Thursday, January 22, 2009

The chocolate hand

They say that so much cocoa powder has been mixed into the dirt in Lower Mills that when it rains the ground smells like chocolate. I've been along the shores of the Neponset River during a downpour and I can vouch for this legend. There is another legend I cannot prove.

The defunct chocolate mills that mark the border between Dorchester and Milton have been there almost forever. It is the site of the first chocolate factory in America and eventually grew into the Victorian gingerbread brickwork that looms over the little valley today. The mills have since been converted into housing. Though the machinery has been long disassembled and sold off, memories of the industry linger in Lower Mills and not just in the architecture.

They say that Zachariah Quincy, a worker at the Walter Baker & Co. plant, injured his hand while hand-mixing a batch of cocoa powder into a corresponding measure of cocoa butter. He was rushed to Carney Hospital where surgeons couldn't reattach the severed hand. Too many major nerves and arteries and ligaments had been shorn free from their moorings. Before the hand could be sent to the Pathology Department for proper disposition, it disappeared.

Over the decades, the people of Lower Mills have reported the appearance of a disembodied, chocolate covered hand creeping along the pathways in Dorchester Park between Carney Hospital and the factory grounds. These sightings usually occur on moonlit nights after the taverns have locked their doors. Some speculate that the hand is looking for its missing owner. Others think it is looking for members of the factory's management. Still others suspect it is looking for someone to clean the chocolate off its fingers.


Lisa Paul said...

One of the most horrifying movies I remember from childhood was featured on Midnight Thriller Theater which I only got to watch at a sleep-over. The movie was "The Hand", about a severed hand that crawled around killing people.

But I like the twist of a CHOCOLATE COVERED crawling and homicidal hand. Although, for Massachusetts, wouldn't a homicidal lobster claw or a crawling hand clenching a beer be more appropriate.

Whalehead King said...

I haven't heard of the Chocolate Hand actually killing anyone, just crawling around Dorchester Park leaving a trail of chocolate. I like the idea of the homocidal lobster claw though. Thanks Lisa Paul! Stay tuned.


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