The first American folk song written in English is a list of New England's Annoyances as felt by early Puritan colonists. One historian argues that the song was written in 1643 by Edward Johnson, who also founded the MA town of Woburn and authored the first printed history of New England. Another cover to listen to.
The Sinking of El Faro: On October 1, 2015, the container ship El Faro sailed directly into the path of Hurricane Joaquin. When it sank it took the lives of all 33 aboard, including eight New Englanders. Rachel Slade wanted to know what happened and why. You will not soon forget what she found.
"None of that for the Boxcar Children, who are so Puritan that Henry worries, out loud, that building a pool on Sunday would be amoral—before Jessie justifies the activity by saying that the pool will help them keep clean. " The Spirit Of Capitalism and 'The Boxcar Children' - Jia Tolentino for the 'New Yorker'
Mount Washington Observatory posts video of man being blown away by 109 mph wind [slyt]. "Weather Observers Mike Dorfman and Tom Padham took a brief break this morning to enjoy the windy and wintry conditions on the observation deck." [more inside]
TO THIS DAY, Caldwell isn't sure how authorities took down his drug cartel so swiftly. Perhaps it was the poorly stuffed shoebox-sized package wrapped in elaborate Chinese markings that sounded like a Molly-stuffed maraca moving down the post office's conveyor belt. "Good lord that boy was a bad criminal," says his mom, "and thank Jesus for that."How Reche Caldwell Googled his way from the Patriots to prison.
Private schools, painful secrets. More than 200 students have been victims of sexual abuse and harassment at New England private schools since the 1950’s. At least 90 students or their families have filed lawsuits or other legal claims. At least 67 private schools in New England have been affected by allegations of sexual abuse by employees disclosed over the past 25 years. The Boston Globe's Spotlight team investigates. CW: The link contains content regarding molestation and sexual abuse that is likely SFW for most but some may find disturbing.
they moved the lighthouse. The Gay Head lighthouse dates to 1796, has been the scene of horrific wrecks, and is in the major motion picture Jaws.
He has told me that his nurse had often told him, that ... she saw, from the chamber windows, those unhappy people hanging on Gallows’ Hill, who were executed for witches by the delusion of the times. Building on work done a century ago by lawyer and historian Sidney Perley, a team of historians and researchers has definitively identified the exact location where those found "guilty" in the Salem, MA witch trials of the seventeenth century were murdered, or in the words of many, "executed." [more inside]
Cotton Mather's career is defined by two episodes of mass panic. In 1721 he found himself the target of public anger in Boston when he advocated for small pox inoculation after inoculating his own children on the advice of his West African slave, Onesimus. Three decades earlier, in 1692, he was one of the instigators and defenders of the Salem Witch Trials. For more on the latter, visit the comprehensive Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive (previously).
Yesterday, "Surf and Turf" Joey DaSilva slid, slipped, and skipped to the end of a 45-foot-long telephone pole suspended over the water and covered with grease and slop. By grabbing the flag at the end, he became the 2015 Saturday champion of the annual Greasy Pole contest, making him one of the elite crew eligible to compete again on Fiesta Sunday for the rest of his life. It's one of the highlights of the unique St. Peter's Fiesta, an annual festival sponsored by the Italian-American fishing community of Gloucester, MA. The festival is a five-day celebration including a procession of St. Peter's effigy accompanied by bands and Sicilian chants, a Sunday mass on a large outdoor altar, seine boat races, a carnival, food, and drinking - lots of drinking. The annual festival is a defining force in Gloucester's tight-knit community, even as the fishing industry that generated it continues a long decline. [more inside]
Kiel James Patrick and his fiancée Sarah Vickers spend much of their time meticulously photographing the many splendors of a certain strain of New England life - the world of "prep". But are the people who appear in Sarah and Kiel's photos really their friends? Do Sarah and Kiel own these incredible homes? Or are they just taking social media marketing to a whole new level?
