July 27, 2008

Bananas: Excerpts

I'm reading Peter Chapman's Bananas and as has been pointed out elsewhere it is a very interesting read.  Here are some gleanings:
Clement Attlee, Britain's prime minister in the early years after the Second World War, had a United Fruit shipload of bananas brought over in 1945 to herald the idea of a bright new future.  This was to be 'Social Democracy and the 'welfare state' and the boat had a banana on board for each child and pregnant mother of the land.  His gesture, however, was taken in other ways.  Evelyn Waugh, the novelist, saw it in more melancholic terms, of a lost and glorious past.  When the bananas arrived for his three children, he had his wife serve the fruit with rare cream and sugar and scoffed the lot in front of them.  (His son Auberon later wrote that he had not taken anything his father had to say on faith and morals very seriously thereafter.) 

Entry cost [to the 1876 Great Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia] was fifty cents, the average worker's daily wage a dollar twenty-one.  The gates took five million dollars, one thousand and one of them was counterfeit.  Of the five hundred and four children lost, all but five were returned to their families the same day, the rest the next.  Four people died, none from foul play.  There were six hundred and seventy-five arrests, fourteen of which were for pick-pocketing.  One person was also arrested for fornication, though with no indication as to with whom.

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