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Look for the Helpers: 10 Heroes of the Boston Marathon Tragedy

April 16, 2013
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"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" —Mister Rogers

In the midst of the carnage following the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday, people came together to do what they could, even when it put them in danger. Some were doing their jobs, some had specific skills to volunteer, and others just offered what they could to help out. Here are some examples of the good to take the edge off the horrifyingly bad.

1. First Responders

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Boston EMTs were already stationed at the marathon to treat the expected injuries and exhaustion-related maladies that come with any marathon run. Boston police were there for crowd control. Dozen of doctors and nurses volunteered to work medical tents at the marathon. None of them expected to shift into emergency mode, but when the explosions happened, they rose to occasion.  

2. Marathon Runners

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When the bombs exploded, only about half the marathon runners had crossed the finish line. Many of those who were near the explosion ran to help the victims, despite their exhaustion after running 26 miles. As word of the disaster spread along the marathon route, some runners crossed the finish line and then continued running to Mass General Hospital to donate blood. Because of their efforts, and that of other immediate donors, the Red Cross has issued a statement that it has plenty of blood for the patients in Boston right now, and offers a website to help people find friends and family members affected by the tragedy.

3. Boston Residents

People living in Boston, Brookline, and other nearby areas quickly opened their doors with offers to let stranded marathoners and spectators stay at their homes. Specific offers were posted on Twitter and Google Docs to help house family members of the injured and others who weren't able to return home or to their hotels.

4. UMass Nursing Students

Photo by Flickr user Mark Zastrow

Dr. Adrienna Wald brought 30 of her nursing students from UMass Boston to the marathon as volunteers, expecting to treat exhausted runners. In addition to treating marathoners, the students immediately pitched in to help those with serious wounds.

"They did what they were trained to do," said Wald. "Instead of running away, they ran to help."

She said her students assisted at least one person whose leg had been amputated.

"It was a gory, gruesome scene that my students shouldn't have seen at this point in their careers," said Wald. "Who could ever be prepared for this?"

5. Allan Panter

Screenshot from The Today Show

Dr. Allan Panter traveled from his home in Georgia to Boston to watch his wife Theresa run the marathon. He was waiting at the finish line when the blast occurred. He ran to a seriously injured woman and went to work keeping her airway open until she could be taken to a medical tent. He then worked on many people with injuries, mostly leg injuries, to control bleeding. When Theresa crossed the finish line, she was relieved to find her husband helping instead of finding him a victim.

6. Joe Andruzzi

Boston Globe via Getty Images

Former New England Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi was at the scene of the explosions, as his charitable foundation sponsored runners. In the aftermath of the explosions, he was seen carrying an injured woman away from the site. Andruzzi came by that can-do attitude naturally: Three of his brothers were New York City firemen who responded to the 9/11 attacks.   

7. Carlos Arredondo

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"The man in the cowboy hat" stood out in photographs and videos of the explosions' aftermath, as he pulled debris off people and helped a young man who appeared to have lost both legs. That man in the hat was Carlos Arredondo, a 52-year-old peace activist who was at the marathon to cheer on a runner who was dedicating his race to Arredondo's son, a Marine who died in Iraq in 2004.

8. Anonymous Volunteers

While the police were very busy, these anonymous volunteers stepped up to help direct traffic around the affected area. They are representative of the many other anonymous people who helped out in whatever way they could.   

9. Google

Upon hearing the news of the Boston incident, Google immediately set up a Person Finder application in order to help friends and relatives get updates on not only Boston residents, but marathon runners from all over. You can also contribute information on people if you have it.   

10. Mister Rogers

In the aftermath of the explosions, many people around the United States thought back to their childhoods, and the advice they received from Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

The man who had so much influence on a generation of children reached beyond the grave to help us cope and to inspire an attitude so many have in the days after a tragedy like the Boston bombing.

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This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
April 30, 2017
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As a recurring feature, we share some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. These items were the ones that were the most popular with our readers this week, and they’re still available.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers (including Amazon) and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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Prepworks by Progressive Lettuce Keeper - 4.7 Quart for $11.99 (list price $12.99)

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History
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When the FBI Went After Mad Magazine
April 29, 2017
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Warner Bros., IStock

In a memo dated November 30, 1957, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified as “A. Jones” raised an issue of critical importance: "Several complaints to the Bureau have been made concerning the 'Mad' comic book [sic], which at one time presented the horror of war to readers."