"In October 2013, Drs. Tim Perkins and Abby van Den Berg of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, revealed the findings of a study at a maple syrup conference in New Brunswick, Canada that sent waves through the industry. In 2010, they were studying vacuum systems in sap collection operations. Based on the observation that one of the mature trees in the study that was missing most of its top was still yielding high volumes of sap, they hypothesized that the maples were possibly drawing moisture from the soil and not the crown. Previously, they had presumed that the sap dripping from tap holes was coming from the upper portion of the tree. But, if the tree was missing most of its crown then, they surmised, it must be drawing moisture from the roots. ... They realized that their discovery meant sugarmakers could use saplings, densely planted in open fields, to harvest sap. In other words, it is possible that maple syrup could now be produced as a row crop like every other commercial crop in North America." [more inside]
On March 22, 1621, a Native American delegation walked through what is now southern New England to meet with a group of foreigners who had taken over a recently deserted Indian settlement. At the head of the party was an uneasy triumvirate: Massasoit, the sachem (political-military leader) of the Wampanoag confederation, a loose coalition of several dozen villages that controlled most of southeastern Massachusetts; Samoset, sachem of an allied group to the north; and Tisquantum, a distrusted captive, whom Massasoit had brought along only reluctantly as an interpreter. Massasoit was an adroit politician, but the dilemma he faced would have tested Machiavelli. About five years before, most of his subjects had fallen before a terrible calamity. Whole villages had been depopulated. It was all Massasoit could do to hold together the remnants of his people. Adding to his problems, the disaster had not touched the Wampanoag’s longtime enemies, the Narragansett alliance to the west. Soon, Massasoit feared, they would take advantage of the Wampanoag’s weakness and overrun them. And the only solution he could see was fraught with perils of its own, because it involved the foreigners—people from across the sea.
The Indians who first feasted with the English colonists were far more sophisticated than you were taught in school. But that wasn't enough to save them In addition to providing a beautifully written account of what happened, the article does something subtle but incredibly cool in using a Native centered perspective that really illuminates how dramatically silenced and othered Native voices are in other accounts.[more inside]
Transition Game: America’s first publicly out transgender high school coach is opening minds in the conservative rural town of Glocester, R.I.
What started as a report of a convenience store robbery near the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last night has sprawled into a chaotic manhunt for the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon. The deadly pursuit, involving a policeman's murder, a carjacking, a violent chase with thrown explosives, and the death of one suspect, has resulted in Governor Deval Patrick ordering an unprecedented lockdown of the entire Boston metropolitan area as an army of law enforcement searches house by house for the remaining gunman. The Associated Press has identified the duo as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, who remains at large. Both are immigrants from wartorn Chechnya in southwestern Russia. The Guardian liveblog is good for quick updates, and Reddit's updating crowdsourced timeline of events that has often outpaced mainstream media coverage of the situation. You can also get real-time reports straight from the (Java-based) local police scanner.
Kitchen Junkets in New England homes were a wintertime venue for live music and contra dance - a social dance form that's never really faded from the region's popular culture. Often credited with keeping the form alive, scholar/musician Ralph Page celebrated the kitchen junket and other contra traditions from 1949-1984 in his hand-printed magazine Northern Junket, available indexed and fully digitized via the University of New Hampshire. [more inside]
"'Personally, I think it’s slightly sad how easy it was to get,' Jessica says, referring to the building. She brightens. 'But everyone at Chipotle was really excited to get this spot because of the history, the chance to be a part of Boston’s history. This is the oldest retail location in Boston.'" (via)
Stephen Fry in America is a six part BBC television series of one hour shows in which Stephen Fry travels across the United States of America. He travels, mostly in a London cab, through all 50 U.S. states and offers his unique variety of insight as well as his infectious optimism and genuine love for many things American. New World, Deep South, Mississippi [US Edit], Mountains and Plains, True West, and Pacific. [more inside]
Ever heard of the Jewett City Vampires? Sure, you know about Salem and its witches, but New Englanders also went through several vampire panics that come far closer to the present than any Salem shenanigans. But who were the real people behind the modern legends? One common thread in the American myths: Tuberculosis (PDF).
