The front cover of today’s Globe food section carries a picture of a young man munching on a delicious-looking chocolate frosted doughnut that made me want to run out and buy a half-dozen. The accompanying story discusses the “best” independent doughnut shops in Greater Boston which got me wondering which place has the best doughnuts in Greater Lowell. When I was younger, my two favorites were Mary Lou’s on Chelmsford Street and Eat-a-Donut at Liberty and School. They’re both gone now and I’m more likely to grab a muffin with a coffee than a doughnut. Still, every once in a while, a freshly cooked, sugary and sticky doughnut would be nice. Any suggestions?
On this day March 9, 1862 – one of the most famous naval battles in history took place. This batlle between the iron-clads – the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia (formerly the U.S.S. Merrimack*) “ushered in a new era in naval warfare.”
History.com offers this account of the battle and the circumstances:
One of the most famous naval battles in history occurs as the ironclads Monitor and Virginia fight to a draw off Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ships pounded each other all morning but the armor plates easily shed the cannon shots, signaling a new era of steam-powered iron ships.
The C.S.S. Virginia was originally the U.S.S. Merrimack, a forty-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Confederates captured it and covered it in heavy armor plating above the waterline. Outfitted with powerful guns, the Virginia was a formidable vessel when the Confederates launched her in February 1862. On March 8, the Virginia sunk two Union ships and ran one aground off Hampton Roads.
The next day, the U.S.S. Monitor steamed into the bay. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the vessel had an unusually low profile, rising from the water only 18 inches. The flat iron deck had a 20-foot cylindrical turret rising from the middle of the ship; the turret housed two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. The shift had a draft of less than 11 feet so it could operate in the shallow harbors and rivers of the South. It was commissioned on February 25, 1862, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay just in time to engage the Virginia.
At 9:00 am, the duel began and continued for four hours. The ships circled one another, jockeying for position as they fired their guns. The cannon balls simply deflected off the iron ships. In the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the short reign of terror that the Confederate ironclad had brought to the Union navy.
A further note:
Both ships met ignominious ends. When the Yankees invaded the James Peninsula two months after the battle at Hampton Roads, the retreating Confederates scuttled their ironclad. The Monitor went down in bad weather off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at the end of the year. Though they had short lives, the ships ushered in a new era in naval warfare.
The Lowell connection:
Merrimack was launched by the Boston Navy Yard June 15, 1855 and commissioned February 20, 1856 with Captain Garrett J. Pendergrast in command. She was the second ship of the Navy to be named for the Merrimack River… (My bold)
On the April 20, before evacuating the Navy Yard (at Norfolk) the U.S. Navy burned Merrimack to the waterline and sank her to preclude capture. The Confederacy, in desperate need of ships, raised Merrimack and rebuilt her as an ironclad ram…. Commissioned as CSS Virginia February 17, 1862, the ironclad was the hope of the Confederacy to destroy the wooden ships in Hampton Roads and to end the Union blockade which had already seriously impeded the Confederate war effort.
This painting fascinated President Barack Obama yesterday during his visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Thomas Sully of Philadelphia painted this scene of George Washington preparing his men to cross the Delaware River on a frigid December 25, 1776 night. The original painting measures 17X12 and weighs 1000 lbs. It is title “The Passage of the Delaware”…it is easy to see why it captured the attention of the president.
Tony Sampas provides a night-time view of the Boston and Maine locomotive that’s permanently parked on Dutton Street near Merrimack.
Prof. Margaret Knight, UMass Lowell
The hugely successful Lunchtime Lectures series at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center resumes on Monday, March 28, at 12 noon, with Prof. Margaret Knight of the UMass Lowell Dept. of Nursing taking a close look at “Diversity in Health Care Professions,” an important topic as hospitals, medical centers, clinics, and others in the health care field seek to better meet the needs of the public and to have their organizations reflect the communities they serve. Strategies for increasing diversity in one field should be of interest to people in other disciplines and professions, whether in banking, law, education, building trades, tech industries, etc.
This program, free and open to the public, begins promptly at 12 noon and includes a light buffet lunch. Reservations are required (seating is limited to 100 persons). To reserve a seat, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-934-3107.
The Lunchtime Lectures are a special program of the Moses Greeley Parker Lectures presented in cooperation with the UMass Lowell Center for Arts and Ideas and Middlesex Community College.
On Monday, April 25, at 12 noon, Prof. Regina Panasuk of UMass Lowell’s Graduate School of Education will talk about “Transforming Learning with Technology: Reality and Controversy,” a topic that should be of interest to anyone concerned about education, the benefits of new technology, and how people of all ages learn.
Prof. Regina Panasuk, UMass Lowell
Who says most people don’t care about History? In France, there’s a public argument going on about President Sarkozy’s proposal to create a new museum about his nation’s history. The crux of the debate seems to be a struggle over the story line. Read about it in the NYTimes here, and get the Times if you want more.