Readers of your amusing piece on Boston (“400 Years of Failure,” July 31) may wonder, as I used to, why there was a giant tank of molasses looming over a residential/industrial section of Boston in 1919. The answer is that the molasses was used to manufacture industrial alcohol for the war effort. By 1919, the war was over, but the molasses remained. Although this disaster sounds comical, the ways in which people died in the flood were terrible and agonizing. I recommend Stephen Puleo’s excellent account of the disaster, Dark Tide.
Linda C. Morrison / Newton
You forgot one — and it’s a biggie. In 1636, Roger Williams, facing banishment by religiously intolerant Puritans for “sedition and heresy,” fled south to Narragansett Bay, where he established the city of Providence and what is now the state of Rhode Island. He advocated for religious freedom and separation of church and state — novel ideas at the time, but now firmly entrenched in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. All of that could have been yours, Massachusetts, but instead it represents just another example of bad decision making.
Donald J. Farish / President, Roger Williams University / Bristol, Rhode Island
I found the cover more enjoyable than the article.
Anthony Gilarde / Ashland
Regarding the molasses debacle, Michael Andor Brodeur wrote that the company “blamed the disaster on Italian anarchists — so there’s a bonus spoonful of good old-fashioned racism.” Anarchists or not, Italian is a nationality, not a race.
Diane Patenaude / Plainville
HEALTH CARE WOES
I suffered the same time waste and frustration (“This Is What Happens When You Try to Be a Savvy Health Care Consumer,” Perspective, July 31). Who is the patient today? The patient is a number. Thanks to the shortsighted vision of insurance companies, the doctors need a full staff of administrators, and the insurance companies need a full staff of customer service intervention specialists. If the bean counters and bottom-line analysts were to actually study the action-reaction of the system, changes could be made.
Jonathan Kirshtein / Framingham
I was pleased to read Jeffrey Krasner’s essay. I am retiring and getting my own health plan, and I can’t get the same answer from anyone. I hope to live long enough to see real change in this broken system.
Elvira Gentile / Hudson
Thank you for Alysia Abbott’s splendid piece about her “Munca” (Connections, July 31). Quite an exquisite bit of writing. I was reminded of the small things about my own grandma, long gone. Like eating fudge, these delicious sentences.
Marilynn SteinLangley / West Medford
Beautiful story told beautifully.
Paul Morelli / Yarmouth Port