Jun. 21, 1998

The Yellow Slicker

by Stuart Dischell


Today's Reading: "The Yellow Slicker" by Stuart Dischell from EVENINGS AND AVENUES, published by Penguin Books (1996).

It's the FIRST DAY OF SUMMER. The sun has reached its northern-most spot in the sky and for the next few days sunrises and sunsets will only vary by a few seconds, giving the impression that the sun is staying still, which is the meaning of the ancient Latin term "solstice," or static sun.

It's FATHER'S DAY today, proclaimed for the first time in June, 1910 by the mayor of Spokane, Washington at the request of one of his citizens, Mrs. John B. Dodd. Presidential proclamation of Father's Day didn't come until 1966.

It was on this day in 1948 that Peter Goldmark of Columbia Records unveiled his microgroove, or LONG-PLAYING RECORDS, which quickly became the standard of the industry.

The BATTLE OF OKINAWA ended on this day in 1945, one of the bloodiest campaigns in the Pacific during World War II. Okinawa is a big 70-mile-long island in southwestern Japan and U.S. troops intended to take it and make their way to Tokyo. The Americans landed on Okinawa in April, 1945. The island was heavily defended and over the next three months, U.S. forces lost about 12,000 men; the Japanese, about 100,000. Japan surrendered the island at 10 p.m., June 21.

It's the birthday in Seattle, 1912, of writer MARY MCCARTHY, author of the autobiographies, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (1957), and How I Grew (1987). She was orphaned as a six-year-old in Seattle and taken in by relatives in Minneapolis, a situation she described as one of "almost Dickensian cruelty and squalor." She was made to stand outside in snowdrifts for hours at a time, and once when she won an award at school, she was beaten with a razor strap to keep her from getting a big head about it. Her grandfather rescued her when she was 11 and took her back to Seattle.

It's the birthday in Wright City, Missouri, 1892, of theologian REINHOLD NIEBUHR. He started his preaching career as a pacifist, then changed his mind and was a strong advocate for the war against Hitler, and after WWII was influential in the State Department. He wrote a number of books, the best known of which is The Nature and Destiny of Man, in the early 1940s.

It's the birthday in Tarrytown Heights, New York, 1882, of the painter and illustrator KENT ROCKWELL, one of the most popular American artists in the first half of the century. He worked as a lobsterman and carpenter on the coast of Maine, then a ship's carpenter and a sailor. Most of the editions of books like Moby Dick, The Canterbury Tales, Paul Bunyan and Whitman's Leaves of Grass that came out early in this century had illustrations by Rockwell in them.

Work began this day in 1675 on ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL in London. The old St. Paul's had been destroyed nine years earlier in the Great Fire of 1666, the worst fire in London's history, that also devoured most of the government buildings and about 13,000 houses. The rebuilt St. Paul's was the work of architect Christopher Wren who designed a total of 53 London churches.

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