June 24th, 2010
Health officials have declared that California is experiencing an epidemic of pertussis, better known as whooping cough. So far this year California alone has experienced 910 confirmed cases and there are 600 potential further cases under investigation. Five infants have died so far, all under the age of three months. Considering how deadly pertussis is to very young children, that number will only increase.
This is not the first time in recent years the state has had a problem with whooping cough. Why California? The answer is simple: California is the center of the American anti-vaccine movement.
The principle behind vaccines is very simple: inject the body with something resembling a virus or other disease-causing microorganism. This allows the body’s immune system to develop antibodies that will “recognize” the actual virus or microbe and will kill it before the body can be infected. Vaccines have been hugely successful; after clean water they are the most successful public health measure in human history.
However, vaccines have always been somewhat controversial and still are today, in spite of modern vaccines being proven to be entirely safe. The modern anti-vaccine movement can be traced to a 1998 paper in The Lancet by the British surgeon (yes, surgeon) Andrew Wakefield linking the MMR vaccine (mumps, measles, and rubella) with autism. read more »
June 24th, 2010
Mass Moments reminds us that today is the 335th anniversary of the deadliest war (in terms of percentage of population killed) ever fought on the North American continent. The town of Groton, just west of here, was the frontier of English inland expansion and the conflict reached into the town of Chelmsford. Besides being a fascinating and little-remembered war fought within New England, the consequences of King Phillip’s War had a profound impact on the founding of Lowell many years later.
In 1655, families from Woburn and Concord petitioned the legislature to create a town at the confluence of the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. This site was attractive because the native inhabitants had already cleared much of it of trees and were using it for farm land. The Native Americans had a powerful ally in the Reverend John Elliot, who also petitioned the legislature to charter a town for the Native Americans along the banks of the Concord and Merrimack. On May 29, 1655, the legislature did just that, creating Wamesit for the Native Americans and Chelmsford (a few miles up-river and not yet cleared of trees) to the English petitioners.
Both groups lived in harmony until King Phillip’s War. That costly conflict transformed the attitude of the colonial legislature towards the Native Americans from one of paternalism to one set on extinction. All Native Americans who weren’t killed or did not flee to Canada were imprisoned and then sold into slavery. Soon after the war’s end, residents of Chelmsford began using the Wamesit land (which is today’s downtown Lowell) for grazing animals and planting crops. This pattern of usage continued until 1725 when Samuel Pierce, one of the few people living in the Wamesit area, was elected to represent Chelmsford in the Legislature. When he showed up in Boston, however, his colleagues refused to seat him on the grounds that he did not live within the district he represented. To remedy this problem (and the fact that the people living in Wamesit refused to pay taxes to Chelmsford), the Legislature annexed to Chelmsford the Wamesit area, renaming it East Chelmsford. read more »
June 24th, 2010
Woodman's of Essex
I recently found myself near the mouth of the Merrimack River with some free time, so I headed south and picked up Route 133 East, bound for the town of Essex. For years I’ve heard about Woodman’s,
a restaurant specializing in fried clams that is featured in the book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” but I’d never been before.
I arrived early in the day before the crowd began arriving. You order your food in one spot, your drink (a large Coke for me) in another, and pick up your order in a third. The modest-sized building has two dozen wooden booths with more seating outside. I ordered the fried clam plate that came piled with clams, french fries and onion rings (much of which I had already eaten before snapping the picture below). All were crunchy outside and soft inside, cooked perfectly. It was a simple meal, wonderfully prepared, well worth the detour.
Fried clam plate from Woodman's
June 24th, 2010
Pawtucket Falls post card image /UML Center for Lowell History
The other day it was people from Lawrence weighing-in on the Enel North America plan to regulate the flow of water over the historic Pawtucket Falls with a pneumatic crest gate, or “inflatable bladder,” installation system on the Pawtucket Dam. As noted in Jen Myers story in Monday’s Lowell Sun here - two years ago, Enel installed crest gates at the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence, a 162-year-old hydropower dam, with no controversy. Rather than opposition it was “bouquets and flowers.” Even those purporting to represent Lawrence history sided with Enel - scoffingly noting that “the Stone Dam wasn’t an artifact. ”
Tonight according to a story in today’s Nashua Telegram written by David Brooks and available here - there will be a hearing in Nashua on the Lowell dam proposal. As with the SUN story the position, the reasoning and spin of Enel North America – the subsidiary of a global company – is well represented with extensive quotes from General Manager Victor Engel and addtionally from consultant Bob LaRochelle in the SUN piece. To the SUN “Engel concedes that his company’s relationship with Lowell is a little more rocky than with Lawrence.”
