If you’ve spent any time at Lowell’s Gallagher Terminal, you have undoubtedly noticed the large brick smokestack with the name “HOOD” painted on it towering over the adjacent brick building. Neither the name nor the building have anything to do with Hood’s Dairy. Instead, they mark what was once the largest patent medicine manufacturing plant in Lowell, the Charles I. Hood Company. As these excellent photos by Tony Sampas make clear, the building has endured numerous other uses since the demise of the patent medicine business.
Okay, I’m a hockey fan, but I’m not a “heek” (a hockey geek). I’ve heard the TV play-by-play announcers refer to the “Merlot line” of Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and Shawn Thornton, one of the Bruins’ supporting lines. What are they talking about, I wondered? I could have Googled the answer, but the question didn’t rise to the level of action. Today, reading a NYTimes article by Ben Strauss about Coach Claude Julien’s decision to shake up the offensive lines on Saturday night, I learned why “Merlot.” The name is a reference to the cranberry-colored jerseys worn by Campbell and line-mates during practices, which goes back two years. That is a deep cut from the album, but now I know—and you know, if anybody asks.
Note: Dick and I were on the same page this morning about “Bunker Hill” – posting about Nathaniel Philbrick’s take on Bunker Hill. My husband Bill Sweeney just finished the Philbrick book and had lots of good things to say. I’m suggesting this Smithsonian article as a place to start your research!
As the annual rituals unfold today in celebration of the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument erected to the consequences of a battle between the American “rebels” and the British regulars, noted author Nathaniel Philbrick offers his view. In a newly published article in the Smithsonian Magazine, Tony Horwitz detailed his interview with Philbrick who asks us to put aside the tradition and romance of the “stories” and dig deeper for the harsh realities of revolutionary Boston and in particular the “Battle of Bunker Hill.” Horwitz writes:
Philbrick is a mild-mannered 56-year-old with gentle brown eyes, graying hair and a placid golden retriever in the back of his car. But he’s blunt and impassioned about the brutishness of the 1770s and the need to challenge patriotic stereotypes. “There’s an ugly civil war side to revolutionary Boston that we don’t often talk about,” he says, “and a lot of thuggish, vigilante behavior by groups like the Sons of Liberty.” He doesn’t romanticize the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord, either. The “freedoms” they fought for, he notes, weren’t intended to extend to slaves, Indians, women or Catholics. Their cause was also “profoundly conservative.” Most sought a return to the Crown’s “salutary neglect” of colonists prior to the 1760s, before Britain began imposing taxes and responding to American resistance with coercion and troops. “They wanted the liberties of British subjects, not American independence,” Philbrick says.
Of course, you can get the full flavor of this piece of history by reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s book “Bunker Hill.”
Father’s Day brought me a copy of Nathaniel Philbrick’s recently published book, “Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution” which I’m sure is a fine addition to his already impressive list of works on American history (In the Heart of the Sea, Last Stand, Mayflower). For whatever reason, Bunker Hill has not received the notice due to it as a critical event not only in the American Revolution but in the creation of our country itself. In his introduction, Philbrick announces his intent to explore that topic in this sentence: “Thus, the Battle of Bunker Hill is the critical turning point in the story of how a rebellion born in the streets of Boston became a countrywide war of Independence.”
The Battle of Bunker Hill also had some bearing on the creation of Lowell nearly a half century later. Recall that the first skirmish of the War of American Independence occurred in April at Lexington and Concord. The aftermath of that incident was that the British troops involved returned to Boston with thousands of colonial militia from around New England in pursuit. Rather than disperse, the militia took up positions around Boston and stayed there in what looked like a siege without artillery (at the time). It was the colonial’s occupation of the high ground in Charlestown (Bunker and Breed’s Hill) just two months after Lexington and Concord that caused the British to attack. While the British eventually took the hill, it was at such great cost in casualties that it caused even those in England who sympathized with the colonists to believe a state of war existed. The high casualties of Bunker Hill also dissuaded the British commanders in Boston from making any additional attempts to break the siege. That failure to break out, plus the colonial’s acquisition of artillery during the winter courtesy of Henry Knox and Fort Ticonderoga, caused the British and their Loyalist followers to evacuate the city in March of 1776. The Loyalists who departed, never to return, were the city’s elite. Into the void thus created moved the second echelon of Massachusetts elite, a group that had until then been centered in Newburyport at the mouth of the Merrimack River. One of the leaders of this new group of Massachusetts elites was John Lowell whose son, Francis Cabot Lowell, went on to create the first full-scale textile mill in America in Waltham in 1814. It was the ideas of Francis Cabot Lowell that were transmitted here in the early 1820s which is why our city bears his name. Had the Loyalists never left Boston, the Lowell family might never achieved the financial and social prominence that permitted young Francis to formulate and then implement his vision of large scale textile production.
