A new history book about Lowell by Richard P. Howe Jr and Chaim Rosenberg to be published on March 11, 2013. To order a copy and to learn about local readings and book signings, check out our Legendary Locals of Lowell page.
The Bread & Roses Centennial Committee will host a Benefit Concert on Sunday October 23, 2011 4:00 pm Temple Emanuel, Andover. Performing at the concert will be A Besere Velt: Yiddish Community Chorus of the Boston Workmen’s Circle which will be performing The Cloth From Which We Are Cut: A Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.
This is a Benefit Concert to support Centennial Events Across 2012 in commemoration of the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike, know these days as the Bread and Roses Strike. The lessons of 1912 still resonate today.
Mass Moments reminds us today of the first use of the so-called “iron lung” developed by Harvard’s Dr. Philip Drinker. He was responding to a terrifying new disease that was causing sudden paralysis. Doctors called it poliomyelitis — or polio. First used on this day October 12, 1928 at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Drinker’s machine was designed to do the work of the lungs while they were paralyzed. Vacuums connected to it worked like a huge bellows. Although polio was commonly called infantile paralysis because of its tendency to strike children, youth and adults were not immune to the disease. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was struck by polio as a young adult. Iron lungs were eventually built in all sizes. In the 1950s, a vaccine was developed finally developed to combat polio. The number of cases and the need for the iron lung plummeted. By the 1960s, patients with difficulty breathing were using a modern compact respirator. Today an “iron lung” is a museum piece!
…in 1928, Children’s Hospital in Boston was the scene of the first use of an “iron lung.” Developed by a young Harvard doctor, it was little more than a galvanized iron box, a bed, and two household vacuum cleaners. A little girl whose lungs were paralyzed by polio was placed in the airtight metal cylinder with only her head exposed. The 700-pound, 3X 7 foot, galvanized metal machine breathed for her. Vacuum pumps connected to it drew the air in and out of the cylinder, causing the child’s lungs to rise and fall in regular breaths. For the next 30 years, this invention would mean the difference between life and death for victims of polio. It breathed for them.
The Occupy Boston protest has been much in the news lately. The map above shows the portion of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in which most of the action has taken place. To the lower left is South Station; the darker gray shape across Summer Street is the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Just across Atlantic Avenue from both is Dewey Square, the public park in which the protestors have built their encampment. The green space extending up and right from Dewey Square is the start of the Greenway. The block depicted by the red star is where the one hundred plus arrests of protestors occurred the night before last. That’s the geography, the easy part.
The hard part is trying to understand just what is going on both in Boston and around the country. Why people are protesting against the established political and financial system should be no mystery to anyone. Former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, appearing on a program with Bill Maher and conservative pundit P J O’Rourke (seen in this video) put it pretty well when he said people are frustrated because no one has been held accountable for Wall Street’s wrecking of the world economy and that relying on the established political process for reform is futile since one party (Republican) is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Wall Street and “the other party (Democratic) caters to them as well.”
When people lose hope that the established system will treat them fairly is when large protest movements emerge. I think we have reached that stage. The election of Barack Obama gave many people hope that the reckless policies that have decimated the American middle class would change. But they did not change: the losing bets of the Wall Street risk takers were socialized. While the bankers who got us into this mess not only escaped indictment but were rewarded with tax payer supplemented bonuses, middle class benefits – student loans, the home mortgage interest deduction, social security and medicare – have been placed on the chopping block to pay for it. Where’s the fairness in that? With the Democrats having struck out in their opportunity to salvage the economy and the Republicans advocating a return to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place, what choice do people have but to toss aside standard operating procedures and to seek change through non-traditional means?
I’m certainly not anointing the Occupy Boston participants as modern day Sons of Liberty (and besides, after the Tea Party’s hijacking and distortion of the actions of our Revolutionary War generation, who wants to go down that path right now). Spending a few nights in a public park during a balmy stretch is easy; when the cold sets in as it soon shall, it’s not as easy to survive overnight outside. The protesters might physically depart but I believe they will be back in one form or another and their ranks will continue to grow because the established system offers no alternative to reasonable people. Will there be revolution? Unlikely. Throughout the history of the United States, as soon as a protest movement grows large enough, one or both of the major political parties co-opt the goals of that protest movement and the need for radical change is dissipated through the normal workings of the political process. That’s the way it has always worked and as bad as things are today, I’m confident that is what will happen now. However, the timetable is uncertain – several if not many years at a minimum. In the meantime, Boston city officials (acting through the police) and the protesters engage in an intricate public relations dance, each trying to gain the upper hand in the court of public opinion.
Why would anyone in New England watch soap operas when we have the Boston Red Sox? The Globe’s Bob Hohler gives us the first of what I expect to be many accounts of the collapse of the 2011 Red Sox in this front-page story. Among the highlights, or lowlights more accurately, Manager Terry Francona was distracted because (1) he split from his wife (2) he may have been abusing pain meds and (3) he was (justifiably) worried about the safety of his son and son-in-law, both Marine officers serving in Afghanistan. The owners were distracted by their outside interests, most notably the cable TV network NESN, their English soccer team, and their NASCAR race team.
The starting pitchers who were said to be drinking beer in the clubhouse during games rather than sitting on the bench supporting their teammates are identified as John Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey. They were also munching on take-out fried chicken and biscuits and playing video games. The three also neglected their conditioning as anyone who watched them pitch in September could attest. Wakefield? He was more concerned with his personal records than with the team’s well-being. Ellsbury? He always worked hard and had an MVP season, but lingering hard feelings from comments made by teammates during his injury-plagued 2010 season made him a clubhouse loner who rarely interacted with his teammates. And the list goes on and on.