Rachel Somebody

That's Faith on the left
That’s Faith on the left

Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote about an occurrence of the Baader-Meinhof effect. A couple of months later, I wrote about some other interesting things that I wanted to categorize under the heading of a phenomenon, but I was struggling to find a name. Then, last summer, Baader-Meinhof, or something very similar popped back into my world. Perhaps not a real occurrence, but one of those weird things that happens and you don’t know whether to just shake your head, or if it’s something you should wonder about. If you haven’t guessed, this has happened again.

When we were visiting Pittsburgh in November, our daughter and I walked along the Allegheny river waterfront on our way to the Strip District. We crossed the Robert Clemente Bridge, walked under the Andy Warhol Bridge and also walked under the “other sister” the one I never remember.

You know that feeling when you know you know something but you can’t remember it. It nags at you, and you know that as soon as you stop thinking about it, you’ll remember it. A few blocks after my daughter asked “what bridge is that?” and I sighed and stuttered “some famous woman” it came to me: “Rachel, it’s the Rachel Somebody Bridge” – A few more steps and the whole memory shook itself loose of the cobwebs. It’s the Rachel Carson Bridge a.k.a. the 9th Street bridge, a.k.a. the third sister but the only sister who’s named after a woman.

I remember adding:

I think she was an author.”

Technically, I wasn’t wrong; she was an author. She was also a scientist who’s credited with advancing the global environmental movement. That had to be no small task in Pittsburgh in the 1950s when powerful industrial forces would probably have preferred to continue to have Pittsburgh be known by its nickname “Hell with the lid off”.

Actually, Rachel worked more to fight the widespread use of pesticides, and her book “Silent Spring” ultimately led to a nationwide ban on DDT as well as other chemicals.

So, how is this related to that pesky Baader-Meihof Phenomenon? Well, in case you weren’t here two years ago:

Baader-Meinhof is the phenomenon where one happens upon some obscure piece of information–often an unfamiliar word or name–and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly.”

I returned from Pittsburgh with Rachel Carson, author, firmly planted in my active memory. Then, I began to see ads for a documentary on PBS which premiers this month. (It’s on tomorrow night). It was while watching that ad that I realized that she was more scientist and activist than author. When I searched for her, I discovered that PBS had aired an earlier special by Bill Moyers in 2007. The truly weird part was when, early last week, a friend on Twitter posted a link to a book, “Always, Rachel” about the letters between Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman. The book isn’t new; it was published in 1995.

I knew about the book Silent Spring, but I was 8 years old when it was published. I remember the ban on DDT, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and I remember many people in Pittsburgh complaining that those laws would ultimately cause the city to lose many good jobs.

I also remember wading in the waters of Lake Erie when you had to brush through pods of dead fish in order to get to “cleaner” water to swim in. And, I remember my brother coming home from an afternoon of water skiing on the Monongahela River and being able to pull his cut-off blue jean shorts apart with his fingertips after a cycle in the washing machine.

As for the bridges, I’ve always loved the Three Sisters because of their unique design. I didn’t know about their “new” names until I visited the city in 2009. The 6th St bridge was renamed on August 6, 1998, as part of a compromise after the Pirates sold the naming rights to what became PNC Park. There had been a large movement to name the park after Roberto Clemente.

The 7th St bridge was renamed for Andy Warhol on March 18, 2005, as part of a tenth anniversary celebration for the nearby Andy Warhol Museum.

The 9th St bridge was renamed on Earth Day, April 22, 2006, after a lobbying effort by Esther Barazzone, president of Chatham University, formerly Chatham College, formerly Pennsylvania College for Women. Rachel Carson graduated from Chatham.

I’m not sure why these coincidental encounters with Rachel are occurring. Maybe it’s just a good time to remember how important women are. I am proud of the contributions she made, and even though it took a lot of lobbying, I am proud of my hometown for honoring such an important woman of science.

I hope to watch the PBS Special. I also hope to read “Silent Spring.” Of course, from my earlier encounter with Badder-Meinhof, I still hope read “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

Note: Not only does my lovely editor own a copy of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, she owns a couple Rachel Carson books and was surprised by my ignorance on the subject of this remarkable woman. Sorry about the photo overload, but I like them all and my battery is dying.

