Monday, December 05, 2005

Supine Smoots

Painting Smoots on bridgeThe disclaimer should be obvious. Neither the photos here nor the story has anything to do with Massachusetts marriage law, or solemnization or same-sex marriage.

However, you can't live in or visit the area at length without becoming aware of the 364.4 and an ear Smoots that mark the distance across the bridge from Boston to MIT (named not for this tool school down the river, but called The Harvard Bridge). A good natured MIT frat boy lay end over end that many times to measure the distance in October 1958. Subsequently repainted regularly, those marks let you count your passage across the Charles.

The Boston Herald recaps the etymology of Smoots in recognition of the pending retirement of the original Oliver Smoot. If you have a problem with congruity, sit before continuing.Recent Oliver Smoot lecturing

Oliver Smoot will retire after a career in setting and regulating standards at the American National Standards Institute. As George W. Arnold, ANSI's board's chair said, "It'’s very appropriate that Ollie will always be remembered as a unit of measurement in Cambridge.. . . He'’s certainly set a standard for all of us."

There was no word on how much he has shrunk with age. We would have to wonder though, how many Smoots would the bridge be today?

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