Archibald Query 's creation, Marshmallow Fluff, followed a winding path to household name. Most famous as a component of the Fluffernutter sandwich, this icon of New England cuisine appears in hundreds of other recipes, including whoopie pies and Mamie Eisenhower's Never Fail Fudge. You can even try making it yourself. . Other homages include the pop-style "Fluffart" of Susan Olsen, perhaps better known to us as the Brady Bunch's Cindy; some video tributes, and the What the Fluff? Festival in Somerville, MA (previously),
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. So wrote John Updike in his moving tribute to Red Sox legend Ted Williams -- an appropriately pedigreed account for this oldest and most fabled of ballfields that saw its first major league game played one century ago today. As a team in flux hopes to recapture the magic with an old-school face-off against the New York
Highlanders Yankees, it's hard to imagine the soul of the Sox faced the specter of demolition not too long ago. Now legally preserved, in a sport crowded with corporate-branded superdome behemoths, Fenway abides, bursting with history, idiosyncrasy, record crowds, and occasional song. [more inside]
... [Sarah Orne] Jewett's gifts have always been recognized by a select few, and continue to be. [The Country of the] Pointed Firs, especially, was immediately recognized as a major achievement. Henry James called it, perfectly, “a beautiful little quantum of achievement.” Willa Cather listed it as one of her three great American novels...
The United States Secret Service is warning about an old scam that's recently popped up again in New England: black money. [more inside]
"We are under obligation to A. S. Partridge of Depeyster, who obtained the following incidents last summer from N. F. Swain, his neighbor. Mr. Swain is now upwards of ninety years old, and his memory of what transpired in his younger days is especially good, and the incidents, together with the dates, places and names were so impressed on his mind that they may be relied upon as authentic."
From the History of Hammond, New York, one of about 1500 Town Histories, courtesy of Ray's Place. [more inside]
From the History of Hammond, New York, one of about 1500 Town Histories, courtesy of Ray's Place. [more inside]
For all the faults of the poorhouse, the system it replaced was perceived to be even worse. In post-Revolution America, if you were poor, you could be "farmed out" at public auction to the lowest bidder. [more inside]
The Gravestone Girls collect and reproduce aged New England cemetery art without damaging the original stones. Not able to attend any of their classes? In the meantime here are some do's and don'ts about collecting rubbings, via the Association for Gravestone Studies.
His terrors are eternal, he's a master of cosmic horror, and now he can also liven up a dull trip to the North East: 6 Boring New England Destinations Made Awesome by H.P. Lovecraft
The New England Jazz History Database is an active and growing library of materials focused on the preservation and education of the History of Jazz in New England. [more inside]
'Artisanal butters' are favored and appreciated by cooks and gourmands -- especially those crafted by "garage entrepreneurs" from Maine [video]* and Vermont (churned by Diane St. Clair and favored by Thomas Keller at his noted restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se). Butters from Canada, France, Ireland and elsewhere are also cherished. [more inside]
In the past many folk rightfully pointed out that IHOP (International House of Pancakes) didn't have a restaurant in Vermont. Times have been a changin.' Last month, Vermont became the 50th and final state to welcome an IHOP. And, being in Vermont, "old fashioned corn syrup," masquerading as true maple syrup didn't make the grade. "The IHOP here is the only one of about 1,400 in the United States, Canada and Mexico to serve real maple syrup." The managers got permission from the company "with a special dispensation" to serve the real stuff. [more inside]
Tech Columnist Andy Ihnatko takes us along for the ride. For a recent trip from Kingston, RI to the East Village, Ihnatko set up a Nikon Coolpix 6000 to take a picture every 30 seconds - out the train window, then around his neck. The result is a great time lapse journey.
Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies—more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers. But principal Joseph Sullivan knows at least part of the reason there's been such a spike in teen pregnancies in this Massachusetts fishing town.
Beyond the McIntosh. The apple whisperer of New England.