85 thoughts on “Rachel Somebody

Add yours

  1. I’m first? That’s a first! :) Happy Monday, Dan.

    I love this post because it’s full of bridges! … and although I’ve never heard of the Baader-Meinhof effect, I certainly know when it happens to me. It makes me sit up and take notice. I hadn’t realized that Silent Spring was that old. I was thinking more 60s, even 70s.
    Women have played a huge role in being the conscience of the world and fighting for changes that make the world a better and safer place. I didn’t know about Rachel Carson, but now I do and am grateful for her efforts.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Joanne. I think Silent Spring was published in the early 60s. I may have done the math wrong, I might have been 8. Women have, and continue to play a huge role. Often overlooked or undervalued. I do love bridges.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joanne said it well about the positive and impactful role women have played. I did not know about Rachel Carson, so thanks for a little of her history and achievements and the pretty bridge photos. Nice way to start off a Monday morning.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mary. I am going to try to learn more about her. She brought about a lot of change. It must have been very hard for a woman to do at that time. It’s sad that times haven’t improved more than they have.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bridges are wonderful pieces of architecture that always make me aware of the various crafts who create them to last so generations can pass over them. Nice shots. :-) But, the big question this Monday is how are you doing after the game last night? My husband was smiling, but I knew you weren’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s stick with the bridges, Judy. I am disappointed, but we didn’t take our best game to Boston and you can’t win up there unless you are playing at your highest level. I’m proud of my team, and I’ll be there to support them next year…as always. These bridges, by the way, were the only self-anchored suspension bridges at the time they were built. They are very interesting structures.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. what a fantastic post = and the warhol bridge is my fav – but o much to enjoy and learn about.
    and side note – you barely posted this post an hour ago and I had to scroll comments to get to the reply box -dang Dan….. you have quite the readership – :)
    ((and glad to be part of it as well….)
    have a nice monday….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Silent Spring was required read for incoming Freshmen when I was in high school so this post brought back memories. Baader-Meinhof…every time I talk about this, I can never remember what it’s called. Your post about it was when I first realized it actually had a name! Very cool post, Dan.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Lois. I may have actually read Silent Spring, but I don’t remember. I took some courses in high school where the teacher would have been likely to have us read a book like that. I always have to search my blog for Edwin Drood to fine Baader-Meinhof, as if Edwin Drood is easier to remember.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post and pictures, as always. I had to delete my WordPress from my phone, because my WordPress on my laptop was acting wonky. Now, since I said it, maybe I’ll run across fixes for that several times this week. Hey, worth a try!

    Thanks for the additional information on Rachel Carson. I thought she was a writer who knew some science; never knew she was a scientist who could write compellingly. I wish I had more thumbs, but you’ll have to settle for a mere two thumbs up!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t speak to PBS airing a documentary after you crossed a bridge named for Rachel Carson but there is something more to it than the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. The media is so click-happy that anything which causes a wave of attention will quickly be amplified into absurdity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know, I didn’t mention this on Twitter, or anywhere, although I did search for it. Still, not sure how that could motivate a friend to read/recommend a 10-yr-old book. In any case, I’ll try to watch the documentary.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Enjoyed this. I always love visiting your city and your pictures make me smile. I wish there could be a fourth sister, so there would be a Billy Strayhorn Bridge. Of all the illustrious people to come out of Pittsburgh, he is my favorite–a talented and extraordinarily kind man. Thanks, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you enjoyed this. I love taking pictures whenever I visit the city, which is about every other year now. Pittsburgh has over 400 bridges, you’d think they could name one after him.


    1. Thanks. I took so many photos, I was having trouble narrowing the list. I had taken my laptop with me to my daughters (to watch that God-awful AFC playoff game) and the battery was almost dead. Time to upload and add captions, but I had to stop sorting.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Clearly this is an interesting stream of consciousness piece, your thoughts flowing like the river — a nice, clean river :) I love the pics, especially the love locks and the bridge(s) at night! I know nothing about Ms Rachel Carson, but I have read The Sea Around Us.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t even know I’d read it if you hadn’t shown me the covers. I read from the same cover, and I do think that was in the 80’s. I remember trying to sketch that cover…

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Love the bridges, but more importantly the background of Rachel Carson as I remember the environmental issues you mention especially banning of DDT…coming from the farm belt….in a good sense we have come a long way in environmental issues…but clearly still have a long road ahead of us! Great post, sir!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kirt. I don’t imagine the banning of DDT was taken too well in the farm belt. I had a lot of extended family that complained about the pollution controls hurting Pittsburgh industry, but the air and water were so bad, even after they started trying to clean up their act.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Have to read more about this Baader Meinhoff effect. I think I commented this before, but when I was still working in Nursing I would often get repeated cases of the same diagnosis, clustering together. Interesting about the polution being so bad that it killed fish and disintegrated your brother’s shorts. Yikes. Just shows pollution is not just a figment of our imaginations. Love Rachel Carson. Yes she had a great impact. I remember how DDT just about wiped out California Pelicans. The chemical, from runoff of farms into the water, was found to weaken the shells of the pelican eggs so that they would collapse. Now since the ban on DDT the pelicans have recovered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Baader-Meinhof appears and reappears from time to time with me. It’s always an odd thing, but it usually causes me to dig into some research and I usually feel better having done that. I member reading about the weakened egg shells being caused by the runoff. It took a lot to get that chemical (and others) banned.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Christine. These things have a way of weaving themselves into a story. It seemed like a good time to feature a smart, powerful woman, especially one who was controversial and yet helped prevent a damage.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I liked the bridges and details in their names, history of name changes and the beauty in your photos, Dan.
    I had read, “Silent Spring” sometime in the eighties. I am always excited to know a bit about a scientific reference. I remember Lake Erie as holding dead fish but am so happy pollution and stuff are cleared up due to stricter regulations on dumping from factories “hot” water or chemicals, Dan. Thank goodness! :)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the edge of land close to my parent’s cottage eroded, Dan. Since my parents were retired when they moved there, they planted vines, small trees and would put big stones in the base of the hill with a mixture of cement using a wheelbarrow. They also paid for a big barge which dropped off huge blocks into the shoreline. “Their” (it sold summer, 2016) cliff juts out almost 50 yards farther than their neighbors. :)


