Today's History Highlights Archive

A Shipwreck, Typewriters and Boston’s Everywhere Man in Today’s History Highlights – 9.4.2013

The Titanic of New England. Fourteen years before the Titanic fell to the bottom of the deep blue sea, New England suffered a similar tragic loss. Two hundred people perished when the SS Portland went down off the coast of Cape Ann in 1898. She was a luxurious wooden side paddle-wheel steamer that shuttled passengers between Portland and Boston daily. People would board the ship in the evening for the 11-hour trip and wake up the next morning to disembark.  A huge storm just after Thanksgiving battered the ship for 12 hours until she succumbed to the 20-foot waves, all souls lost. The story of one of the worst maritime disasters in New England history captured the nation’s attention. This Thursday, the Penobscot Marine Museum will present filmmaker David Conover, who will show and discuss his hour-long film documentary Wreck of the Portland. Known as the “Titanic of New England.” At PMM’s Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, 11 Church Street, Searsport. Tickets in advance $8 members, $10 non-members, or at the door $12 members, $15 non-members. Buy tickets over the phone at 207-548-2529.

Yale’s Typewriter Repairman. Erich Segal bought a typewriter from him and wrote his best-seller Love Story on it. Yale President A. Bartlett Giamatti, author Robert Penn Warren and poet Archibald MacLeish used his typewriter repair services. He was Manson Whitlock, Yale University’s favorite typewriter repairman from 1930 to 2013. He repaired an estimated 300,000 typewriters over his 83-year career. Though he accepted the transition to electric typewriters, he refused to work on computers, famously telling a reporter in 2007: “You work a typewriter, a computer works you.” Mr. Whitlock wrote a charming poem shortly before he died on Aug. 28. You can read it as part of his obituary, featured on tumblr.com’s Obit of the Day.

Boston’s Forrest Gump. Martin William Joyce of West Roxbury just couldn’t escape history. He was drafted in World War I, where he was wounded in the Battle of the Argonne. He raided bootleggers as a state trooper during Prohibition. As the United State prepared to enter World War II, he was called up and stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. At the end of the war he became commander of the Dachau concentration camp.  Even that didn’t end his rendezvous with destiny – Joyce and his wife were aboard the Andrea Doria in 1956 when it was rammed by a freighter and sank. A Wayland High School teacher found Joyce’s papers in an old suitcase in the history department’s storage room. For the next two years, they read the documents, organized them, wrote Joyce’s biography and uploaded it all to the web. You can read about it in this Boston Magazine story, or go right to the website: http://www.ltcoljoycepapers.org.

Today’s Flashback photo is a Native American aboard an Indian Motorcycle around 1910. These beloved bikes – America’s first motorcycle -- were made in Springfield, Mass., from 1901 to 1953. There have been many efforts to restart the brand. Most recently Polaris Industries, the snowmobile pioneers, relaunched the name last month with a lineup of 2014 bikes made in Iowa.

Today’s Flashback Photo…

IndianPOD

Indian Motorcycle promotion from 1910

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