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The Boston Molassacre

On January 15, 1919, Bridget Clougherty was in the kitchen of her North End, Boston home mixing cookie dough. She called to her son upstairs.

“I’m out of syrup! Sneak over and bring me back a cup!”

Stephen had been unemployed for months and spent most of his days helping his mother around the house. He dawdled in bed for a few minutes before getting up and found her impatiently tapping her foot at the bottom of the stairs. She was holding out a wooden mug and he took it from her without a word. Dragging his feet he turned towards the distilling company on the banks of the River Charles.

As the police station came into view from behind the massive storage tank, Stephen was startled by a loud rumbling. He’d never served in the war but he was fairly sure it was the sound of a machine gun. Instinctively, he wheeled around and began running home, calling out to his mother on the way.

Bridget heard the yelling and felt the house shake. She poked her head out the kitchen window and gasped. Her son was running towards her and screaming out, “Shootout at the police station!” Behind him was a massive wave. He never knew what hit him. In a split second he was submerged and pounded against the cobblestones below.

A moment later, the Clougherty house was ripped from its foundation and pushed down Copps Hill Terrace before it finally flipped over and crumbled beneath the thick brown tide.

It wasn’t a shootout and it wasn’t a tidal wave from the river. The echo that Stephen heard before he perished was the sound of the rivets bursting from the leaky tank that held 2,300,000 gallons of molasses. The 35 mph 10’ wave killed 21 unsuspecting people.


"This Thing of Ours"

Two detectives sat on a bench near the cathedral in New Orleans pretending to read their newspapers. Jackson Square was crowded with people out for their morning strolls before the blazing sun came out to chase them all back inside on this July 5th, 1881. Occasionally, one of the detectives would glance up and check for a signal from the umbrella vender.

“Would ya’ listen, Patty,” O’Hara said, “all these smelly dagos here speaking their gibberish...”

Patrick grunted, “Aye, it’s gettin’ so you wouldn’t even know we was in America.”

They both sighed and went back to pretending to read their papers.

O’Hara leaned back and said, “Y’know, not all these guineas is degenerate, the trouble is tellin’ the good ones from the...”

Patrick cut him off with a nudge to the ribs. Their informant, the umbrella man, was wildly flapping a big white parasol open and closed.

Walking towards the pair was a short, heavy-set man with a thick beard and a distinctive Panama hat. His gait was casual, giving time for several young men to walk along with him for a minute before he dispatched them on some other business.

He’d passed by the policemen and his back was to them when O’Hara called out.


Half a dozen men turned around. The man in the panama hat, though he stutter-stepped, did not.

“Hey, Giuseppe!”

The man stopped and angled his downturned head back at the officers.

“Is Vincenzo... And I no speak English.”

It would be two more months and a trip to New York City before Giuseppe Esposito’s identity could be verified by two Italian gendarmes. The accused murderer of more than a dozen men in Palermo was deported back to Italy but it was already too late. The Cosa Nostra had established itself in America.


Where Theories Begin

Like the ridiculously great number of men who’ve gone on to leave their mark on the world, Bernhard was born sickly. The doctors who cared for him throughout his youth told him he wouldn’t have a long life. So much for prophecy: he died at age 93, having lived, without hyperbole, one of the most remarkable lives ever lived.

And he lived relentlessly.

When Hitler’s army invaded the Netherlands, he was there, rallying the guards at the Royal Palace and firing at the German planes. Forced to flee to England with his wife, Juliana, he continued the fight, first in the war-planning councils and then in fighters and bombers over occupied territory. Before the war was over, he had been appointed Supreme-Commander in the Dutch Armed Forces without having ever received any formal military training. And during the rebuilding of the Netherlands, he stood in the spotlight as the orchestrator of the new economy.

It didn’t end there. He founded Rotary International. He began the World Wildlife Fund. He would sit at the board of directors of over three hundred corporations. Ian Fleming took note that Bernhard drank his martinis shaken, not stirred.

Because such a life would have been incomplete without scandal, Bernhard found himself at the center of more than a few, including such messy topics as illegitimate children, bribe-taking, and international assassinations.

But there remains one event that ensured his eternal notoriety.

On May 31, 1953, Bernhard stood up from behind a long table in the conference room of a new hotel in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and pronounced the meeting closed. Before each guest departed, they personally shook his hand and promised to meet again the following year. This annual gathering brought about by Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld would come to be known as The Bilderberger Group.


