May 4, 1998

Sonnet 65: Since brass nor stone nor boundless sea

by William Shakespeare


Today's Reading: Sonnet 65 "Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea" by William Shakespeare.

It's the birthday in London, 1949, of GRAHAM SWIFT, author of novels like The Sweet Shop Owner, Waterland, and Out of the World, all published in the 1980s; and Last Orders, which won the Booker Prize in 1996.

Norman Mailer's first novel, THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, was published on this day in 1948, the story of 13 U.S. soldiers stationed on a Japanese-held island in the Pacific. Mailer himself served in the South Pacific during the war, and when he got out in 1945 he wrote the book while studying at the Sorbonne School in Paris.

It's the birthday in 1930 of the American opera singer ROBERTA PETERS. She was just 19 years old and had never sung professionally before, when she got a call on five hours notice to step in for another soprano at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City -- no orchestra rehearsal, only an hour or so of going through stage cues, and a few minutes before curtain with the conductor, Fritz Reiner, and that was it. The opera was Mozart's Don Giovanni, and the audience adored her -- one of the most famous debuts in Met history. She sang at the Met for another 35 years.

It's the birthday of AUDREY HEPBURN, born in Brussels, Belgium, 1929. Her mother was Dutch and her father British and she was given the name EDDA VAN HEEMSTRA HEPBURN-RUSTON. She grew up in London but was vacationing with her family in Holland when the Nazis invaded. She was trapped in Holland for the rest of the war.

It's the birthday in Peoria, Illinois, 1884 of the chemist AGNES FAY MORGAN, who headed up the University of California at Berkeley's Department of Household Science and Arts and pioneered the study of the biochemistry of vitamins. She discovered how fluctuations in Vitamin D levels affect humans. Our bodies make Vitamin D from sunlight, but winter sun in the north or sunlight that's passed through certain kinds of glass or smoggy air lacks enough ultraviolet rays to make the vitamin.

It's the birthday in Pittsburgh, 1874, of FRANK CONRAD, the electrical engineer who got commercial radio going in this country. As a hobby in 1919 he started up a little amateur radio station in his home in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, broadcasting music to a few local listeners. A department store in town began advertising wireless sets so folks could receive Conrad's transmissions, and the next year Conrad and his employers at Westinghouse established the first commercial radio station, KDKA. The station went on the air November 2, 1920 with the results of the Harding-Cox presidential elections.

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




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