Jun. 20, 1998

Have Some Madeira, M'dear?

by Michael Flanders


Today's Reading: "Have Some Madeira, M'dear?" by Michael Flanders from THE OXFORD BOOK OF COMIC VERSE, published by Oxford University Press (1995).

It's the birthday of pianist ANDRÉ WATTS, Nüremberg, Germany, 1946. He moved to Philadelphia when he was eight years old and his mother got him interested in classical music by telling him the stories of the 19th century pianist Franz Liszt. He made his big splash on national TV at 16 playing with the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein.

It's the birthday of guitarist Chester Burton Atkins — CHET ATKINS — born on his grandfather's farm near Luttrell, Tennessee, 1924. He started off as a boy playing ukulele. "I'd play it until the strings broke," he said. "When that happened, I'd just rip a wire out of the screen porch and tune 'er up again. It took me 20 years to learn I couldn't tune too well." He got his first guitar when he was nine by trading in one of his guns; he quit high school and hit the road, and went on to join the Grand Ole Opry in the 1950s.

QUEEN VICTORIA TOOK THE THRONE on this day in 1837. One of her first acts as Queen was to demand a room of her own; she was 18 years old and up until then had always shared one with her mother. She became one of the most popular queens ever, and was the longest-reigning monarch in British history, 64 years.

The first steam-powered ship to make it across the Atlantic — the SAVANNAH — arrived in Liverpool, England on this day in 1819. She began in her home port of Savannah, Georgia, and took three and a half weeks to make it. The Savannah was actually a sailboat that had been outfitted with a single-cylinder, 90-horse, coal- and wood-fired engine that drove two paddlewheels.

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




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