Under a shady tree at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, CA, sits a bench large enough for two. It is made out of metal, I believe, and it sits in a beautiful setting. But what made this bench so interesting to me wasn’t just the lovely setting or the great tree or the leaves that had fallen around it like a golden crown of glory. What captured my attention was the sign on the back of the bench that you see in today’s picture: “In appreciation of Donna. I hope you have a “Donna” in your life now or in the future.”
Who, or what, was this “Donna”? Was Donna a wife or lover? Perhaps some young man had fallen in love with a Donna during high school or college – yet it was an unrequited love for years, until finally they met later in life and fell into one another’s arms. Or, perhaps they never did wind up together and instead this was a sentiment of “what might have been”.
Was Donna a beloved pet? A precious animal companion who is now gone?
I don’t know. But this I do know: I hope that everyone finds their “Donna” before it is too late.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1919, fiery hot molasses flooded the streets of Boston on this day in 1919, killing 21 people and injuring scores of others. The molasses burst from a huge tank at the United States Industrial Alcohol Company building in the heart of the city.
The United States Industrial Alcohol building was located on Commercial Street near North End Park in Boston. It was close to lunch time on January 15 and Boston was experiencing some unseasonably warm weather as workers were loading freight-train cars within the large building. Next to the workers was a 58-foot-high tank filled with 2.5 million gallons of crude molasses.
Suddenly, the bolts holding the bottom of the tank exploded, shooting out like bullets, and the hot molasses rushed out. An eight-foot-high wave of molasses swept away the freight cars and caved in the building’s doors and windows. The few workers in the building’s cellar had no chance as the liquid poured down and overwhelmed them.
The huge quantity of molasses then flowed into the street outside. It literally knocked over the local firehouse and then pushed over the support beams for the elevated train line. The hot and sticky substance then drowned and burned five workers at the Public Works Department. In all, 21 people and dozens of horses were killed in the flood. It took weeks to clean the molasses from the streets of Boston.
This disaster also produced an epic court battle, as more than 100 lawsuits were filed against the United States Industrial Alcohol Company. After a six-investigation that involved 3,000 witnesses and 45,000 pages of testimony, a special auditor finally determined that the company was at fault because the tank used had not been strong enough to hold the molasses. Nearly $1 million was paid in settlement of the claims.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: When Pluto was discovered in 1930, many people wrote in suggesting names for the new planet. Some suggestions were Cronus, Persephone, Erebus, Atlas, and Prometheus. Eleven-year-old Venetia Burney suggested the name Pluto. She thought it would be a good name since Pluto is so dark and far away, like the god of the underworld. On May 1, 1930, the name Pluto became official, and the little girl received a £5 note as a reward.