Apr. 6, 1998


by Yehuda Amichai


Today's Reading: "Eyes" by Yehuda Amichai from THE GREAT TRANQUILLITY, published by Sheep Meadow Press (1997).

ANDRE PREVIN was born on this day in 1929, in Berlin. He was enrolled at the Berlin High School for Music when he was six years old, but got kicked out at the age of nine because he was Jewish. His family came to Los Angeles where he got his music education on the job, arranging and playing studio piano for MGM while still a teenager. He started writing film scores, (Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Irma La Douce, and My Fair Lady) and playing classical as well as jazz concerts. He's best known now as a conductor, something he took up in the late 1960s; he's led the orchestras of Houston, London, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles.

It's the birthday of geneticist JAMES DEWEY WATSON, in Chicago, 1928, the man who helped discover the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, and that it is the base of heredity. He and Francis Crick won the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology.

The U.S. ENTERED WWI on this day in 1917. President Woodrow Wilson had tried for three years to keep America out of the war, and most of the country was glad he did. But in early 1917 German U-boats intensified their attacks on American supply ships and passenger boats off the coast of Great Britain, after repeated promises that they wouldn't, and when Wilson appeared before Congress in early April asking for a war declaration, it was passed almost unanimously.

It's the birthday in Woodington, Ohio, 1892, of LOWELL THOMAS, the radio broadcaster who for nearly fifty years signed on every night at 6:45 with "Good evening, everybody," then read America the news and signed off at 7:00 with "So long until tomorrow." In the years before television, his was probably the most recognized voice in America.

It's the anniversary of the BATTLE OF SHILOH, in 1862. In February, Ulysses S. Grant captured several forts in northern Tennessee and was marching south deeper into the Confederacy with about 42,000 men, when the Confederates launched a surprise attack against him at Shiloh, near the Tennessee River southwest of Nashville about 100 miles. General Beauregard had slightly fewer men than Grant but he had the element of surprise. The attack began on April 6 and lasted two days. Grant had no idea the Confederates were that close and in that strong a number, and his army was cut to shreds and forced to retreat. The second day, though, Union reinforcements arrived and Grant counter-attacked, causing the Confederates army to retreat. Shiloh shocked both sides. Until that time there'd been only one great battle Bull Run in Virginia a year earlier and Shiloh was the second; the South lost about 11,000 men there, and the North more than 13,000.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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