During a late nineteenth century canoe craze, recreational canoeing became Boston’s hottest leisure time activity. Young lovers took advantage of the privacy and intimacy of a canoe to engage in a little bit of illicit romance, leading a humorless state police agency to ban kissing in canoes on the Charles River.
Despite our liberal reputation today, for years Boston was a bastion of official censorship. Authors and playwrights whose works were considered obscene had to create a watered-down “Boston version.” The Watch and Ward Society decided what art, theater, and literature was permissible, and what would be Banned in Boston!
The 1942 fire at Boston’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub killed a staggering 492 people, making it the deadliest fire in Boston history and one of the deadliest fires in US history. For Boston, it is the deadliest modern disaster of any type. Only the smallpox epidemics of the early 1700s and the 1918 Spanish flu rival it for loss of life.
This week’s show is about Charles “King” Solomon, also known as Boston Charlie, whose criminal enterprise placed him at the head of organized crime in Boston throughout the prohibition era. He reached influence at the national level, set policies in play that led to tragedy at the Cocoanut Grove, and in death, left a wake that may have led to the rise of Whitey Bulger.
With a partial “Muslim Ban” in place, it’s important to remember that vilifying “enemy aliens” is one of the darkest chapters of our nation’s history. A hundred years ago, Americans were all too willing to imprison or even deport their neighbors of German descent. Here in Boston, the preeminent director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra was affected, along with almost a third of the orchestra’s musicians.
Everyone knows the story of the Boston Strangler. Fewer people know the tale of The Giggler, Boston’s lesser known serial killer. The victims fit no pattern, they were a young boy and girl, a grown man, and an old lady. The Giggler would simply feel what he described as an irresistible urge to kill.
Wonder Woman debuted in a December 1941 issue of All Star Comics, just as the attack on Pearl Harbor was drawing the US into World War II. In the comics, Wonder Woman’s origin story said that she was born to a race of Amazon women from Paradise Island, then disguised herself as the Boston career woman Diana Prince. In real life, Wonder Woman was inspired by early feminist fights for suffrage and access to contraception, and she was the brainchild of one very unique family who called Cambridge home. Wonder Woman drew as much inspiration from pinup girls in Esquire Magazine as she did from the suffragists who chained themselves to the gates of Harvard Yard and the founders of Planned Parenthood. And she was directly inspired by the women in her creator’s life. Her trademark exclamation “Suffering Sappho,” was taken from one of these women, and her looks and bulletproof “bracelets of submission” were taken from the other.
This week, we take an in depth look at the 1919 Boston http://healthsavy.com/product/soma/ Police Strike and ensuing riots. In the post-WW1 inflation of the summer of 1919, Boston police officers were earning wages set in 1857. Around the country, workers were striking, while the upper classes feared a Bolshevik-influenced revolution. When 72% of the police force walked off the job, lawlessness ruled in Boston for several days. Governor Calvin Coolidge sent in the state militia, and emerged a hero, paving his way to the White House. Listen to the story!
This week’s episode examines two people who chose to live as hermits in and around Boston. When you think of a hermit, your mental image is probably a monk or an aging eccentric in a cabin in the woods somewhere. But our subjects this week sought out that kind of solitary existence among the hustle and bustle of the growing city of Boston in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. James Gately was known as the Hermit of Hyde Park, and Ann Winsor Sherwin was the Hermit of Boston Harbor. Listen to the show to meet these unique characters!
On August 22, 1927, Bartolomeo Sacco and Nicola Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair at Boston’s Charlestown State Prison. They were foreigners, accused of murder and ties to a shadowy terrorist group. Yet there were worldwide protests, and their funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Boston, with as many as 200,000 Bostonians in attendance. On the fiftieth anniversary of their deaths, Governor Dukakis officially cleared their names and declared a day of remembrance for them. How did these men go from hated foreign http://healthsavy.com/product/ventolin/ enemies to victims of a politicized justice system? Find out in this week’s episode!