Hurstwic is a loosely affiliated group based in New England with an interest in the societies and peoples who lived in Northern Europe during the Viking age. While no longer formally organized, they still have events, frequently at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester MA. [more inside]
"The sweet aroma of sap permeating the air, still harkens the arrival of Spring"* in New England, Canada and other U.S. states. The Eastern Woodland Indians discovered that maple sap cooked over an open fire produces a sweet sugar [video], resulting in maple syrup. Many associate the syrup with Quebec (which produces most of the world's supply) and Vermont where about "one of every four trees...is a maple."* Vermont even has a "maple cop." He enforces "Vermont's maple regulations for the state Agency of Agriculture, which strictly regulates how Vermont's most famous export is made, marketed and sold."* [more inside]
According to the breathless headline in the New York Times, it was "THE WORST STORM THE CITY HAS EVER KNOWN. BUSINESS AND TRAVEL COMPLETELY SUSPENDED. NEW-YORK HELPLESS IN A TORNADO OF WIND AND SNOW WHICH PARALYZED ALL INDUSTRY, ISOLATED THE CITY FROM THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, CAUSED MANY ACCIDENTS AND GREAT DISCOMFORT, AND EXPOSED IT TO MANY DANGERS." It became known as The Great Blizzard of 1888, and it occurred on this date, March 12, 1888. [more inside]
Slavery in the North is a website covering the 200-year history of slavery in the northern colonies in what would become the United States.
New England's Lost Ski Areas. The Northeast used to be littered with mom-and-pop-size ski areas, many of which have been consolidated into huge resorts, while others fell to development or just passed out of existence. This site serves as a repository for information, images, and reminiscinces. Links to other region's lost ski area sites, too. [more inside]
Northeast Historic Film is the best of quirky Maine. They archive home movies, collect postcards of New England movie houses, and study depictions of New England in major films. Browsing the list of collections is tantalizing; if only some of these were available as clips or on YouTube. They're one of many archives preserving home movies. Also.
The Dreaded Half Worcester warning: music is just one of the possible vexing configurations players encounter in candlepin bowling, a regional variation on traditional bowling that's unique to northern New England and maritime Canada. Developed in Worcester, MA, around 1880 (warning: more music), the game is played in gorgeous antique alleys dotted around New England and Nova Scotia, and features a 4 1/2" wooden or rubber ball, three rolls per frame or "box," and 15 and 3/4" narrow, cylinder-shaped pins that are the devil to knock down -- even though you can use the dead wood to knock other pins down, a score over 200 is extremely rare. Find some lanes and play or just take the quiz - like so many regional quirks, this one's undergoing a bit of a revival.
The cult of Dunkin' Donuts. Why New Englanders are devoted to Dunkin' Donuts. It's not only because of this.
A vanishing world... in a bowl of chowder. An extraordinary article by New York Times writer Molly O'Neill about how changes in the recipe for New England's favorite soup reveal sea changes happening at sea. [Images here.]
Parrot outrage! Though their existance is a bit of a curiousity, the fact that a population of parrots exists in the wild in southern New England isn't really news to anyone who visits this site frequently. But the way a local power company is choosing to deal with them is making news in southern Connecticut. The monk parakeet builds huge nests out of sticks and twigs, mostly in trees but sometimes on power poles. The large nests present a growing safety problem, often leading to transformer fires and explosions. It was recently reported in both major southern CT newspapers that United Illuminating has begun a secret program of dismantling nests found on power poles and sending the birds to the government for eradication. Previous programs in other states have ended the way this one appears headed: eventually, the utility gives way to public pressure and either leaves the nests intact or destroys the nests but not the birds themselves.
The Ames Fan Club documents the life of each of the deceased department stores following the dissolution of their corporate souls. From Gallipolis to West Hartford, the shells of Ames have been photographed and critiqued. Some have lain dormant, logos still peeking out from between overturned racks and offline registers. Some have found new lives, though while the buildings remain, the smell of "bargains by the bagful" will never return. If only we could all age as gracefully as the Agawam Ames.
Sarah Roberts vs. Boston In 1848, five-year-old Sarah Roberts was barred from the local primary school because she was black. Her father sued the City (.pdf file). The lawsuit was part of an organized effort by the African-American community to end racially segregated schools. The book "Sarah's Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America" tells the story of the case of Roberts v. City of Boston, that remains a little-known landmark in the civil rights movement.
The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February. -- J W Krutch
New England Ruins :: Photographs
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