Daily Update: Sunday, January 15th, 2017

2nd Su nday in Ordinary Time and 01-15 - Boston Molasses Disaster

Today is the Second Sunday in Ordinary time. This is yet another day with no Saints to honor; we note that on this date in 1919 occurred the Boston Molasses Disaster (try saying that five times fast).

That day in Boston in 1919 was unusually warm, with the temperature at 40˚. At the time, molasses was the standard sweetener in the United States, and also fermented to produce rum and ethyl alcohol, the active ingredient in other alcoholic beverages and a key component in the manufacturing of munitions. The stored molasses was awaiting transfer to the Purity plant situated between Willow Street and what is now named Evereteze Way in Cambridge. Near Keany Square, at 529 Commercial Street, a huge molasses tank 50 feet tall, 90 feet in diameter, and containing as much as 2,300,000 gallons collapsed. Witnesses stated that as it collapsed, there was a loud rumbling sound like a machine gun as the rivets shot out of the tank, and that the ground shook as if a train were passing by. The collapse unleashed an immense wave of molasses between eight and fifteen feet high, moving at 35 mph, and exerting a pressure of two tons per square foot. The molasses wave was of sufficient force to break the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway’s Atlantic Avenue structure and lift a train off the tracks. Nearby, buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed. Several blocks were flooded to a depth of two to three feet. A truck was picked up and hurled into Boston Harbor. Approximately twenty-one people and several horses were killed (some were crushed and drowned by the molasses) and 150 people injured. The wounded included people, horses, and dogs; coughing fits became one of the most common ailments after the initial blast. First to the scene were 116 cadets under the direction of Lieutenant Commander H. J. Copeland from USS Nantucket, a training ship of the Massachusetts Nautical School (which is now the Massachusetts Maritime Academy), that was docked nearby at the playground pier. They ran several blocks toward the accident, and worked to keep the curious from getting in the way of the rescuers while others entered into the knee-deep sticky mess to pull out the survivors. Soon the Boston Police, Red Cross, Army and other Navy personnel arrived. Some nurses from the Red Cross dove into the molasses, while others tended to the wounded, keeping them warm as well as keeping the exhausted workers fed. Many of these people worked through the night. The injured were so numerous that doctors and surgeons set up a makeshift hospital in a nearby building. Rescuers found it difficult to make their way through the syrup to help the victims. It took four days before they stopped searching for victims; many dead were so glazed over in molasses, they were hard to recognize. It took over 87,000 man hours to remove the molasses from the cobblestone streets, theaters, businesses, automobiles, and homes. The harbor was still brown with molasses until summer; for decades afterward, residents claimed that on hot summer days the area still smelled of molasses. Local residents brought a class-action lawsuit, one of the first held in Massachusetts, against the United States Industrial Alcohol Company (USIA), which had bought Purity Distilling in 1917. In spite of the company’s attempts to claim that the tank had been blown up by anarchists (because some of the alcohol produced was to be used in making munitions), a court-appointed auditor found USIA responsible after three years of hearings, which revealed shoddy materials and shoddy building practices. USIA ultimately paid out $600,000 in out-of-court settlements, and did not rebuild the tank. The property became a yard for the Boston Elevated Railway (predecessor to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), and is currently the site of a city-owned baseball field. (So remember this, the next time you hear of something being “as slow as molasses in January”, which I will admit is a phrase I do not hear in SouthWestCentral Louisiana.)

Last night our LSU Tigers lost their College Basketball game with the Alabama Crimson Tide by the score of 66 to 81; our LSU Tigers (9-7, 1-4) will next play an Away College Basketball game with the Auburn Tigers (11-6, 1-4) on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017. And our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA game with the Chicago Bulls by the score of 98 to 107.

Upon waking up to get ready for work I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in Richard was on Pai Gow; I was the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow until they closed the Macau Mini Baccarat table; I then just broke the Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow tables until my last rotation, when I added the second Three Card Poker table to my string. On my breaks I continued reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King, and at the end of our shift my co-worker and friend Christine returned Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown to me.

