Wordplay at Large – Molassacre

Over the weekend we enjoyed a harbor cruise in Boston.  The narrator was full of trivia bits and anecdotes regarding the big city, and did a fine job mixing facts and entertainment as he spoke for nearly an hour and a half about the city’s landmarks and history.

When we approached the North End, he talked for a few minutes about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.  I had a vague idea that a major molasses spill took place nearly a hundred years ago, but didn’t have details at my fingertips.  The idea of a 25-foot wave of molasses rushing down the street at 35 miles per hour is nightmare fodder, for sure.  Imagine, too, how sticky the whole area must have been in the aftermath of the wave.  I have enough fun scrubbing out measuring cups after I mix up cookie dough.  Multiply that residual stickiness by over two million gallons of molasses…

The thing that sticks in my mind, though, is the term the tour guide came up with to describe the day – ‘molassacre’.  Twenty-one people died, which is enough to qualify the event as a massacre.  I must admit I hadn’t considered how dangerous a baking ingredient could be.  I will treat the bottle of Crosby’s in my cupboard with more caution and respect in future.

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