From the archives:
MassMoments reminds us that on this day – June 17, 1825 – on the 50th anniversary of the battle the cornerstone was laid for the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Daniel Webster, seen by some as the greatest orator in U.S. history was the master of ceremonies. He exhorted American “to make a thriving democracy and a strong union a living memorial to the men who had died there.”
…in 1825, at the laying of the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument, Daniel Webster addressed a crowd of 100,000, including 190 veterans who had survived the first major battle of the Revolution — an encounter between colonial militiamen and a larger number of better-trained and equipped British Regulars. Eventually the Redcoats prevailed, but half their men were killed or wounded in the process. The militiamen suffered high casualties, too, but they — and people throughout the colonies — took heart from the strong defense they mounted. Fifty years later, “on the ground distinguished by their valor … and the shedding of their blood,” Webster called on Americans to make a thriving democracy and a strong union a living memorial to the men who had died there.
Learn even more from the National Park site here: http://www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhm.htm
The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.
There was a time when former Congressman Barney Frank said you couldn’t pay him enough for sitting on a panel with Karl Rove. As it turns out, he mused, “you can.” Frank is doing well on the speaking circuit but returned to his roots on Friday, speaking to the New England Council. The long-time Congressman hasn’t lost his fast ball.
“The notion that Social Security won’t ‘be there’ is the dumbest thing anyone can say.” It’s good for another 20 years, plenty of time to remediate any shortfall. He opposes further hikes in the retirement age (now 67), noting the physical impact on many, including, for example, women who wait tables for 30-40 years or men who do construction work.
Nor would he tinker with the formula for adjusting cost-of-living increases (so-called chained CPI), something to which some have become resigned, but he makes a clear case for why we shouldn’t throw in the towel. “Don’t tell me that people getting $1500-$1600 a month” can make a go of it. He prefers the strategies of increasing taxes on for those earning more than $75,000 (in addition to Social Security) even to the point of eliminating Social Security benefits for the wealthy. He’d lower the floor for increasing income taxes from the $400,000 floor that President Obama supported to the $250,000 floor that candidate Obama favored. That will be a tough thing for a lot of middle class families to swallow. Finally, he’d also lift the tax base on the income on which Social Security taxes are imposed (now at $113,700), which would be a lot more palatable. Would that those still in Congress would discuss the specifics!
He reflected on the importance of the Dodd-Frank bill and shared some of the back stories in getting the comprehensive legislation passed. More importantly, Frank said he expects the implementation of the included Volcker rule by the end of the year. (Recommended by former Fed head Paul Volcker, it will limit risky investments by banks.)
While legitimately concerned by federal debt, Frank urges that, short-term, further budget restrictions be deferred. Over the long haul, he still feels cuts to the military can help with the deficit and can be sensibly made. We can reduce the military budget by $100 billion a year without weakening our nation. ”Terrorists are not the existential threat of the Nazis and the Communists,” he observed, noting that “We are not the indispensible nation any longer.” Others can and must step up to the plate. ”Even the best military in the world can’t bring coherence to an incoherent society.” (He faults Obama, for example, for trying to mediate between Sudan and South Sudan.) “We have to be more realistic about our needs and capacities.” While Frank had opposed sequestration, as he views the impact of sequestration cuts in the military, “no American will be one inch less safe.”
Not surprisingly, Frank observed that one of the single greatest reasons for Washington dysfunction is the filibuster. To those who defend it because it is a tradition, he recalled the words of Winston Churchill fighting those who resisted reorganizing the Royal Navy on the basis of tradition: “The traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash.”
In addition to cashing in on the speaking circuit, Frank is writing a book. I look forward for it to be published. For all his curmudgeon-like qualities and, for many years, not infrequent rudeness, Frank will continue to be missed for his intelligence, incisive wit, and ability to work across the aisle for legislative effectiveness.
I welcome your comments in the section below.
These Bruins are fun to watch. The first two games of the NHL championship series have been as good a display of hockey as I remember seeing. One of the TV announcers quoted a writer who declared, “If these two teams played 100 games, each would win 50.” Maybe so. Maybe so. I like that these are full squads competing—and not one or both sides boasting a superstar with the rest of the players in tow. There is a balance of talent on the benches that makes the effort more satisfying. Tonight the hero was Daniel Paille, a winger on a supporting line. He and Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly stormed back against the Blackhawks after a first period when goalie Rask said it seemed like Chicago had more players than Boston for the first 20 minutes. The B’s were out-shot 19 to 4, or close to that. Kelly pushed in the tying goal and Paille whipped a wrist shot into the net for the overtime win. Now it’s on to Boston for two games. Buckle your seat belts.
Congratulations to the organizers of today’s Lowell African Festival for another wonderful event. After a long string of nasty weather, they could not have had a better day for the festival weather-wise. I stopped by late this afternoon and found a big crowd enjoying the steady stream of live music and well-stocked food booths.