HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

July 9, 2007
Harvard Square Observer

Musings in My Morris Chair

Ernest Cassara


Years ago, as my wife and I were headed home in our car, we saw a second hand furniture dealer somewhere in Vermont.  What I hoped was that it would have an old Morris Chair.  By golly, it did.  So, ever since, it has served as a spot for musings, ruminations, dozes, and, when I’m exhausted, outright sleep.

I have appreciated William Morris (1834-1896), ever since I took a college course in the literature of the Victorian period, and discovered him as one of the great social reformers. But, he, also, was a painter, designer, and printer.  If you want to see a  Morris Chair, just type in the words on Google, and you will overwhelmed by the beauty of the classic model I possess and the variety of designs inspired by the classic.

One of the nice things about a Morris Chair is that it has wide arms, as well as an adjustable back.  At the moment, I have a note pad on the right arm, so that I can reach out and grab any fleeting thought for this column.  I, also, have on it a squarish plastic bottle that reads that it is Fiji water.  Funny!  As I was contemplating the subject of bottled water last week, Tom Ashbrook on WBUR, the Boston University public radio station, mentioned Fiji water.  If I got it straight, the bottles are made on the island and filled there, to be shipped around the world.  And, again, if I heard right, Ashbrook remarked that it is estimated that fifteen billion dollars a year is spent on bottled water.  And, consider the shipping costs!  And, then, if you think about it, there are land fills filling up with the plastic containers, which are not biodegradable. 

For years, we drove by the Poland Spring Hotel on our way to our mountain retreat in Greenwood, Maine.  Stopped and had lunch there a few times over the years, before the main hotel building burned down. 

At some point, the folks there got the bright idea of bottling the water.  It became popular enough that Perrier of France bought it out.  (I believe Nestle now owns it.)

Look carefully at the label next time you see some “Poland Spring” water.  It may very well be from other Maine towns, such as Fryeburg.

It is understandable that folks in the areas where the water is bottled are concerned about their water tables!

I always thought that bottled water was a luxury I could do without.  After all, the water in Cambridge is splendid.  (All of our left over plastic bottles are filled with it.)  But, during our recent stay in London, I realized that the water in the hotel at Tavistock Square tasted awful.  So, we ended up buying huge bottles of spring water in the store around the corner.

It was amusing, as I was doing research at the British Library on the infrastructure of great cities, to read in Peter Ackroyd’s book on London that some of its water comes from the Thames.  Unfortunately, he does not go into detail.  I assume, however, since one of our favorite pubs is on Conduit Street that that name must have some significance.

If you are a devotee of bottled water, I recommend that you carefully read the label.  There are some brands that attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.  They are really filtered tap water!


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