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Friday, May 9, 1941
in What's New In Town
W. J. Sidis
Boston is more important in the average American’s life than most of us think. In childhood he hears “Rock-a-Bye Baby,” then gets Mother Goose rhymes . . . both emanating from Boston. He will probably attend a free public school, and draw books out of a free public library . . . both of which were also originally Boston institutions. He will learn “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” a song originated from our own Park Street Church. His shoes, and the cloth from which his clothing is made, come either from our Metropolis or points nearby. If a city dweller, he may live in an apartment . . . another Boston idea. In emergencies, as well as for ordinary conversation, another Boston invention, the telephone, is called on. He will probably shave with a safety razor, invented in Boston . . . his “safety” is quite likely to have come directly from South Boston. For satisfying a “sweet tooth,” candy from Boston or Cambridge will most likely be used. If he gets sick, much of the medical equipment is likely to come from Boston. And if an operation is needed . . . Boston introduced the idea of anesthetics. And, when the time has come to depart this vale of tears, our average American is likely to be resting under a slab of Quincy granite.
A well-known American school story is the tale of the schoolboys who went to the British authorities to protest the breaking up of their snowslide, this being told as one of the incidents leading up to the Revolution. This actually happened in the Boston Latin School in December, 1774. The school was then on the present site of the Parker House, and the military headquarters was where City Hall is now. The snowslide was the long coast down Beacon Street from its big bend, and the whole length of School St. School St. is named from the Latin School having been there in those days.
Boston once possessed more territory than it does now. Though, in the old days, Charlestown, Roxbury, and Dorchester were separate towns (Dorchester including South Boston) . . . though Brighton used to be part of Cambridge, and Hyde Park part of Dedham . . . nevertheless, as Boston originally included what is now Braintree, Quincy, Brookline, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop, it gave Boston considerably more area than now comes within the official city limits. If population of former as well as present limits were to be counted, Boston’s population would exceed that of Detroit.
The Massachusetts General was the first hospital in the world to use anesthetics, over a hundred years ago. “Ether Day,” the anniversary of that event, is still regularly celebrated by the medical staff of that hospital on October 16 every year.
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