May 14, 1998
As You Like It
The nation of Israel is 50 years old today. It was on this date in 1948 that ISRAEL DECLARED ITS EXISTENCE. The British Mandate had been established over Palestine right after WWI, and with eight hours to go before it expired, Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed the State of Israel. President Harry Truman was one of the first to officially recognize Israel, but — just as quickly — the armies of Egypt and Jordan attacked the new nation.
It's the birthday of PATRICE MUNSEL, born in Spokane, Washington in 1925, and the youngest singer ever to make a debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. They called her "the baby diva" when she stepped onto the Met stage for the first time in 1943 at the age of 18 to sing the role of Philine in Mignon.
It's the birthday of jazz drummer ZUTTY SINGLETON, born in the little town of Bunkie, Louisiana, 1898, about 120 miles northwest of New Orleans. He moved to New Orleans when he was a teenager and started drumming, and was one of the first in jazz to use wire brushes as well as sticks.
It's the birthday in New Orleans, 1897, of jazz sax player SIDNEY BECHET. He got his start on clarinet, playing fairs and carnivals throughout the South and Midwest, making his way eventually up to Chicago where he played in King Oliver's band. Right after the First World War, bandleader Will Marion Cook hired him to go along with his Southern Syncopated Orchestra on a European tour. In London, Bechet bought a soprano saxophone and taught himself how to play it. Back in the States, Bechet opened up his own place in Harlem, the Club Basha, and played soprano sax on records with Louis Armstrong under the name of the Red Onion Jazz Babies.
LEWIS AND CLARK set out from the city of St. Louis on this day in 1804 on their great exploration of the West, to see if there was a waterway — a Northwest Passage — between the Mississippi and the Pacific. The West at that time was largely a big blank spot on the map, nobody really knew what was out there or how big it was. Lewis and Clark planned to travel up the Missouri as far as the Rocky Mountains, then cross to the Columbia and descend to the Pacific — all within about a year's time. But navigation was harder than they'd expected and it took them in all about two and a half years to make it to the Pacific and back to St. Louis.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®