Jun. 17, 1998

Farm Wife

by R. S. Thomas

The Catalpa

by John Ciardi


Today's Reading: "Farm Wife" by R.S. Thomas from SELECTED POEMS 1946-1968, published by St. Martin's Press. "The Catalpa" by John Ciardi from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF JOHN CIARDI, published by University of Arkansas Press.

Twenty-six years ago today, 1972, at 2:30 in the morning, five men were caught trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the WATERGATE Complex in Washington. Two days later, on the front page of the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein began their Watergate stories: they reported one of the burglars was the security coordinator for President Nixon's reelection committee.

The FIRST KIDNEY TRANSPLANT was performed on this day in 1950 at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Chicago. Ruth Tucker received a kidney from another woman who had died minutes earlier. It was the first transplant of a vital human organ.

It's the birthday in Tientsin, China, 1914, of novelist JOHN HERSEY, best known for his WWII books like the 1945 A Bell for Adano, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Hiroshima, written the following year. Hersey's Hiroshima followed six survivors of the nuclear bomb attack; it came out exactly one year after the bomb was dropped, planned as a three-part series in the New Yorker, but the editors instead devoted nearly the entire magazine to it on August 31, 1946.

The BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL was fought on this day, 1775, at dawn just north of Boston. Bunker Hill was strategic to Boston; from there an army could easily shell the city across the Charles River. American patriots held the hill and had already repulsed the British once, and the British commander William Howe ordered his men up the hill again. The Americans under William Prescott cut them down, inflicting over a thousand casualties; the British re-grouped and tried a third time, this one successful. Although they lost the hill, Americans considered the battle a huge moral victory because they proved they had the discipline under fire to meet the British.

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