Jun. 14, 1998


by Carol Muske


Today's Reading: "Swansong" by Carol Muske from AN OCTAVE ABOVE THUNDER, published by Penguin Books (1997).

It's FLAG DAY. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation, in 1916, declaring June 14 Flag Day. He chose the 14th because it was on this day in 1777 that John Adams introduced at the Continental Congress the resolution that read: "Resolved, The flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation."

The GERMAN ARMY TOOK PARIS on this day in 1940, entering the city at 6:30 in the morning, then spreading out into the neighborhoods. By 11:00 a.m. the Swastika was flying from the Eiffel Tower. Nine days later, Hitler toured the city.

Warren Harding became the FIRST PRESIDENT TO BROADCAST ON RADIO on this day in 1922. He went on the air and gave his address at the dedication of the Francis Scott Key Memorial in Baltimore.

It's the birthday in New York, 1906, of photographer MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE. She was studying at Cornell in the mid-1920s when she got her first camera, a $20 second-hand Ica Reflex that had a crack straight through the lens. She took some pictures of the campus that sold well, then went on to Cleveland and began working as an architectural photographer. During the Depression she teamed up with novelist Erskine Caldwell and brought out a series of books, including You Have Seen Their Faces, about Southern sharecroppers trying to make ends meet. Life magazine hired her when it began publication in 1936, and she photographed some of the worst fighting in WWII.

It's the birthday in San Francisco, 1874, of EDWARD BOWES, host of NBC Radio's "Major Bowes' Amateur Hour." The show went on the air in 1935 and gave singers, comedians, and impersonators a chance to hit the big time. Bob Hope told his first jokes to a nationwide audience on the show, and Frank Sinatra made his debut with a group from his hometown called "The Hoboken Four."

It's the birthday in Litchfield, Connecticut, 1811, of HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, author in 1852 of Uncle Tom's Cabin. As a young woman in the 1830s and '40s she lived in Cincinnati, right across the Ohio River from Kentucky, which was a slave state. There, she saw slaves on the run from their masters and learned about their lives on the plantations. In 1850 she and her husband moved to Brunswick, Maine where she began writing the story of a kindly slave and his friendship with Little Eva St. Clare, the daughter of his master. Tom saves the girl's life and she asks her father to free all his slaves, but before he can do so he's killed, and Tom is eventually whipped to death. Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, came out in serial publication in a Washington anti-slavery paper called the National Era. Southerners dismissed it as sentimental rubbish from a Yankee preacher's wife, but in the North it had an electric effect, selling 300,000 copies in its first year.

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