  13. Wow. Much connection in your experience. This happens to me quite frequently. As a side note, shortly after I started my new job here 6 mos ago, another woman came on board who has become the dear friend I had been praying for, just someone you can totally be yourself with, that is also honest and has your back-and allows you to do the same. Her name? Why Rachel of course. And ther is always the Bible’s Rachel……😉Perhaps we need to turn our thoughts to bridge building in whatever way possible to ensure a healthier, brighter future thatn the one that seems to be looming.. have a great week Dan! Love your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved your gallery, Dan. Overload in your opinion, delight in mine. Coincidences have been happening to me too in which I mean my fog post for one, another I was going to right an email titled, “Test of Faith” and then person I was going to write to emailed me the next day with an email called “Test”. Then I know of two people whose due dates are almost here as in babies and I have been cleaning like a madwoman same as they. How’s this one? The night I had nightmares a friend could not sleep well. Makes you wonder how we all are connected as is everything as well. Very cool post, dear friend. Thank you!! And yes let’s focus on the importance of women for without them just where would we all be? Hmmmmmm ……. :) <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. These things, coincidence, connections, messages…I don’t know, but they always make me take notice.

      I did watch the PBS special on Rachel. Interesting and sad in many ways. She was a very special woman, and she carried a heavy burden. If they repeat the special (which they always do) you should check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What a great post, Dan. Thank you. I love bridges, especially when they have a story. Rachel Carson, you were awesome! My favorite bridges span the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. I am in awe every drive. Each Art Deco style bridge is different, and a work of art. The one that has Winged Victory…makes my heart beat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Evelyne. I watched the PBS documentary and they covered her life in Maine very well. I have not been to that area, but I think I’ll check it out during the next road trip to Maine.


  16. Hey dan – had to come back now that i have a little more time.

    I love when this happens to me – and a theme unfolds in my life – which is what happened with Rachel. so cool.
    also – I have heard of silent spring – but had no idea of who was behind it.
    and side note – did you know that the restrictions on some pesticides – like in hotels – has led to the resurgence of bedbugs and maybe other diseases that are transmitted by mites and critters.
    A while back I was reading something very meaty about it. It has been with me since.
    Glad they have banned certain things – but ugh – hope they find better alternative products

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for coming back, Yvette. There’s always a trade-off with these things. At least now, we seem to be doing a little more up-front research and testing. I’m not a fan of bed bugs, but I’m glad I’m not sleeping in DDT when I travel. I have a hard enough time dealing with the often over-use of Fabreeze.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. well I hear ya – and FeBreeze kills birds and is very bad.

        Have you ever heard of Diatomaceous earth?
        well we travel with baggies of it and lightly sprinkle it around the beds and floors – not breathing it in and it is also great for facials and so many things – especially pet care. It is ground diatoms and is quite a gift.
        I also bring this 8 dollar essential oil diffuser – and plug that in – Dan – they work so well in hotel rooms because the essential oils are all natural plant oils so they make the air healing and smell nice – and can kill mites and deter stuff.
        I think Marshalls or TJMaxx was where we found our travel diffusers – worth so much to me.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. well we first heard about it from some folks who had a Rottweiler Rescue….
            they used it for the dogs.
            but they never sold me on it and so I stayed away – but finally decided to try it!

            anyhow, wishing you a good day, dan

            Liked by 1 person

  17. Your post cracked me up (laughing) Dan, but not for the intended effect… the moment I saw the names “Baader-Meinhof” I thought “what’s this guy doing writing about them?” then I read your post and kinda heaved (hove?) a sigh of relief. You do know who the original Baader-Meinhof were, don’t you? :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do know of the terrorist gang, but I’m not sure they are the original. I don’t know when the phenomenon was identified. In any case, no, not the gang, that thing when you hear something new, and then hear it multiple times. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment, Val. I’m glad you got a chuckle.

      Liked by 1 person

Add your thoughts. Start or join the discussion. Sadly, links require moderation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: