May 1, 1998

Children's Rhymes

by Anonymous


Today's Reading: Children's rhymes from MISS MARY MACK, edited by Stephanie Calmenson, Joanna Cole, Alan Tiegreen, published by William Morrow & Co. (1990).

Today is MAY DAY, a spring festival dating back to Roman times to celebrate Flora, the goddess of flowers and spring. Children wove garlands around the marble columns in her temple, and the first boy or girl to lay a garland on her altar was considered blessed until the next May Day. In medieval England, women rose before sunrise to wash their faces with dew, which was supposed to keep their skin beautiful, and people of all ages went out into the woods to collect flowers and tree boughs to decorate the May pole.

Orson Welles's CITIZEN KANE was premiered on this day in 1941, New York. RKO Studios gave the 25-year-old director complete freedom to do whatever he wanted and the New York Times raved that Citizen Kane came "close to being the most sensational film ever made in Hollywood."

It's the birthday in Greenville, Virginia, 1909, of KATE SMITH. She recorded almost 3,000 songs, more than just about any other popular performer, and made 15,000 radio broadcasts. She went on the air in 1931 with "Kate Smith Sings," one of the biggest shows in the 30s. Seven years later she introduced a song written just for her by Irving Berlin, "God Bless America." That same year she started a noontime radio program of stories, comments on current events and women's affairs.

It's the birthday in Cork, Ireland, 1830, of MARY HARRIS JONES, who moved to this country in the 1830s and became the fiery labor agitator better known as MOTHER JONES. She was living in Memphis in the 1860s when yellow fever killed her four children and husband. She moved to Chicago a few years later and lost everything she had in the great Chicago fire of 1871. For the rest of her life she traveled the country, speaking, organizing the United Mine Workers and becoming the most visible figure in the labor movement. She said, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

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




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
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