On our way home we stopped at Wal-Mart, where I got Equate fungal cream to put on the ringworm-looking spot on Little Black’s ear. Once home I read the Sunday papers, then did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts. Our LSU Lady Tigers lost their College Basketball game with the #5 ranked South Carolina Lady Gamecocks by the score of 61 to 84; our LSU Lady Tigers (14-4, 3-2) will play a Home College Basketball game with the Kentucky Lady Wildcats (12-6, 3-2) on Thursday, January 19th, 2017. And I will now finish this Daily Update and take a bath, and while taking my bath I will continue reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King.

With no Saints to honor, tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and National Religious Freedom Day, and tomorrow is the 22nd Anniversary of the founding of what is now Coushatta Casino Resort, the place where Richard and I are gainfully employed. It is also the birthday of Amy, our son and daughter-in-law’s good friend (1985). We will work our eight hours, and I will be fasting after our shift starts at 3:00 am. On my breaks I will continue reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King. At 11:00 am I will have blood drawn for lab work ahead of my oncologist’s appointment on January 26th, and I will have my appointment at the Clinic with the Nurse Practitioner / Doctor. In the afternoon I will finish reading Finders Keepers by Stephen King and then do my Book Review of the book for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts. Our New Orleans Pelicans (16-25, 1-6) will be playing an Away NBA game with the Indiana Pacers (20-19, 5-3), and if the game is not finished by the time I do my Daily Update after Jeopardy! I will record the score of the game in Tuesday’s Daily Update.

Our Sunday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Brad Renfro, American actor. Born in 1982 as Bradley Renfro in Knoxville, Tennessee, he was raised from the age of five by his paternal grandmother. He played in a school production sponsored by DARE, a program in which young people learn about the danger of drugs. Discovered by Mali Finn, a casting director for Joel Schumacher, when he was 10, and cast by Finn for Schumacher’s The Client, Renfro acted alongside Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. Based on the bestselling John Grisham novel, it became one of the top-grossing films of 1994. In 1995 he won Hollywood Reporter’s “Young Star” award, and was nominated as one of People‘s “Top 30 Under 30.” That year, he played Huckleberry “Huck” Finn in 1995′s Tom and Huck with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He also won a second “Young Star” award that same year, as well as the “Young Artist” award, for his performance in The Cure. In 1996 he was cast in Sleepers, based on the novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra. The film was directed by Barry Levinson and also starred Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt. In 1998 he starred opposite Ian McKellen in Apt Pupil, directed by Bryan Singer. That same year, he played Leon S. Kennedy in a live-action preview of Resident Evil 2. On June 3, 1998, Renfro, then 15, and his 19-year-old cousin were arrested and charged with drug possession. He was carrying two small bags of cocaine in a cigarette box and a bag of marijuana in his sock. He avoided trial by agreeing to be screened randomly for drugs and evaluated for any substance abuse problems in his plea bargain. He auditioned for the part of Gabriel Martin in The Patriot (2000), which eventually went to Heath Ledger, On August 28, 2000, Renfro and his friend Harold Bond tried to steal a 45-foot yacht from Fort Lauderdale harbor. They were arrested at the same night and Renfro was charged with grand theft and criminal mischief. In January 2001 Renfro was sentenced to probation of two years and ordered to pay repair costs of the vessel to its owner and investigative costs to the Lauderdale Police Department. That same year he appeared in Ghost World and Bully. On January 14, 2002, Renfro violated his probation and was arrested on charges of public intoxication and driving without a valid license in Knoxville. He was put into a three-month substance abuse treatment program as a result. His acting career continued with appearances in 2002′s Confessions of an American Girl and 2005′s The Jacket. In December 2005 Renfro was arrested by LAPD officers during an undercover drug sweep of skid row and was charged with attempted possession of heroin, and a photograph showing him in handcuffs made the front page of the Los Angeles Times. Renfro admitted to a detective that he was using heroin and methadone. In court he pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to three years’ probation. In 2006 he appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and spent 10 days in jail for convictions of driving while under the influence and attempted heroin possession. In 2007 he completed filming on the film The Informers (2008), co-starring Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton (died 2008, of acute heroin / morphine intoxication): “If you’ve never tried drugs, DON’T. And if you have, pray.”

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