Showing posts from October, 2010

Triangle Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was one of the worst fires in the history of New York City.  It took up the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors of the Asch Building.  The factory produced women's blouses (also referred to as "shirtwaists").  The factory employed about 500 workers, mostly young immigrant women, who worked nine hours a day on weekdays plus seven hours on Saturdays. On the afternoon of Saturday, March 25, 1911, just as the workday ended, a fire flared up in a scrap bin under one of the cutters' tables on the eighth floor, likely caused by the disposal of an unextinguished match or cigarette butt.  Although smoking was banned in the factory, cutters were known to sneak cigarettes, exhaling the smoke through their lapels to avoid detection.  No accusation of arson was made in this specific case, however, as both owners of the factory were in attendance and had invited their children to the factory on that afternoon. A bookkeeper on the eighth floor warn

The Love Story of Lancelot and Guinevere

One of the saddest loves tories is that of Lancelot and Guinevere. One of the greatest knights of the roundtable of King Arthur was Lancelot.  He was loyal, wise, strong, and kind.  But unfortunately, he fell in love with Queen Guinevere.  They tried to keep their love a secret from the king, but eventually, it became known and was a catalyst for the Round Table to fall.  Like most romances, their love bloomed slowly.  At first, Guinevere ignored Lancelot.  But not for long and she soon succumbed to his charms and they became lovers.   Another knight, Sir Meliagaunt grew suspicious and e confronted Sir Lancelot in the presence of the King and Queen.   This led Lancelot to issue a challenge to Meliagaunt to dispute the charge.  But in such a contest, Sir Lancelot became the victor when he cleaved his oponent's head in half.  Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere's honour were restored. But rumours continued to abound and several other knights became suspicious

The Turning of the Tide by Liz Shakespeare

Review by Sheila R. Lamb The Turning of the Tide by Liz Shakespeare is an immensely engaging story that captures the reader from the first page. Selina is a destitute, unwed mother, forced into the Bideford Workhouse. Trapped by her unfortunate circumstances, she – like all the mothers in the workhouse – lives for the few hours a week that she can visit her sons. Dr. Ackland, a visiting physician to the workhouse, feels compassion for Selina when her eldest son dies. He employs her as a maid in his own home, much to the consternation of his wife, Sophia. Although their home is a better environment than the institutionalized prison-like life of the workhouse, Selina longs for her only son, Will, who is sent to live with her parents in the neighboring village of Clovelly. Selina, timid and skittish from the abuse she has endured, faces societal condemnation for having two children out of wedlock.  Her sharpest critic is Sophia Ackland, although Sophia’s harsh judgments are internal. W

The Great Boston Molasses Disaster 1919

On an unusually warm day on January 15, 1919, the Purity Distilling Company faced disaster. Molasses, a favourite sweetener was being stored there. It was popular because it could be fermented into rum and ethyl alcohol. The rather large tank was awaiting transfer to the Purity plant situated between Willow Street and what is now named Evereteze Way in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  It suddenly collapsed. The rumble resounded loudly and shook the ground.  Huge waves of molasses between broke the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway's Atlantic Avenue structure and lifted a train off the tracks. Buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed. Waist deep molasses covered the street, sweeping and covering people and animals in its wake. The Boston Globe reported that people and vehicles alike "were picked up by a rush of air and hurled many feet." 21 people and several horses were killed, most crushed and drowned by the molasses. Coughing fits became on

Loi Chan

To see her on land, Loi Chai-san looked like a normal, unassuming, young woman. She wore delicate silks and satins and kept her hair tidily knotted at the nape of her neck. But on water, aboard one of her 12 armed junks she inherited from a pirate named Honcho Lo, off came the silks and satins and on came the garb of man - pants and jackets. Transformed, she became Queen of the Macao Pirates, ruthlessly scouring the waters around Hong Kong during the 1920’s. Pillaging cargo and kidnapping wealthy people and holding them for ransom was how she earned her fame and amassed her wealth. She adored her fame and encouraged it. A journalist by the name of Aleko E. Lilius paid her $43 dollars per day to follow her and write about her exploits in an article entitled “I Sailed with Chinese Pirates.” Whenever she attempted a raid, two women accompanied her and acted as a mediary between Loi Chai-san and her crew of male pirrates. Loi never spoke directly to the men of her crew and they wer