all my friends.
  12. What is your favorite thing to do outside? build a snowman
  13. What is your favorite meal? sushi
  14. What is your favorite drink? that fancy drink on New Year's Eve (Nana made the girls sparkling grape juice with orange slices and maraschino cherries in fancy cut glass tumblers!)
  15. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
  16. What do you want to be when you grow up? a vet
  17. Where is your favorite place to go? I like traveling a lot, so I like every place I go.
  18. What is the best thing about school? when you do birthday books (her teacher's fun class project on the kids' birthdays since the school has a no parties policy)
  19. If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do? I would basically do anything.
  20. If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be? a kitten
[Note: Decisiveness may not be Kate's strong suit! Maggie said, "I don't think Kate understands how you play this game." I think she just likes to keep her options open.]

More 20 Questions from the past few years HERE!

Kate is Six Years Old!

January 2014




Her first "gone tooth."

Pre-K Graduation: "When I grow up I want to be - a Veterinarian" and What Does the Fox Say?: "Hello! My name is Callie!"

Looking miserable in the horrid blue poncho that made her look "ridiculous" at Niagara Falls.


First Day of Kindergarten


*photo by Jeff Fowler*


Oklahoma Birthday Party
She got a make-up case from my parents and is looking extra fancy.

New Hampshire Birthday Party
Oh, the animal prints!! Kate knows how to party.

January 6, 2015
Six Years Old!