John Frum America

The New Hebrides Condominium had been under joint French-British rule for twenty-five years. The old ways were disappearing fast. Whatever traditional customs that the colonial governments didn’t prohibit, the Presbyterian missionaries made sure to anathematize.

This was why, on February 15, 1931, the tribal elders called a meeting of all the men on the island of Tanna. Chief Nikiau was the speaker.

“We have had a vision tonight, a vision of God. He came out of the volcano and spoke to us. He told us that we must stop following the white man’s ways,” he warned, “or we will disappear into the ocean like the sun. First, throw away their money, their francs and pounds!”

A tense silence engulfed the gathering as he paused.

“...throw away their clothes...”

A murmur began to roll through the crowd of several thousand.

“We must take our children from their schools and quit their churches! We must return to our customs! We must drink kava and worship the magic stones and bring back our dances!”

Shouts erupted as a spark of pride glowed in the natives and Chief Nikiau delivered the final message.

“God told us that he would send us a savior and his name will be John. John Frum! He will deliver to us all that we are lacking!”

This return to tradition of the natives of New Hebrides struggled for over a decade. And then something unexpected happened.

Several thousand American soldiers arrived in New Hebrides. Among them was one with some slightly progressive ideas. He was only there for a short time but when he spoke to the locals he introduced himself as John from America.

All they remembered was “John from.” A bonanza of American goods followed the army and the most memorable of the cargo cults was born.


Welcome Che!

Bucking the trend, a "follower" enlists here after I actually post a story :) Thanks to From Kafka to Kindergarten!



All of his seventy-seven years were reflected in Talbot’s wrinkled jowls. “Please! No more gifts for my wife, parson, she might get used it! Now, is this your nephew you’ve promised to my daughter?”

“Indeed! And I’ve brought along a few close friends, I hope there’s room at the table...”

“Of course! Now come in, let me’ missus’ take care of these young men while we go down to the basement and take a peek at what I promised ye?”

“Again, I don’t want to impose but would ye mind if my friends came along also?”

On May 9, 1671, the group descended into a basement below Talbot Edward’s apartment. They’d met only a month before when Talbot had taken the parson in to treat his wife for a bout of dizziness and they’d hit it off immediately. Now Talbot was about to give a free tour of his workplace.

As he opened wide the heavy door at the bottom of the staircase, Talbot felt the smash of a wooden mallet against the back of his head. He crumpled to the floor and heard the door slam behind him.

“Parson!” he screamed.

“No parson here,” came the reply as a sack was slipped over his head. “Blood is my name. I believe the King is familiar with my work...”

After the long con, Thomas Blood and his companions almost escaped with the Crown Jewels. Almost, except for the surprise arrival of Talbot’s son. Blood and his gang were arrested after a desperate struggle. The trip to his prison cell was short, just a few stories up from where the crime occurred in the Tower of London.

Oddly enough, King Charles II not only pardoned the “bravo” but gave him a plot of land that entitled him to £500 a year.


An Oath by Night

Grace lifted her head from a dead sleep and shook her husband’s shoulder, “Cal, I heard something...”

John opened his eyes and remained motionless, listening in the dark. Footsteps on the lower stairs brought an abnormal sickness to his stomach. They suddenly stopped at the first landing and there was a heavy silence.


Grace reached out and lit a kerosene lamp that illuminated a clock on her bedside table.

“That’s your father, Cal! It’s two-thirty!

John snapped out of bed, pulling on a robe as he walked into a pair of waiting slippers.

“Son!” came the voice again.

He took the lamp from Grace and walked down the hallway towards his father who was now almost at the top of the stairs. A crisp yellow paper was in his trembling hand.

Grace watched from the bedroom door as John took the paper and read it. And reread it. She noticed a pronounced slump in his posture as he gave the paper back and slowly turned. His father made his way back down to the sitting room.


John took a few hesitant steps and stopped. He seemed to be staring right through her, the color gone from his face. But he suddenly straightened up and leaned over the railing, calling down to his father.

“Dad, do you still have notary powers?”

When President Warren Harding unexpectedly died in San Francisco on the evening of August 2, 1923, it took seven hours for the news to reach the Vice President in his primitive Vermont farmhouse. John Calvin Coolidge, Sr. administered the Oath of Office to his son by lamplight with his wife and chauffeur as witnesses.

Asked later how he knew that he had the power to swear his son into office, the father replied, “I didn’t know I didn’t.”