The Lowell City Council responding to “upstream” neighborhood concerns about raised river levels endangering their homes voted against the bladder proposal. Prior approval is need by a number of Lowell city commissions before the project can move forward. Leading the opposition is the Lowell National Historical Park. Superintendent Michael Creasey recently wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Board of Energy & Environmental Affairs noting that the plan “eliminates an essential feature characterizing the historic dam” and would “substantially change the historic appearance and functionality of this National Historic Landmark.” If you’ve taken the Lowell Mill and Canal Tour you know that the park uses the many canals in and around the dam as part of its water tours of the popular park which details the city’s Industrial Revolution past. The park is vested historically and financially in the Lowell story – and the Merrimack River and the Canalways are key to the story. Many local groups concerned with history and preservation have also voiced concerns over the project.
So residents of Nashua and that part of Southern New Hampshire get to join the conversation tonight. Read both articles and stay tuned for more about the dam project. I was up by the Pawtucket Falls and Dam today – and the new flashing is looking pretty good!
June 24th, 2010
Thanks to Dick for his report on planning guru Frank Keefe’s nutshell version of the Lowell revitalization story and success recipe. Bill Lipchitz’s comment about the Center City Committee being formed in 1972 added a key benchmark. Since he was there, maybe Bill can clarify the connection between the CCC (still active) and the now-dissolved Human Services Corporation (HSC), established by Pat Mogan and friends in 1971. Frank Keefe credited the CCC with getting everyone around a big table for the first time. I assume, though, that CCC was not incorporated as a nonprofit organization until later. This may explain why the Human Services Corporation was the recipient of crucial early funding from the New England Regional Commission and Community Development Block Grant program between 1972 and 1979 that paid for so much of the planning work that went into the early development of the “urban cultural park” and later “historical park” project.
The Human Services Corporation, which disbanded around the time that the Greater Lowell Community Foundation was established, evolved from the work of Pat Mogan and company in the Lowell Model Cities Education Component and its community outreach group, the Acre Model Neighborhood Organization (AMNO). HSC’s purpose was to create and support “concrete economic and social programs that would instill a sense of hope and determination in area residents.” Anyone who is interested can read more about the history of HSC in an essay I wrote for an exhibit at the Mogan Cultural Center in 1991. The exhibit brochure is on the UMass Lowell Center for Lowell History website. Read it here.
June 24th, 2010
Pat Patriot is back!
Pat Patrick along with the rest of the vintage New England Patriots red and white uniforms will return in 2010 as the teams “alternate uniform”. Patriot officials announced their decision to phase out the silver jersey uniforms and replace them with…are you ready, uniforms styled after the 1985 Championship team.
Of all things…the 1985 Pats, what a memorable year.
Actually, the only thing I really remember about the 1985 Patriots season is Super Bowl XX.
I don’t care how hard you try, you can’t forget it, unfortunately.
Who could forget Tony Eason leading our “lambs to slaughter” in Super Bowl XX. What was the final score, 98 to 3 or something?
So why bring back the 1985 uniforms?
How bad was the 1985 Super Bowl lose? Prepare yourself…
Do you remember Walter Payton fumbled early in the first quarter on his own 21 yard line. Eason then threw three incomplete passes and the Pats settled for a field goal.
Hey, remember how you (and I) thought Pat Patriot and the red and white uniforms had a chance? Not!
…and remember how this field goal was the last time the Pats scored in Super Bowl XX until the fourth quarter when Mike Ditka substituted his starters with Chicago High School’s Freshmen football team?
Why, why bring back Pat Patriot and the 1985 uniforms?
Every time I see Pat Patriot all I can think of is the Bear’s awesome rush forcing Tony Eason to dive to the ground before anyone even hit him. Honest, I can see him in my mind’s eye right now!
Yes, the 1985 Super Bowl brings back a lot of memories… and all are bad.
Do you remember…the Pats turned the ball over four times on fumbles?
Do you remember Bears QB Jim (obnoxious) McMahon tossing a 60 yard bomb to Willie Gault for a score?
Do you remember some obscure third string safety intercepting Steve Grogan for a touch-down?
Do you remember Bear’s Tackle Henry Waechter scoring a safety?
Do you remember Tony Eason was sooooo bad coach Ray Berry took him out in the second quarter?
Do you…do you remember?
Why, please tell me why Bob Kraft would bring back Pat Patriot and those Parilli red and Plunkett white uniforms?
I know not what others may do, but as for me…give me the silver jerseys or give me the Giants.