April 18, 2012: February 22, 1979: Syrup Calamity

Another entry from the journal I kept in high school:

Dear Agnes,

          Okay. I’ve officially had enough of this.

          Mr. Golay made us listen for a full hour today to his lecture about The Great Boston Molasses Tragedy. I am not making this up. Apparently in 1919 a huge molasses tank exploded in Boston, sending a giant wave of molasses through the streets, killing all these people by choking them to death with molasses. Two million gallons of molasses!

          I mean, I’m sorry. Do I need to know this stuff? There’s all this talk about how important a well-rounded education is, but what the fuck am I going to do with this? Knowing that a whole town was wiped out by pancake syrup is not going to come in handy when I’m 35 and probably working some shit job. I do not think my boss is going to call me into his office one day and say, “Unless you can tell me about that exploding molasses thing, I’m going to have to fire you.”

          And I’m sorry. How the hell do you drown in molasses? How slow do you have to be moving to be overtaken by the slowest-moving substance in the world?

Death by molasses. Jesus Christ.

Rayon disco shirt, Sassoon jeans, arrowhead necklace, ennui.

Thing I Hate Today: The box of art supplies that fell off a shelf in the upstairs library closet and made a huge mess all over the floor.












6 Responses

  1. I love this. In a time warp, you and I would have been buds in high school.

  2. You missed a tag: sofa upholstery with matching curtains

  3. Reading this post, I suspected that your high school rant may have been an early foray down the ‘aggrandizement-as-a-literary-tool’ trail.
    To my surprise, news articles from 1919 recount the devestation caused by the 35 mph wave of molasses, with the Boston Globe reporting “21 people and several horses were killed”.
    Now I must rethink 30 years of assuming hyperbole was always at play. Where are those old issues of “Previews and Reviews”…?

  4. I did not know about this sweet catastrophe. I’m assuming Mrs. Butterworth was behind it. And who is Fruit Pie the Magician? That’s a great screen name.
    Things I Hate Today: Using cardboard paper towel tubes as shelf supports. Robrt has no one to blame but himself for shelves collapsing. This is my disclaimer, since I actually caused that shelf, and art supplies, to fall.

  5. I LOVE this, and remember you emailing me this essay years ago when I read that STUPID book about it (“Dark Tide,” was it?) and reeled when it said that even today, on a particularly warm afternoon, the sweet scent of molasses still…


    • I read “Dark Tide” a couple of months ago. The hero is the tank watchman, or something, who knew the thing was going to explode but the big corporation wouldn’t spend the money to fix it so they fired him. Ultimately it’s another story about the plight of the poor and immigrants. The Titanic on land. And with molasses instead of water. Otherwise, same thing.

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