February 9 - 1961: "Vicious killer nor'easter" plummets Cape Cod

1895: Volleyball invented in Bay State. 1914: 60 mph winds dooms one of last six-masted schooners
The Alice M. Lawrence doomed by a fierce storm in 1914. Photo from the collection of William P. Quinn.

1961: Local residents hit with a massive storm

Cape Cod Canal completely frozen

On this day in 1961, Cape and islands were digging out after one of the worst snowstorms in years - with the prospect of more snow to come.

A "vicious killer nor'easter," as described by UPI, dumped two feet of snow across the region, with drifts of up to 15 feet measured elsewhere in New England. Heavy snow snapped power lines and left a quarter of a million people without power in the dead of winter.

The Cape Cod Canal was completely iced over and ice extended for a mile into Cape Cod Bay. Snow began falling on the evening of Friday Feb. 3 and didn't stop until nearly 30 hours later.

"An estimated 100 deaths on the Eastern Seaboard were attributed to the storm that finally went out to sea after reaching near-blizzard conditions Friday," UPI reported. "Virtually every segment of life was affected - transportation, communications and industry."

The storm's breadth and fury were unequaled until that of another to hit the Northeast on this same week 17 years later - the Blizzard of 1978.

1895: Bay State man invents volleyball

On this day 1895, a new game was first played at the YMCA in Holyoke. Many of the men who came to the Y were excited about another new game; basketball, but the Holyoke sports director was looking for a less strenuous indoor sport. Borrowing from basketball, tennis, and handball, William Morgan came up with "Mintonette," soon re-named volleyball.

William Morgan was born in the state of New York and studied at Springfield College, Massachusetts. Ironically at Springfield, Morgan met James Naismith who invented basketball in 1891. Morgan was motivated by Naismith's game of basketball designed for younger students to invent a game suitable for the older members of the YMCA.

Over the next half-century, the game spread around the world. At the first Olympic competition in the 1964 games in Tokyo, the Soviet men and Japanese women took the Gold. However, when the Volleyball Hall of Fame opened in 1987, it was in Holyoke, the Massachusetts mill town where the game was born.

(Above: Holyoke women play a 19th century game of volleyball.)

1914: Fierce storm dooms one of last six-masted schooner

On this day in 1914, a fierce storm with winds up to 60 mph doomed efforts to salvage the six-masted schooner Alice M. Lawrence that had run aground on Tuckernuck Shoal two days earlier.

The 305-foot vessel (shown on right at its launching), built in 1906 in Bath, Maine at a cost of $130,000, was "bound light" (without cargo) from Portland to Norfolk, Va., most likely to pick up a cargo of coal. Its crew was forced to abandon ship on Dec. 14.

The Alice M. Lawrence is believed to have been the first American-built schooner outfitted with electric lights. 

The last of the schooners, these giant six-masted ones were said to have paid off their costs with a few years. The schooner is a fore-and-aft rigged vessel with at least two masts, named the fore and the main mast. There were only ten six-masted schooners built.

According to the tradition the word schooner was first used in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1713 when a new vessel was launched at the shipyard of Andrew Robinson.

It has been said that when the vessel entered the water that a spectator remarked "Oh, how she scoons!", upon which Robinson replied: "A scooner let her be."

True or not, fore-and-aft vessels of the schooner type had been built before that date and are illustrated in Dutch paintings from the early 17th century.

(photo credit,  Maine Maritime Museum)


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