Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Boys of Summer '44 : DODGERS tank but Brooklyn shines in extended road trip: Omaha,Utah,Juno,Gold,Sword ...

   In that crucial summer of 1944, the Dodgers were on their way to the cellar in baseball, but despite that, something far greener and far more golden than "A Tree" was growing in Brooklyn and for a time, best-selling author Betty Smith had to move aside for an unknown chemist called "John L" (Smith).
   During WWII some say that there was a sign at the entrance to Brooklyn, off the Brooklyn Bridge, that said "Welcome to Brooklyn, the Borough that Builds."

   The borough that builds indeed !
   During WWII, Brooklyn was most famous for the Brooklyn Naval Yard ,where the US Navy was building the Iowa class battleships , the world's biggest killing machines.
   Less well remembered is Brooklyn's lead role in building the world's smallest lifesaving machine : tiny ampules of penicillin from Pfizer's Marcy Avenue Plant.
   Along with lots of weapons and K-rations, the D-Day beaches had plenty of those ampules delivered to the beaches, against all odds, in just the nick of time for the first mass clinical trial of the world's first - and best - antibiotic.
   Penicillin must be the only antibiotic that was literally baptised by fire.
   Most of the penicillin on those blood-stained beaches came from just one plant: and that plant was Pfizer's, hitherto if know at all, known for making citric acid for soda pop.
  A definite thirst quencher, but hardly a lifesaver - except in Coke ads.
   If Pfizer boss, "John L", (or more likely his wife, Mae) hadn't become a last minute convert to the life-saving powers of fungi-grown penicillin over the mirage of man-made penicillin, there won't have been any amount of penicillin on those beaches.
   Brooklyn isn't the industrial power it once was - the jobs have all gone to China and Mexico - but when it had to, it did it up right.
   The Boys of Summer that summer weren't just from Brooklyn, they were from all over - and they really needed Brooklyn and Pfizer to bat 1.0 if they were to pull through.
  They did --- and they did.
   In that light, who really cares if the Dodgers tanked that year .....

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