Letters: Paul Revere's Bell; FDR Memorial

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Robert Siegel reads letters from listeners.


It's time for your letters, and first, we heard from several listeners about a story last week about some of Paul Revere's handiwork. The silversmith famous for his midnight ride also crafted the bell that now adorns the clock tower of the old South Meeting House in Boston.


SIEGEL: Well, we brought you the story of that bell and how it made its way last week to the tower, which has not had a bell of its own since 1876, but a few of you with keen ears and a keener sense of metallurgy wanted to set us straight on one detail.

William Mayhew(ph) of Fairfax, Virginia writes this. Your reporter said, a crane gently lifted the 876 pounds of cast iron into the clock tower. Really? Large bells such as this one were and are invariably made of cast bronze. Cast iron would quickly rust and bronze gives a better, sweeter tone, anyway.

Well, as it turns out, Mr. Mayhew's skepticism was well placed. Paul Revere opened a foundry in 1788 in Boston's North End. It made stove parts and other items out of iron, but the bell was, indeed, made of bronze.

Also last week, in a story about presidential memorials, reporter Elizabeth Blair mentioned a historic tussle over how to commemorate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt's family firmly rejected plans for an expansive walk-through memorial, saying it was too colossal for a man who once said he didn't want any landmark larger than his desk.

In the 1990s, a sprawling memorial was built in Washington, D.C., anyway, but listener Lawrence Burke(ph) of Pittsburgh points out that that is Washington's second memorial to FDR. The first one, erected in 1965, stayed true to FDR's wishes. It is a simple, rectangular desk-sized piece of stone near the northwest corner of the National Archives Building.

Thanks for your letters and please keep them coming. You can write to us by going to NPR.org and clicking on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.

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