Apr. 27, 1998

Childhood of the Ancients

by Andrew Hudgins


Today's Reading: "Childhood of the Ancients" by Andrew Hudgins from THE GLASS HAMMER: A SOUTHERN CHILDHOOD, published by Houghton Mifflin Co.

It's playwright AUGUST WILSON's birthday, author of the 1987 Fences, and The Piano Lesson in 1990, both of which won Pulitzer Prizes. His first major play came out in 1982, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the story of the great blues singer Gertrude Rainey, who at one point in the play says: "White folks don't understand about the blues. They hear it come out, but they don't know how it got there. They don't understand that's life's way of talking. You don't sing to feel better. You sing 'cause that's a way of understanding life."

It's the birthday of ULYSSES S. GRANT, in Point Pleasant, Ohio, 1822. The North hadn't won a single battle in the first year of the Civil War until Grant captured several Confederate forts on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. By 1864, Grant was head of the Union army and devised the strategy that won the war. He became the country's 18th president and served two terms that were racked by corruption of legislators under him.

The English writer, MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT, was born on this day in London, 1759; the author of two books in the 1780s and '90s, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She wrote, "I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves." She died in 1797, just after giving birth to her daughter, Mary, who would go on to write the novel Frankenstein.

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