Mar. 12, 1998

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

by William Wordsworth


Today's Reading: "Upon Westminster Bridge" by William Wordsworth.

It's the 50th birthday of singer-songwriter JAMES TAYLOR, born in Boston, 1948. He got his big break in England in 1968 when Beatles' manager Peter Asher put him together with George Harrison and Paul McCartney for his first record. Later that year he came back to the States and made the first in a string of big records -- seventeen original albums to date and a career that has spanned nearly three decades. James Taylor who said, "To me much of what is artistic is people's very creative and inventive ways out of impossible internal situations, life situations. They make a path, and when they do, they leave a trail or make a mark. And when they do this daring daylight escape, and when we see it, it looks like art."

And in St. Paul, Minnesota, it's the birthday of PATRICIA HAMPL, born in 1946, the author of several books of poetry and memoir, including A Romantic Education (1981), Spillville (1987), and Virgin Time (1992). In A Romantic Education she wrote, "My grandmother, when she served dinner, was a virtuoso hanging on the edge of her own ecstatic performance·She was a little power crazed: she had us and, by God, we were going to eat·The futility of saying no was supreme, and no one ever tried it. How could a son-in-law, already weakened by the once, twice, thrice charge to the barricades of pork and mashed potato, be expected to gather his feeble wit long enough to ignore the final call of his old commander when she sounded the alarm: "Pie, Fred?"

ANNE FRANK, the 15 year-old German girl who'd spent two years hiding from the Nazis with her Jewish family in a tiny, second-story warehouse in Amsterdam, died on this day in 1945. When the Gestapo discovered them they shipped them all off to Auschwitz where Anne's mother died. Then she and her sister were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany where they contracted typhus. Just a few weeks after she died, the camp was liberated.

THE GIRL SCOUTS were founded on this day in 1912, by Juliette Low.

It's the birthday of JACK KEROUAC, in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1922. He came out with a novel in 1950 called The Town and the City, which took him three years to write and sold pretty well. But he didn't care for all the work and revision that it took to write it, and in the late 50s discovered something he called "spontaneous prose" and published two more novels back-to-back: The Subterraneans, which took him all of three nights to do, and his classic On the Road, which took three weeks. Kerouac was the one who coined the term, "the Beat Generation."

It's the birthday in Cincinnati, 1858, of newspaper publisher ADOLPH OCHS, who started out as an office boy at the Knoxville, Tennessee Chronicle. When he was 19 he moved to Chattanooga, borrowed some money, and bought the Chattanooga Times and turned it into what he called a "clean, dignified, and trustworthy" newspaper. Twenty years later he bought the New York Times and put the famous motto on the front page, "All the news that's fit to print."

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