Attached to the document were pages taken from a recent issue of Mad that featured a tongue-in-cheek game about draft dodging. Players who earned such status were advised to write to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and request a membership card certifying themselves as a “full-fledged draft dodger.” At least three readers, the agent reported, did exactly that.

Mad, of course, was the wildly popular satirical magazine that was reaching upwards of a million readers every other month. Published by William Gaines, who had already gotten into some trouble with Congress when he was called to testify about his gruesome horror comics in 1954, Mad lampooned everyone and everything. But in name-checking the notoriously humorless Hoover, Gaines had invited the wrong kind of attention.

The memo got several facts incorrect: Mad had switched from a comic book to a magazine format in 1955, and it was Gaines’ E.C. Comics that had “presented the horror of war” in other titles. Despite getting these crucial pieces of information wrong, Jones didn’t hesitate to editorialize: "It is also of interest to note that…it is rather unfunny.”

The agent recommended the Bureau’s New York offices “make contact” with Mad’s headquarters to “advise them of our displeasure” and to make sure “that there be no repetition of such misuse of the Director’s name.”

Less than a week later, the Feds entered the hallowed hallways patrolled by Alfred E. Neuman. Their New York office would later report to Hoover directly that they had met with John Putnam, the magazine’s art director. (Conveniently, Gaines was not in that day.) Putnam told the agents he regretted the magazine using Hoover’s name and that nothing malicious was intended:

Putnam said that the use of the membership card and the name and address of the Director at the end of the game was referred to in their business as a 'gag' or 'kicker' in the same way that a comedian like Bob Hope or Milton Berle might use it.

Putnam swore that Mad would never again take Hoover’s name in vain; Gaines sent off a letter of sincere apology to the Director.

The Smoking Gun

Just two years later, in January 1960, Agent A. Jones was forced to file a second notice about the shenanigans at Mad. A recent issue had made not one, but two derogatory mentions of Hoover, including one in which he is blatantly and disrespectfully portrayed as being associated with a vacuum cleaner, “The Honorable J. Edgar Electrolux”:  

Obviously, Gaines was insincere in this promise…and has again placed the Director in a position of ridicule…it is felt we should contact Gaines…and firmly and severely admonish them concerning our displeasure…

It was by now clear Mad was not only polluting young minds, but that Gaines had absolutely no regard for the honorable Hoover’s position.

In June 1961, the FBI’s worst fears had been realized. Detailing an investigation into a Seattle-area extortion attempt led to the following:

Investigation … resulted in gaining admissions from the victim’s 12-year-old son and an 11-year-old companion that they had gotten the idea of preparing an extortion letter after reading the June issue of 'Mad' magazine.   

Working in concert with the Buffalo field office, the FBI determined another letter had been sent by a young boy demanding money in the style of a recent issue’s extortion advice. And there was a third under review that was sent to the agent of some professional wrestlers.

Mad was quickly becoming the scourge of the federal government. The FBI suggested the magazine be brought to the attention of the Attorney General for “instructing [readers] to deliberately violate the Federal Law.” They tried reaching out to Gaines, who was on vacation. (Time and again, Gaines simply not being in the office when called upon seemed to confound the FBI.)

Agent A. Jones, having exhausted all attempts to reason with these irresponsible anarchists, filed one last memo:

Despite assurances, they have continued to publish slurring remarks about the Bureau. In view of this situation, it was deemed useless to protest all such irresponsible remarks to a magazine of this poor judgment and capriciousness … we will have to wait and see if our action will result in increased discretion by this publication.

Poor A. Jones was unable to put an end to Mad’s reign of terror. But the magazine redeemed itself somewhat. In the 1970s, when the Bureau was trying to suppress the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, an agent suggested they copy and distribute a sticker from the magazine that read, “Support Mental Illness—Join the Klan!”

Hoover said no.

Additional Sources:
The Smoking Gun.

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